Real Estate

When you’re hot you’re hot

The state of the San Francisco real estate market
Residents of Russian Hill already know their pricey neighborhood is one of the top real estate markets. Photo: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons

The National Association of Realtor’s magazine reported on Feb. 1 the top 20 hottest housing markets in the country, and it turns out that San Francisco is number one. That is not surprising, but it’s exciting to know we are at the top of the market nationwide. The National Association of Realtors described us as “beating the winter chill.” Of course, we don’t have the winter chill like so much of the northern and eastern parts of the country do, so we have that to be thankful for.

Other California cities also made the top 20 list. San Jose (number 2), Vallejo (number 4), San Diego (number 5), Sacramento (number 6), Stockton (number 8), Los Angeles (number 10), Santa Rosa (number 11), Oxnard (number 12), Yuba City (number 14), Modesto (number 15), and Santa Cruz (number 18). That’s a lot of hot real estate markets in California.

Contributing factors to California’s market success are our weather, job growth, the “on fire” high-tech industry, and foreign-money investments in California. We are truly lucky to have so much going for us. San Francisco is only seven miles by seven miles in size, so even with the sky-high demand, the supply remains quite limited. Upcoming new construction will help, but it is predicted that the additional housing being added to the market is still not enough to keep up with the new job growth and influx of more people to San Francisco.

Homes nationwide are selling 4 percent faster in January 2016 than in January 2015. Overall, the median list price is up 8 percent (this is nationwide, not just a California phenomenon).

It was interesting that both Texas and Florida also featured multiple hot spots. Texas boasted hot spots in Dallas (number 3) and Midland (number 17). Florida boasted Palm Bay (number 13) and Tampa (number 19). The remaining hot spots went to Nashville (number 7), Denver (number 9), Detroit (number 16) and Fort Wayne (number 20). Glad to see Detroit is picking up!

What does this mean for us? Well, a strong market indicator is a good thing. Though the inch up in interest rates had a predictable slowing effect (combined with winter), we are already seeing an increase in new listings, and I’m hopeful buyers will have an easier time finding a home this spring than they may have had last year.

Looking back, San Francisco has been strong for decades. Yes, we experience downturns, too, but we usually go up more in good markets and down less in bad markets than anywhere else in the country.

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Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at