Home Affordability

February 3, 2015

Bay Area Real Estate Outlook 2017: 5 Key Takeaways


Pacific Union teamed with noted Irvine, Calif.-based consulting firm John Burns Real Estate Consulting (JBREC) to deliver a first-of-its-kind, forward-looking report and presentation that offer a lens into the future of the Bay Area’s residential real estate market and economy.

In an exclusive, hour-long Nov. 5 presentation at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin, JBREC CEO John Burns, and JBREC Senior Vice President Dean Wehrli  introduced the report and expanded on the factors that will shape the Bay Area and Tahoe/Truckee real estate landscape over the next three years.

Highlights from the forecast event include:

1.  We project the rate of annual price appreciation in most Bay Area regions to slow from its current rate of roughly 8 percent to 1 to 4 percent over the next three years. The level of continued investor activity will play a prominent role in price appreciation.

2.  The Bay Area’s housing market is currently the hottest in the United States, but prices are close to peaking.

3.  Job growth is outpacing population growth across the Bay Area — most notably in the San Francisco and San Jose regions – which is driving demand for real estate. Silicon Valley has one of the highest median incomes in the nation, and incomes are projected to continuing growing.

4.  The Bay Area and California have a very limited supply of new homes being built. In 2013, more homes were constructed in the Houston metropolitan area than in the entire state of California.

5.  Because of the home-price-to-income ratio, the number of residents who can afford to buy a home is much lower in the Bay Area than it is across the United States. Affordability in the Bay Area currently ranges from 23 percent in San Francisco to 43 percent in Sonoma County.

I encourage you to view the webcast of the event to get a complete picture of where our real estate markets are heading. We have produced a Mandarin-language version of the webcast.

January 12, 2015

How Much Do You Need To Earn to Afford A Home in the SF Bay Area?


2015 Blog Photo Money House Origami


Prospective homebuyers in the San Francisco region need to earn nearly three times as much as those in the rest of the country in order to afford a property, reflecting the rapid price appreciation our local markets have enjoyed over the past few years.

In a study, HSH.com crunched third-quarter numbers for 27 major U.S. metro areas and found that buyers in the San Francisco region need to earn a minimum of $145,361 per year to afford the $744,400 median-price home, the highest of any city included in the report. Nationwide, the average homebuyer could afford the median-price home on an annual salary of about $51,000.

While local buyers will certainly need at least one healthy income — or better yet, two — to afford a home, the study says that the San Francisco area actually saw the largest quarter-over-quarter decline in required salary, partially due to a 3 percent home price decrease in that same time period.


Sluggish construction activity is likely causing the price differential between to new and existing homes to widen, says a blog post from the National Association of Realtors.

In November, the median price for a newly constructed U.S. home was $280,900, 36 percent more than an existing home. NAR says that, historically, new homes have commanded 15 to 20 percent more than their older counterparts.

Part of the reason for the growing divide is the fact that construction activity is still 35 percent below normal levels. Although single-family housing starts have risen in four of the past five years and are projected to increase to 820,000 in 2015, NAR warns that the uptick may not be enough to keep home prices from rising further.



Although the U.S. housing recovery is projected to continue in 2015, there are some potential hazards that could throw it off track, according to a CNN Money article.

A drop-off in investor activity, both institutional and foreign, is a chief concern, although Chinese buyers remain quite active. Rising mortgage rates, which some economists say are guaranteed this year, are also a cause for concern, as is strict access to credit.

Finally, for the housing recovery to stay on track, incomes will at least need to keep pace with home prices, CNN Money says.


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