SF: State of the Market? Try Bi-Polar

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Whenever I write my weekly blog about home sales, I note the prices fetched seem to belie the idea of a slump in the SF real estate market. Still, I’m aware this is not a fully informed observation: which homes sold for less than asking? Which for more? How long were these places on the market? Which were foreclosures? None of this information is readily available, so I can only project on the bottom line. Thus, how can we say what the state of the SF market really is?

Maybe the safest bet is to say the market is bi-polar. It’s good; its great; its terrible. Making this assessment, of course, is really more subjective than objective: Who are you? What type of property are you selling? Or are you buying instead? Where is the property? What is the price? All of these factors will skew your view on the market’s relative strength. For instance, in response to a Chronicle article exclaiming “Bay Area Foreclosure Activity Skyrockets,” Patrick Carlisle of SFHomeBlog notes “an interesting fact hidden in the article’s by-county graph: though every other Bay Area county saw large, and sometimes huge (hundreds of percent), increases in Notices of Default and Notices of Trustee Sale in August, in San Francisco the activity in both are actually down from a year ago.” In fact:

SF Notices of Default are down 16% from 8/06 and Notices of Trustee Sale are down over 60%……So, at least for the time being (or at least comparing 8/07 with 8/06), SF continues to buck national, state and Bay Area trends in foreclosure activity.

SF realtor Meredith Martin chimes in with more on the ups and downs of the market:

We’re still seeing multiple offers and offer dates on some properties in some areas of this city. What you probably do know, based on the media and other real estate blog sites, is that there are also price reductions. But if that’s all you’re being fed, and that’s all you read, and you don’t bother to look deeper – you might be misled into thinking that’s the whole picture.

So, what is the whole picture? Martin says:

I don’t know whether now is a good time for you to buy or sell because it’s case specific (and/or property specific) and there are factors that many people need to think about.

And surely that is sound advice, in any economy.