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January 3, 2011

Roller Coaster Real Estate in 2010

The San Francisco housing market had its major ups and downs in 2010.  The good news is that interest rates remained low and sales volumes increased over 2009. In many cases, buyers were pleased with the values they were getting, and sellers were happy to complete a sale and move on.

But there were also plenty of homes that went unsold, or managed to get in contract and then fall out. I’m hard pressed to find an agent who hasn’t had to cancel at least one escrow this year. “BOM” (back on market) became a common refrain.

In the end, though, 2010 was a reasonable year in spite of our country’s continued economic woes. A total of 2,268 houses, 1962 condos and 269 TICs sold last year—slight increases above 2009 volumes. And in the last quarter of 2010, the numbers and averages were certainly respectable, with 566 houses selling at an average of $1,009,585. Only 438 condos sold (condos typically outsell houses) at an average of $768,313. And even 60 TICs changed hands, at an average of $576,802.

Going into 2011, there are almost 200 houses pending (meaning they’re in contract with all buyer contingencies removed), but only 15 are above the $1M mark. Add to that 140 condos and TICs, and you have a good start to the year. (And hopefully, the 166 houses; 172 condos; and 45 TICs in contract and waiting for buyers to remove contingencies will come to fruition.)

What made me stand up and take notice was the volume of expired and withdrawn listings last year. A whopping 1197 houses, 1497 condos and 533 TICs were reported in these categories. This real estate roadkill definitely sends a message to sellers, who should not reach for the stars when it comes to exceeding reasonable comparative sales levels for property types and neighborhoods.

San Francisco was no stranger to foreclosure activity in 2010. A total of 741 properties were listed as being in pre-foreclosure (not necessarily with notices of default). And 766 were listed as bank owned. Yes, there could be an impact on city home prices, but a look at the addresses involved tells me that many are not in what you’d call prime San Francisco locations.

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