Below are charts for a handful of leading market indicators that update in real time, sourced directly from the San Francisco MLS. Scroll down to see the supply and demand trends measured by inventory, new listings, days on market and final selling prices.
Active Listings on the Market
The number of listings on the market at any given time is determined by 3 big factors: seasonality, buyer demand and the motivation of prospective sellers to sell. In the 5-year line chart, one can see the huge decline in listings available to purchase at any given time over the past 4 years.
Number of Listings Accepting Offers (Going under Contract)
This basic measure of market activity depends upon both buyer demand and the number of listings available to purchase. Above and beyond seasonality, a big surge in condo listings accepting offers may indicate that a new development came on market during that period.
Median Home Sales Prices
Median sales price is that price at which half the sales occurred for more and half for less. It typically conceals a large variety of different prices in the underlying individual sales, and can also be affected by other factors besides changes in home values, such as seasonality and large changes in the distressed, luxury-home or new-construction segments of the market. Short-term fluctuations are much less meaningful than longer-term trends.
Average Dollar per Square Foot on Sale
This statistic is based upon interior living space and doesn’t include garages, basements, decks, patios or rooms built without permit. Typically, square footage figures come from appraisals or tax records, but square footage can be measured in different ways and the figures can be unreliable. Also, a fair percentage of listings don’t even report square footage so the statistic is only based on those sales that do. These values should be considered very general statistical approximations.
Percentage of Sales Sold over List Price
Large percentages of sales in which the price is bid up above asking price usually signifies spirited buyer competition for new listings. Before 2012, this percentage typically ran between 30% and 40% of sales. It has climbed to new heights in recent years. This is another statistic that is affected by seasonality: Higher percentages in spring and autumn, lower during the summer and winter holidays.
Median Percentage of Sales Price to List Price
This statistic is becoming distorted because many SF listing agents are underpricing, and sometimes egregiously underpricing, their listings. Still, sales prices consistently well above asking prices are a classic sign of a very hot real estate market.
Median Days on Market
Under 30 days is considered a fast moving market. Below 20 days reflects extremely high buyer demand for new listings. This figure would be even lower except that many San Francisco agents prefer to show their listings for 10 to 14 days before the seller even reviews offers, so as to fully expose the home to as many prospective buyers as possible and thus maximize the potential of a bidding war.
Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)
MSI measures how long it would take to sell the existing inventory of listings for sale at current rates of market activity. Typically, under 3 months of inventory is considered a seller’s market; 2 months or less signify an extreme seller’s market.