The Devil’s in the Details: Real Estate Market Outlook for San Francisco

Last week, I heard Robert Kleinhenz, Deputy Chief Economist from the California Association of Realtors (CAR) give an Economic Forecast Update. He talked about how the media continues to cover “the California real estate market” when there is really no such thing. What is happening in the major cities and coastal regions is not the same as what is happening inland. As the 5th largest world economy, California is large and diverse. We have many economies and many real estate markets.

If you want to understand what is going on in your neighborhood, keep it local – very local. Become an extreme real estate locavore, if you will. And remember that the devil is in the details.

For example, on Tuesday, May 25th, I read this in the NYTimes:

“Adding to the dark mood was a downbeat report from an important housing index. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, fell 0.5 percent in March from February, a sign that the housing market remained weak even as mortgage rates were near historic lows. The expiration last month of the government’s home-buyer tax credit could hurt sales in the coming months.” Consumer Anxiety Eases, But Some Fear Not for Long

And this in the Chronicle:

“The housing slump isn’t over. Tax credits and historically low mortgage rates have failed to lift home prices so far this year. Prices fell 0.5 percent in March from February, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday.” Read more: Falling home prices stir fears of new bottom.

But then, the next day, Wednesday May 26th, is was like, oh wait maybe not all American real estate markets are the same and we should look at the report more closely. Good idea!

Wednesday’s headline became “Home prices rebound in much of the Bay Area.” Huh?

But, of course, even the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index defines the San Francisco area as San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties combined, which is far too broad a region.

That said, I’ll take good news where I can get it. 😉

“The San Francisco area had the strongest quarterly performance among metropolitan regions in a closely watched home price index…up 16.2% in the first quarter… ” Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/26/BU3M1DKC49.DTL#ixzz0p9R6wXpn

Numbers geek? Check out the complete S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index Report released May 2010.

And hey, did you hear about mortgage rates?

Again, I’ll take the good with the bad as the reasons aren’t so wonderful. But if you’re ready in your own life (financially, emotionally, psychologically) to own a home (or trade up to a nicer one), you can lock in an AMAZING interest rate for a little while longer. Wall St. Journal: Mortgage Rates Decline – Home Buyers get surprise boost from Europe crisis.

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