According to an analysis from Better Mortgage, an online lender and homeownership platform, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and San Rafael have some of the highest average ratios between the list price and the sale price of each home sold. The company looked at Nov. 2021 housing data from real estate listings website Redfin, the most recently available figures.
Cities with ratios over 100% represent areas where homes sold for over their list prices. The bigger the number, the greater the gap between the house’s listing and sale prices.
“This isn’t the least bit surprising,” wrote Khadeejah Johnson, head of brokerage for Better Mortgage, in an email. “The Bay Area is home to some of the most competitive housing markets in the country, driven by historically low inventory levels and supply chain issues causing new construction delays and higher costs.”
Johnson said there’s scarcity in the Bay Area, especially in San Francisco and San Jose, where “buyers are competing so fiercely that sales prices are far surpassing listing prices.”
San Francisco came in second on the list, with an average sale-to-list ratio of 108.3% and 70.8% of homes sold over asking price. The median sale price was $1.575 million. The Better Mortgage article explains that the city’s “extremely low housing inventory” stayed tight because when interest rates dropped, “savvy buyers capitalized on the cheaper loans by purchasing real estate in this city.”
San Jose was third on the list, with an average sale-to-list ratio of 107.5%, with 75.8% of homes sold about the list price and a median sale price of $1.4 million. The article explains that a lack of new construction and buyers capitalizing on record-low interest rates have led to bidding wars and purchase prices to rise.
Oakland followed very closely behind with an average sale-to-list ratio of 107.3% and 76.7% of homes selling above asking price. The median sale price was unavailable. Better’s article points again to not enough inventory: Oakland’s population grew by 13% in the past decade, but new housing grew by only 5.16%, according to the report.
In eighth place, San Rafael’s average sale-to-list ratio was 104.6%, with 56.4% of homes sold above the asking price and a median home sale price of $1.325 million.
Johnson said the pandemic increased remote and hybrid work models, and low interest rates allowed more people to move out from city centers.
“Not everyone opted to move to Idaho, Colorado, Arizona or Florida,” she said. “Many homebuyers bought in the metro areas surrounding their home markets, such is the case in the Bay Area. The markets there have gotten so competitive over the last couple of years that homebuilders in the Bay Area haven’t been able to keep pace.”
Supply chain issues drove up prices higher, and many home buyers have scrambled to purchase homes while interest rates are still low, Johnson explained, which in turn has driven up the average purchase loan size. And, she said there have been even more second-home buyers on the market, adding to the scarcity.
Just outside the Bay Area, Santa Cruz also landed on the list at number 10, with an average sale-to-list ratio of 103.8%, with 62.5% of homes sold over the asking price, and a median sale price of $1.05 million
Johnson does not think the Bay Area housing market will cool anytime soon.
“Home builders are trying to catch up on a backlog of homes that won’t come close to meeting demand,” she said. “All the while, interest rates will continue to rise over the next couple of years, but homebuyers in the Bay Area will happily pay cash or the higher mortgage payments each month if it means landing the dream home they’ve been waiting years for.
In other words, demand will outstrip supply for the foreseeable future, she explained.
So what should prospective home buyers do in this wildly competitive market? Johnson said it really depends on a person’s financial situation. If someone is able to make a bigger offer to compete against other bids, then paying well over asking price might be the best course of action.
“You never want to try and time the market, so waiting on the sidelines isn’t always the best option either,” she said.
If paying over asking isn’t an option, Johnson recommends “making concessions in your search if you’re really determined to buy sooner than later.” She also said to be flexible with the size and location of a home if you plan to stay for fewer than five to seven years. And if you’re looking for the long-term, “make a higher offer if you can afford to or use a cash offer program.”
Kellie Hwang is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @KellieHwang