Britain’s June vote to exit the EU has already had an impact on the market in the US, including here in San Francisco. Mortgage rates have dropped almost a quarter of a percent, making the monthly payments on our pricey housing slightly more affordable. The result is that it will support continuing increases in sales prices, as decreases in interest rates always do. For example, a $1,000,000 loan at 3.75% costs $4,631/month, but at 3.5% you can borrow $1,032,000 for the same monthly payment. And monthly payments are what buyers focus on.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco published its upbeat Economic Forecast in June which indicated continued strong job and economic growth, continued low business and mortgage interest rates (this was published prior to the vote in Britain), coupled with historically low unemployment and inflation below the Fed’s target of 2%. The conclusion is that they see Gross Domestic Product growth around 2% for the year, at a “pace consistent with moderate ongoing expansion, which we expect to continue over the next few years.”

Of interest was their findings about the cause of the lower labor force participation rates that have been occurring since 2001 that have been noted by many previous reports. It turns out that because of the considerable shift in the wage gains during this time period to the higher income households, that these households have fewer multiple earners. On the opposite end of the spectrum, lower wage earners continue to need multiple earners to make ends meet.

The Fed report hypothesizes that this is a shift that the upper-income households have made in the work-life balance and that the workforce participation in this group may remain low. It is also mimicked by the young workers in upper-income households, where labor force participation is also significantly lower than in the general population.

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San Francisco Single Family Home median prices have been hovering between $1,352,000 and $1,380,000 for the past four months since peaking at $1,400,000 in February 2016. That was the second time median prices had hit that number, first back in May of 2015. With the drop in interest rates, we could break through that median price soon because that drop from 3.75% to 3.5% finances another $45,000 in the loan amount for the same monthly payment.

The Condo/Loft Median Sales Price hit an all time high of $1,180,000 in June 2016, up 4.9% from June 2015.

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Resale Condos-Lofts jumped 59% in both Days on Market and Months Supply of Inventory compared to June 2015, but both are still in strong sellers market territory.

Single Family Homes are up slightly in Days on Market from 16 to 20 both for May to June, 2016 and from June 2015 to June 2016. Months Supply of Inventory dropped from 2.3 in May to 1.9 in June 2016 and was also down from June 2015’s 2 months. Both market indicators continue to show a strong sellers market.

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Single Family Homes New Listings dropped by 55 from May to June 2016. It was also off 61 compared to June 2015. Of additional continuing importance is that the year-to-date number of new listings is down 60 from year-to-date 2015, a 4.1% decline. This helps explain why Months Supply of Inventory is lower than last year.

Resale Condos/Lofts had the reverse trend, with 1 more new listing on the market in June than May, 2016, and 27 more new listings in June 2016 than June 2015. And, significantly, year-to-date new listings are up 167 over year-to-date 2015, which represents a 10.3% increase in inventory. This helps explain why Months Supply of Inventory and Days on Market has risen sharply for Resale Condo/Lofts.

No Mass Exit from San Francisco on the Horizon

At last month’s SFARMLS Building Boom forum, the Bay Area Council presented its latest poll of Bay Area residents, and said that the results show that a third of Bay Area residents “are likely to bolt the region in the next few years”. In truth, that is a big overstatement of the poll results.

What the poll actually asked for was a response to: “I am likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years.” What people answered was: 13% said they strongly agree with that statement and 21% said they somewhat agree.

That is certainly not a third of the residents saying they are likely to “bolt” in the next few years. Exactly where would they go? Jobs are here, families are here, the great weather is here. There’s a reason our population is growing – this is a fabulous place to work and live, in spite of high prices and congestion.

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