Low, High & Median Sales Prices & Average Dollar per Square Foot

SF MLS Home Sales: February 15, 2010 – August 15, 2010

Median Sales Price is that price at which half the properties sold for more and half for less. It may be affected by “unusual” events in any particular period or by changes in buying trends, as well as by changes in market values.

Dollar per Square Foot ($/sq.ft.) is based upon the home’s interior living space and does not include garages, unfinished attics and basements, rooms and apartments built without permit, decks, patios or yards (all of which can still add significant value). These figures are usually derived from appraisals or tax records, but can be unreliable or unreported altogether. (Out of every 10 sales, perhaps 6 – 8 gave square footage, from which the average is calculated.) In the charts below, neighborhoods are listed in order of median sales price. A price followed by a “k” references thousands of dollars; if followed by an “m”, it signifies millions. “REO” refers to the sale of bank-owned properties, typically pursuant to foreclosure.

Low Price & High Price are self-explanatory, but be aware that the low price listed might be for a home that needs significant work just to be habitable, while the high price sale may be for an Architectural Digest quality, panoramic-view home. All things being equal, a house will have a higher dollar per square foot than a condo (because of land value), a condo will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a TIC (quality of title), and a TIC will have a higher figure than a multi-unit building (quality of use). All things being equal, a smaller home will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a larger one. When comparing median prices and average dollar per square foot, remember that the average size (and quality) of houses or condos of the same bedroom count can vary widely by neighborhood (usually due to era and style of construction). Thus one neighborhood’s 3-bedroom house can have a higher median price and yet a lower average dollar-per-square-foot than another neighborhood — because its 3-BR houses are significantly larger.
Distress Sales: During this 6-month period, 19% of the 1232 HOUSE sales through MLS were either bank-owned (REO) or known short sales (lender reduced outstanding loan amount to allow the sale to close). However, though such sales are now scattered throughout the city, fully 71% of these 229 distress house sales took place in the less affluent, southern band of neighborhoods running from Bayview to Oceanview. For CONDOS, 14% of the 1117 sales through MLS were REOs or known short sales, and 62% of these 160 distress condo sales took place in either the eastern neighborhoods with lots of big newer developments (SOMA, South Beach) or the southern border neighborhoods.
Median and average statistics are generalities subject to fluctuation due to a variety of reasons: how they apply to any specific property is unknown. Averages may be distorted by one or two sales substantially higher or lower than the norm, especially when sample size is small. Sales not reported to MLS – such as many new-development condo sales — are not included in this analysis. All figures should be considered approximate and are derived from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and omissions, and not warranted.