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You may recall from our post “Another Month of Strong Home Sales – NAR Existing-Home Sales Report for November 2012″ the National Association of Realtors reported an increase in the number of existing-home sales, a rise in the median sales price as well as the lowest housing supply since September of 2005.

Where does the outlier that is the San Francisco real estate market fit in with these national numbers? Here’s a quick rundown of where things stand in San Francisco for the month of November 2012, based on SF-MLS data :

Single Family homes and condominiums (which includes condos, TICs, lofts and coops)

  • Number of existing-home sales:  529.  This is a +20% change from November 2011 when there were 439 existing-home sales.
  • Median Sales Price:  $800,000.  This is a 25% increase from the median sales price in November 2011 of $640,000.
  • Active For-Sale Inventory:  1183 units or, 1.4 months of supply at the current sales pace.  This represents a 36.7% decrease in the number of units compared to November 2011 when there were 1869 homes actively for sale (a 3 months supply).  In November 2010, there was a 4.7 months supply at the then current sales pace.
Inventory_SF_Homes and condos
San Francisco Active Inventory for Nov 2010 to Nov 2012

Recently, there has been increased media attention about the nation-wide drop in active inventory supply and which “hot” real estate markets are coming back. For buyers and Realtors, this information is not new; the truth of the matter is they are the first to know. The real estate agents and the home buyers are in the trenches. They are witnessing first hand, and therefore are able to react more quickly to, changes in the market environment (interest rates, inventory, local job market, IPOs, etc).  At some point, the traditional news media catches on and starts to report on the increase in real estate activity. Amid all of this hubbub, would-be sellers start to think, “Hmmm, maybe my home value is back and I can get my equity out?”. These are the home owners who want to sell but have been hesitant to list because of decreased values and the threat of distressed property in their neighborhood…who hasn’t heard the term “shadow inventory” brought up at a cocktail party this year?

The San Francisco Real Estate Market in Context

From experience, we can tell you that San Francisco tends to be ahead of the national curve. And the numbers above bear that out.

Our listing inventory levels have been very low since the beginning of 2012 when local real estate agents started to really feel the housing recovery. The talk around the “real estate water cooler” was all about how buyers were anxious to get into the market because they could sense prices were at or close to the bottom and about how sellers still seemed wary to jump back in and put their house on the market.  These two forces, increased home buyer demand and hesitant would-be home sellers, led to a significant come-back in multiple offers and over-asking sales prices in the San Francisco real estate market.

The Trailblazer City

One point we’d like to make is that by the time the statistics are published and the national conversation about real estate is on the cover of the newspapers (in a positive way!) or cycling through your favorite cable news programs, the local San Francisco market has been there and done that….for at least 6-9 months!

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