Is the time right to take the plunge and buy a home in San Francisco? After all, it is spring when the largest inventory of homes is on the market.
The answer is different for every buyer. Pregnant women are a real estate agent’s dream. The sky is definitely not falling for them. There is little question in their minds that once they qualify for a loan they are ready to buy a home for their new family. Today it seems that everywhere you look there is a pregnant woman. It is no surprise that two and three bedroom homes are in high demand all over the city.
The Association of Bay Area Governments’ 2013 draft plan for the Bay Area discusses a Strategy for a Sustainable Region. In this report, the projections for growth between 2010 and 2040 are that population will increase 30 percent, jobs 33 percent, households 27 percent, and housing units 24 percent. Looking at these numbers, it is obvious that housing will not keep up with the growth of the population. Prices cannot help but go up if ABAG’s predictions are correct. The unknown here is how much and how fast will the cost of housing rise. No wonder all of the pregnant women at open houses are looking to make a deal on a home today.
There are always chicken littles who worry that an economic downturn is just around the corner. They think they should wait to buy a home until the market slows down. While they waited last year, the San Francisco Association of Realtors reported that the price of single-family homes rose 12 percent and condos 18.7 percent.
The rapid increase in the population plus the development of new housing without parking has increased the challenges of day-to-day living in San Francisco. Finding parking in my daily work as a real estate agent goes with the job and is to be expected. One of the simple pleasures of city life is going out to dinner or visiting friends across town. At least it used to be simple. Not all that long ago it was possible to do this without having to creep across town through bumper-to-bumper traffic. Today, once I am at my destination, I find I am driving in circles for 30 minutes or more looking for a parking spot. In the past month, I have quickly learned to love Uber and preserve my sanity.
Big-ticket items like improving the city’s infrastructure to keep up with the city’s growth are another concern. Anyone who walks or drives along Franklin or Gough Streets must wonder if the sewer project or upgrading traffic signals will ever be finished. The price tag on this work must be astronomical. In the end, we all pay the price for the city’s population growth.
Here are some points worth consideration.
- San Jose is the wealthiest city in the country.
- Young people working on the Peninsula and south to San Jose want to live in San Francisco if possible.
- San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has an 18-month pilot program to share Muni stops with shuttle services (think Apple, Facebook, and Google among others).
- “Maybe 20 percent of the deals in San Francisco and the Peninsula are cash overseas buyers,” said Allen Ching, president of the San Francisco/Peninsula chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America. “I can only see that increasing.”
- Young families are not moving to the suburbs as they have in the past when their children reach school age.
- Seniors living in the greater Bay Area are buying pied-à-terres in San Francisco or moving here full time.
- Well-priced homes under $1.5 million dollars are receiving multiple offers.
- Mortgage interest rates are still near an all-time low.
- My buyers are diligently searching for a home, and other agents at my company, McGuire Real Estate, tell me they are busy and looking forward to an increase in housing inventory in the spring.
- Long-term San Francisco residents are not leaving the city when they retire. That is if they retire. People are working longer.
- On Union Street, a yoga studio catering to pregnant women opened recently.
You decide whether pregnant women or chicken littles will win the day. From personal experience both as a mother and a real estate agent, my vote is with the pregnant women and the baby boom.
If you are a seller and a chicken little, it is time to contact a real estate agent and put your home on the market. If we do see a downturn, you will be kicking yourself that you had missed the opportunity to make a killing on your home.
If you are a buyer who doesn’t care about a possible downturn because you understand that interest rates are low and real estate is a long-term investment, it is time to do three things:
- Get pre-approved for a loan
- Commit to going to open houses on the weekend.
- Find a real estate agent you like and trust to work with to buy a home.
The thing I have found about the chicken littles over the years is they can always find something that causes them to worry about the sky falling. Even with interest rates at rock bottom and an obvious upturn in the market a few years ago, they would say, “This is just a blip, and it won’t last.” All markets have cycles. Still, one thing that doesn’t change is that we all want to have a place to sleep at night that we can call our home.