Can California Keep Her Bling?
I used to look at houses in Portland, OR like this 2/2 SFH in one of the most gorgeous neighborhoods, Sellwood, listed at $440K.
And then I would look for somthing similar in SF. And then I would need a very large martini. We all know, even after the martini, that a comparable home is SF (in a comparable lovely neighborhood) would go for twice or three times that price.
Experts in the field offer myriad explanations: SF has limited homes, limited land, high demand, good jobs, California property is worth more… etc., etc.
I am curious though how many of those factors still exist, or can continue to exist as the economic climate changes.
The Chron estimates that Bay Area homes lost $202 billion in value in 2008. Agreed, the Bay Area includes areas much harder hit by the slump than SF, but SF is not impervious to these problems. Maybe they aren’t horrible yet, but conditions aren’t as crazy-good as they used to be (right? We can agree on that at least?); could they get worse?
It seems that California itself is losing value. The S & P has already lowered her credit rating , tying her with Louisiana, and may lower this rating again if the budget crisis can’t be solved– a phenomenon we have no real optimism to witness, unless we relish our tax refunds being issued as IOUs as part of the solution. From the LA Times:
“Should the state not enact timely midyear budget gap closing measures by February 2009, or should the state’s cash position weaken significantly compared with recently revised state cash flow projections,” the rating firm warns, the ratings on California’s long-term debt could be lowered, S&P said.
That could drive more investors away from California bonds, forcing the state to pay higher interest rates to borrow. Municipal bond yields in California and elsewhere have been surging in recent weeks as state budget troubles have deepened.
As for the prospect of borrowing to plug budget gaps, S&P warned that without “meaningful budget adjustments on the revenue or expenditure side,” California may face “constrained investor appetite” for its short-term notes.
In the meantime, Prop 13, once meant to protect the housing consumer, is now a very big part of the problem.
So my question is, can Californians expect to see deals like those in Portland, OR anytime in the near future in San Francisco? (And I pick Portland for its many similarities, physically and politically, to SF.) Ironically, though this would be a nightmare to some people, it would be a dream come true to the vast majority of renters who are currently priced out. And if this untapped pool of buyers could actually buy, well… we’d see that scary-good rush to buy again, like before the dot.com and current economy bust when people offered children and unneeded organs along with 50% over asking— but with distinctly post-bust differences.