Heat Map Report


This heat map compares 2013 2nd quarter or 1st half median home sales prices – for houses, condos, co-ops and TICs combined, as reported to MLS – with those at the peak value time prior to the recent market recovery. Previous peak value times vary by neighborhood: typically, the least affluent neighborhoods hit peak prices in 2006 and also fell the most, percentage-wise, during the crash, falling 25% to 50%. These neighborhoods were most affected by the subprime and distressed-property sales crises. The mid-affluent neighborhoods peaked in 2007, and usually declined in value in the 20% to 25% range. And the most affluent areas reached peak values last, in the first-half of 2008 prior to the September 2008 crash: Their fall in value ranged approximately 15% to 20% from 2008 peak to 2010-2011 nadir.

Generally speaking, when the market began to turn around in late 2011/early 2012, the last neighborhoods to fall were the first to recover, followed by the mid-affluent and then the less affluent areas. All the city’s neighborhoods have made dramatic recoveries through the second quarter of 2013, but some have surged far above previous peak median sales prices and they are the red and orange colored zip codes on the map: South Beach and Yerba Buena (94105), Inner Mission and Bernal Heights (94110), the greater Noe Valley- Eureka Valley-Cole Valley area (94114 & 94117) and perhaps some of the old-prestige, northern neighborhoods (whose data is less definitive). Ochre and yellow delineate smaller increases over previous peak prices, 5% - 12%. The light-green areas, such as most of the Sunset, Parkside and Richmond districts, are back in the general range of their 2007 peak values, maybe a tad over. And the southern, blue-tinted neighborhoods are still 10% to 25% below their 2006 prices (but, like other areas, rising rapidly). Bayview (94124) is furthest below its peak, but then, with about a 50% decline, it saw the steepest drop in the city, market peak to market bottom.

Zip codes mapped white signify there wasn’t enough dependable data for a reliable analysis.

There are two different reasons for the large disparities between the zip codes: the first is that some neighborhoods are experiencing particularly white-hot buyer demand, especially by affluent high-tech buyers. The second reason is that different neighborhoods have greater amounts of decline to recoup. Those neighborhoods which declined the most in value simply have more ground to make up to get back to where they were before the market crash.

Note that if a property declined in value by 50%, it then has to go up in value 100% to get back to where it was: percentage decreases and percentage increases are not created equal.

California & the United States
If California or the entire country was heat-mapped, there would be oceans of differing shades of blue – home values still well below peak values – with rare, tiny bits of green here and there: According to the last published Case-Shiller Index (May 2013) and the latest California Association of Realtors median home price report (June 2013), overall state and national home prices overall are still approximately 23-25% below their 2006 peaks.

Other Bay Area Counties
The situation in the rest of the state and nation would also apply to most of the other Bay Area counties. According the latest Case-Shiller Index for the 5-county San Francisco Metro Area, all price ranges are recovering dramatically, but the lower-priced third of home sales (under $439,000), hit hard by distressed property sales in past years, would still be dark blue -- this market segment is still about 40% below peak values (as of May 2013). The middle third of sales, $439,000 to $760,000, would be an intermediate blue, at about 20% below peak prices. Most of the home sales in Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Napa counties are in these two price segments, though there are areas of significantly higher values too, edging towards green.

According to Case-Shiller, the upper third of unit sales, over $760,000, is getting close to or has again reached peak values (or, in the case of San Francisco, surpassed their peaks), so significant portions of affluent Marin and San Mateo counties would be green or close to green. Marin and San Mateo have lately been trading the title for the California county with the highest median home sales price, with May-June medians of about $1,000,000. (San Francisco’s median price is pulled down somewhat by its large percentage of condo/TIC sales. Looking just at SF house prices, the overall median price in the second quarter was about $997,000 – but there are huge variations by neighborhood, ranging from under $500,000 to $4,000,000.)

And in the most sought-after communities in the heart of Silicon Valley, such as Palo Alto, there would probably be pockets of yellow-orange. Unfortunately, our access to historical sales data there is not as easy or comprehensive as we would prefer, but that is our best guess.

Our most recent Case-Shiller Index report, with price charts, can be found here: San Francisco Metro Area Case-Shiller Index 

Though the rebound in home prices is occurring virtually everywhere in the country, San Francisco has been at the leading edge of the turnaround. Generally speaking, the city peaked in value last, recovered first and is rebounding most dramatically.

  • This link goes to our recent report on White-Hot SF Districts, but note that its analyses are notcorrelated to zip codes, are specific to a single property type (house or condo), and may compare different time periods than the map above: 5 White-Hot Districts in a Red-Hot Market 
  • For comparative home values throughout the Bay Area and within San Francisco by neighborhood: Bay Area Mapped Home Values 
    Important Issues Regarding This Analysis
    The median home price is that price at which half the sales occurred for more and half for less. Median prices can and often do fluctuate due to other factors besides changes in value, such as inventory available to purchase, seasonality, the ratio of house to condo/TIC sales, and major changes in the distressed and luxury property segments. (All these factors apply to our sales in spring 2013.) Zip codes, which were convenient for mapping, often contain neighborhoods of widely different values and market conditions – for example, 94115 includes both Pacific Heights and Western Addition; 94118 includes Presidio Heights and Inner Richmond – thus their overall statistical result is a grab-bag blend that may not reflect the market situation throughout the zip code. Some areas have many fewer sales than others – such as 94133 (North Beach, Telegraph Hill) – and the fewer the sales, the less reliable the statistics. For all these reasons and others that pertain to any statistical analysis of large numbers of relatively unique home sales with sometimes huge disparities in size, desirability of location, quality and price point, everything about this analysis should be considered approximate, with reasonable margins of error. How it applies to any particular property is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis crafted to its circumstances.