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Do San Francisco Housing Prices Ever Drop?

While having lunch with a friend recently, she put forth a potentially disarming question: Have San Francisco home prices ever actually gone down for any significant period? Not just wobbly month-to-month dips, but a real drop?

Her tone was one of almost unvarnished disbelief: She was of an age where she could not remember SF housing ever getting cheaper but only spiking to greater and greater heights year after year.

Well of course the answer is yes, even SF home prices do take a tumble sometimes. But when?

We decided to investigate in the most basic possible terms: By compiling the median sale price of all SF homes combined over a 20-year period and letting the chips fall where they may.

This is the average of every property traded on MLS since 2001, no gimmicks and no qualifiers, for better or worse. To be honest, we were not really prepared for the findings:

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2001: $530,000

2002: $550,500

2003: $702,700

2004: $679,000

2005: $761,000

2006: $770,000

2007: $790,500

2008: $760,000

2009: $675,000

2010: $685,000

2011: $640,000

2012: $723,800

2013: $845,000

2014: $975,000

2015: $1.13 million

2016: $1.17 million

2017: $1.25 million

2018: $1.33 million

2019: $1.35 million

2020: $1.38 million

2021: $1.42 million

Now, this is admittedly a very simplistic approach, and it has its limitations: Thanks to inflation, for example, half a million dollars in 2001 is not really the same sum as half a million dollars in 2011.

That said, the year-over-year comparisons each time remain striking: The median price of a San Francisco home hasn’t declined year-to-year in over a decade, NOT EVEN DURING 2020, when the bottom dropped out of basically everything else.

While we did see several drops in the preceding decade, these are perhaps bemusing in their own right, as they signal an incredible financial crisis during that period, one that (we would hope) is unlikely to ever repeat.

During this period there were of course minor lulls, stalls, and price depressions in the short term, but they never lasted–it almost defies economic law.

So the answer is yes, SF prices are indeed vulnerable to market forces, as we always knew they were. But if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t believe it, frankly, you’ve got a lot to work with.

As always, if you have any questions you can contact us directly, or throw them in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to this blog, or follow us on social media @theFrontSteps too. And please do consider giving us a chance to earn your business and trust when it’s time to buy or sell Bay Area property. People like working with us, and we think you will too.

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