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San Francisco Real Estate: Buyer's Market? Seller's Market? Both?

San Francisco Real Estate: Buyer's Market? Seller's Market? Both?
By: Joel Walsh

San Francisco real estate, one of the USA's supposedly "frothiest" real estate markets, is no longer an instant jackpot for sellers-now it's just a jackpot. Buyers, though still facing high prices, now have enough time to actually think an offer over before making it.

Back in 2004 a piece of San Francisco real estate might spark a bidding war among prospective buyers as soon as it hit the market. Today, a property might actually-gasp!-sit on the market long enough for buyers and sellers to negotiate.
San Francisco Real Estate: Good Time to Buy, Sell, or Both?

To recap the San Francisco real estate market 2004-2005


2004: prices high, seller's market;

2005, spring: prices even higher, all-out seller's market; 10 offers on a new listing common

2005, fall: prices only slightly higher or same; 1-2 offers on a new listing more common

In short, while average selling prices haven't dropped, now might still be a better time for prospective buyers-and even sellers-who prefer a calmer market.

True, there are those who have been saying for five years now that you should sell as fast possible and not even think of buying. Now that the market for real estate in San Francisco more closely resembles a real estate market than an art auction, those same people are talking of a "slow-down" and even the bursting of the often-alleged Bay Area real estate bubble.

But after accelerating head-long for years, it was hard for the market to do anything but slow down. Meanwhile, with multi-million-dollar houses, apartments, and offices selling for no less than before, it's hard to feel like anything is bursting except sellers' bank accounts. Of course, there's never any telling what the future might bring.

Tom Hageman, a licensed California realtor with a blog at ziprealty.typepad.com, notes that the market is still strong, but properties will sit on the market longer starting in fall 2005, for a variety of reasons:


More properties entering the market, since realtors traditionally advise clients to list properties after Labor Day, when everyone's back from vacation and the Bay Area's radiant autumn casts an attractive glow over properties.

Buyers getting nervous at the media talk of a real estate bubble.

Some sellers have overpriced their properties significantly.

Ideas for Buyers and Sellers of Real Estate in San Francisco

"When prices fall or rise is very hard to predict," notes Tom Hageman. "If anyone truly knew what was going to happen next, they would be a very rich person."

Still, Hageman's blog offers some advice that seems to make a lot of sense.

For buyers, Hageman thinks that now is a relatively good time to buy, with fewer sellers setting unrealistic prices, the bidding war of Spring 2005 long over with, and interest rates still relatively low.

For sellers, Hageman thinks that except for properties in high-demand areas, "it will be unlikely that you will receive record breaking multiple offers. I believe that the old saying of 'your first offer is usually the best' is often true."

Important disclaimer: the above article is provided for your reading pleasure only and is not intended to provide investment advice. All examples are hypothetical and intended as illustrations, not guidelines. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the owners.

About the author:
About the author: Joel Walsh is a freelance writer who advises that none of the preceding should be taken as investment or real estate advice, and hopes you get real estate advice from qualified professionals. You can go here for more news on San Francisco real estate: http://www.bayarearealestateadvisor.com?%20real%20estate[Publish this article on your website! Requirement: live link for above URL/web address w/ link text/anchor text: "real estate" OR leave this bracketed message intact.]

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