< Back to market reports

San Francisco Luxury House Prices & Market Trends

Paragon Real Estate Group
FaceBook Twitter Pinterest Google LinkedIn Instagram

San Francisco Luxury HOUSE Market Report

Updated in February 2018

Prices, Conditions & Market Trends

Link to Paragon's main reports page

As seen in the chart above, so far in 2018, SF luxury home sales have been very strong, higher than in any previous year since the recovery began in 2012. The recent stock market volatility notwithstanding, the economic confidence that has been sweeping the nation is also showing up in our luxury home markets. For example, as of February 16th, the sales of condos, co-ops and TICs at prices of $2m and above has jumped 55% in the city, year over year, and luxury houses by 19%. Note that year-to-date data is very preliminary and much more will be known once the spring selling season really gets started in earnest. Also, if the recent financial market volatility continues and becomes even more dramatic, that may cool high-end home markets (and IPO activity) as it has in the past.

However behind the positive sales statistics, inventory statistics provide a note of caution, especially for what we call the ultra-luxury home segments: houses selling for $5m+ and condos and co-ops selling for $3m+. In those segments, the supply of listings has been surging well beyond demand, and many of these listings are expiring without selling. As an example, ultra-luxury home sales make up about 2.5% of total sales, but as of February 23rd, they made up 12% of active SF home listings (no offer accepted). It appears some sellers are getting a bit over-exuberant regarding the value of their beautiful homes. This is illustrated in the 2 charts below.Further in the report we will look at the considerable variance in market dynamics in different city neighborhoods.

Just because a luxury market segment is notated as being in buyer-advantage market territory does not mean that some listings do not sell very quickly for well over asking price, as some certainly do. On the other hand, there are listings in the lower, seller-advantage price segments that are overpriced and ignored. Ultimately in real estate, it all depends on the specific property, its specific location, its appeal, preparation, marketing and pricing. Again: different neighborhoods are often experiencing very different market conditions in the city, especially in the luxury homes segments.

How the 2018 market plays out depends on a number of factors that are susceptible to change: financial markets, interest rates, the course of the high-tech boom, whether our big, local start-ups proceed with IPOs, political developments, and so on. (Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets) For the time being, the San Francisco market appears to be off to a heated start characterized by robust demand. Here at Paragon, our 2018 SF sales volume is up 30% year over year, though admittedly we are outperforming the general market, which is up about 5%.


San Francisco Luxury House Sales
by Era of Construction

The great majority of SF luxury houses sold in 2017 were
built prior to 1940. More than half were built before 1920.


Most analyses in this report are based on 6-month or 12-month rolling figures as those typically provide a better illustration of the general direction of market trends (using larger data sets), as opposed to common monthly fluctuations (based on very small data sets). Each data point is these cases reflects the average or median statistic for the 6 or 12 month period.

Overview: Luxury Home Listing & Sales Volumes
All houses priced $3m+; All condos, co-ops, TICs priced $2m+

Active Listings on Market since 2005

Sales Volume since 2005

Overview: Ultra-Luxury Listings & Sales Volumes
Houses priced $5m+; Condos, co-ops, TICs priced $3m+

Active Listings on Market since 2005

Sales Volume since 2005

The charts above illustrate overall listing and sales volume trends for 1) in the top 2 charts, the entire luxury home market, and then, 2) in the bottom 2 charts, specifically for the more costly ultra-luxury segment. There are some significant differences between the luxury condo and house markets - houses have constituted the stronger market - but, generally speaking, luxury home sales soared since the recovery began in 2012, cooled a bit in late 2015 (financial market volatility), and then bounced back in late 2016 and 2017. The inventory of active listings on the market has risen considerably in the past 2 years, which has appreciably altered supply and demand dynamics. As a point of comparison, in the more affordable home segments (especially for houses), supply has not risen, and indeed has declined in some areas, and inventory is still very inadequate when compared to the heated demand.

In this analysis, charts will sometimes use different price thresholds for the luxury designation, depending on when the chart was first created, or whether different property types are being mixed together. Right now, we consider that luxury condos, co-ops & TICs start at about $2m, and luxury houses at $3m - that is roughly the top 10% of their markets. What we call ultra-luxury adds another $1m to condo sales prices, and another $2m to houses, and constitutes about the top 2.5%.


Market Seasonality

The real estate market in San Francisco is noticeably affected by seasonality with significant ebbs and flows in activity, but the luxury home segment is drastically affected. As illustrated by these 2 charts below, the high-price market wakes up and heats up as the new year gets going, with spring typically being the most active season overall for sales. It then slows way down in mid-summer, spikes back up dramatically for the short autumn selling season, and then plunges for the mid-winter holiday period.

Note the delay between new listings coming on market and listings accepting offers: For example, September is typically the single month with the highest number of new listings, leading to the big October spike of listings going into contract. Sales then usually close 3 to 5 weeks after going into contract.


New Listings Coming on Market
Long-Term Trends since 2005, 12-Month Rolling Figures

Obviously, the supply of luxury homes available to purchase plays a huge roll in market dynamics. Supply is affected by 3 large factors: 1) the number of new listings coming on market, 2) how quickly these new listings sell, and 3) how many listings are taken off the market because they cannot find buyers (expired and withdrawn listings). The chart below looks at longer term trends for new listing activity: The number of new listings hitting the market accelerated in early 2016 as the luxury segment was cooling due to financial market volatility (Chinese stock market crash, oil price crash, Brexit vote).


San Francisco Luxury HOUSE Market Analysis

The following charts drill down specifically on the luxury $3m to $4.99m market, and then the ultra-luxury $5m+ house market, and also break out statistics on the top neighborhood districts for these sales.

Overview: Luxury House Sales Trends since 2012

The next two charts illustrate how the growth in supply (active listings) over the last 3 years started to outpace the growth in demand (closed sales). A softening in the supply and demand equation, and the reduction in bidding competition between buyers, reduces pressure on price appreciation. Conversely, in the non-luxury, more affordable market segments, supply has continued to dwindle over recent years amid feverish buyer demand (lots of bidding wars), which has continued to push those prices up.

Luxury Houses - Priced $3m to $4.99m
Active listings vs. Sales since 2005

Ultra-Luxury Houses - Priced $5m+
Active listings vs. Sales since 2005

Overview: Average Dollar per Square Foot Values

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)

This 6-month rolling, months supply of inventory chart illustrates 2 things: 1) that, not surprisingly, the lesser expensive end of the luxury house segment has a stronger demand vs. supply dynamic than the ultra-luxury segment (as shown by lower MSI figures), and 2) the autumn 2017 sales season was quite hot, which led MSI figures to drop precipitately, especially in the $3m to $4.99m segment. Note: Much of the drop in December and January is due to sellers pulling their listings off the market for the holiday season: We will now have to wait to see what occurs in the spring selling season, typically the most active of the year.

Luxury House Market by San Francisco District

San Francisco Luxury House Sales by Neighborhood

The Pacific Heights-Marina district still has the highest number of active house listings priced $3m and above (the blue line in the first chart below), but in 2017, the central district of greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys took the lead, by a nose, in the number of sales. (Chart above and the red line in the second chart below.) The staggering growth in luxury house sales in this district since 2012 has been supercharged by the high-tech boom: Its younger, very affluent, high-tech demographic likes the lower key ambiance and demographic mix of these neighborhoods, and their proximity to both the liveliness of the Mission district and to highways south to the peninsula. This district dominates the $3m to $5m price segment, though sales above that are still relatively rare.

Active Listings by District

Sales Volume by District

Ultra-Luxury House Sales by District

The northern Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow & Marina district still completely dominates the market for ultra-luxury houses priced $5m & above. Not shown on chart: A very small number of ultra-luxury house sales also occurs in the Russian, Nob and Telegraph Hills district (but are vastly outnumbered by condo and co-op sales there).

Overview: Expired/Withdrawn Listings (no sale)

Listings Not Selling (Expired/Withdrawn) vs. Sales

When the number of listings expiring or being withdrawn from the market without selling (the red bars) starts to elongate in comparison to the number of listings selling (the blue bars), that typically signifies that sellers want more money than buyers are willing to pay, and/or that the inherent demand for homes of that price in that area is too small to digest the inventory of listings for sale. The example that stands out in this chart is the segment for ultra-luxury houses in the greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district: More $5m+ listings expired or were withdrawn without selling than actually sold.

Note that listings that expire or withdrawn sometimes come back on the market at lower prices, and then sell.

Average Dollar per Square Foot by District

By far the highest average dollar per square foot values for luxury houses is found in Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow & Marina, generally ranging recently in the $1400 to $1500 range. The other areas with established luxury house markets are generally seeing values in the range of $1000 to $1125 dollar per square foot. The St. Francis Wood district has seen a big surge over the past 18 months, with values jumping from around $800 to over $1000.

Remember that averages almost always disguise an enormous range of values in the underlying individual sales. How an average or median value statistic applies to any particular property is impossible to say without a specific, tailored comparative market analysis.

Pacific & Presidio Heights
Median Sales Price Trends

Full of mansions with Golden Gate Bridge views, this is
the most expensive house market in San Francisco.

Noe, Eureka (Castro) & Cole Valleys
Luxury House Sales Trends

Over the past 6 years, the fastest growing luxury
house market in the city.


Annual Changes in Classic Market Statistics

The next 6 charts compare year-over-year changes in annual statistics measuring the heat of the market: How quickly do luxury home listings sell (i.e. accept offers)? What percentage of listings sell quickly? Of those listings that sell quickly, how do sales prices compare to asking prices, i.e. average overbidding percentages? What percentage of listings sell for over the final list price? And how many listings expire or are withdrawn without selling?

Generally speaking, the statistics remain generally flat from 2016 to 2017, or reflect the market getting a little bit stronger year over year, but weaker than in 2015, which was the most recent peak in market heat (i.e. demand vs. supply). However, as noted earlier in this report, the number of actual sales in 2017 was higher than in 2015, fueled by an even larger jump in listings.

Average Days on Market

Percentage of Sales Occurring within 30 Days

Though still historically high, the percentage of listings which sell that sell quickly has dropped since the peak in 2015. However, this reduction does not take into account the increasing number of listings that are not selling at all (i.e. expired/withdrawn listings), which would effectively reduce these percentages further.

The below chart reflects overbidding for only those listings selling within 30 days.
If priced well and appealing, buyers are often still competing for the purchase.

Average Overbidding Percentages - All Sales

Percentage of Sales over Final List Price
(Not adjusted for listings that do not sell)

Expired/Withdrawn (No Sale) Listings

The number of listings expiring or being withdrawn instead of selling
has shot up in the last 2 years.


Listings Selling Quickly; Selling after Price Reductions;
or Not Selling at All

This first chart below, combining luxury homes of all types, illustrates the differences between those listings the market deems attractive and well-priced - on average, selling quickly for over asking price - and those listings that have to go through price reductions before selling, and then those listings that don’t sell at all, but instead expire or are withdrawn from the market.

The second chart below compares the median asking prices, sales prices, and expired/withdrawn (no sale) prices.

Median list prices for those listings that do not sell, are significantly higher than
the median list prices of those that do - which suggests overpricing as a major factor.

Other Paragon reports you might find interesting:

San Francisco Neighborhood Affordability

Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets

Survey of Bay Area Real Estate Markets

San Francisco & Bay Area Demographics

Paragon Main Real Estate Reports Page


San Francisco Luxury House Market Statistics

Overview trends for houses selling for $3 million +
Auto-updating charts - may take a few moments to load

Line graphs reflect 12-month rolling numbers showing long-term trends since 2005.
The bar charts are 3-month rolling, year-over-year comparisons for 3 most recent years

Luxury House Sales Volume

Each data point = 12 months sales data

3-month rolling totals, year-over-year comparisons

New Luxury House Listings Coming on Market

Each data point = past 12 months total of new listing activity

3-month rolling totals, year-over-year comparisons

By MONTH for past year: Illustrates the extreme seasonal swings in the high-price market.

Luxury House Listings Accepting Offers
(Going into contract)

By MONTH for past year: Also illustrates the seasonal swings in the luxury home market.

Active Luxury House Listings at End of Month

Monthly average for previous 12 months

Year-over year comparisons, 3-month rolling average

Luxury House: Average Dollar per Square Foot Values

Average for previous 12 months of sales

3-month rolling average, year-over-year comparisons

Average Days on Market before Acceptance of Offer

Average for previous 12 month period

3-month rolling average, year-over-year comparisons

Luxury House: Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)

Average MSI for previous 12-month period

3-month rolling average, year-over-year comparisons

Luxury House: Median Percentage of Final List Price Achieved on Sale

Median % for previous 12-month period

The spring and autumn selling seasons are the big ones for the San Francisco luxury house market: October 2017 saw a new high in monthly sales volume, exceeding the previous peak set in October 2016. This report will pay particular attention to the different neighborhood markets within SF.

We typically use $3,000,000 as the price threshold for the luxury house market in San Francisco: That approximately defines the top 10% of the market. The ultra-luxury segment starts at $5 million, which constitutes the top 2.5% of sales. Of course, what one gets in the different neighborhoods for the same price can vary dramatically: A fixer-upper in Presidio Heights may go for the same price as a large, gracious mansion in St. Francis Wood in move-in condition. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

Link to our update on the SF luxury CONDO market

All our Paragon reports can be found here


Overview: Listing & Sales Activity

If you wish, you may skip our summary and jump to additional
graphed analyses further below.


The luxury real estate market is impacted by a number of factors: positively, by improvement in general economic conditions and confidence, highly-paid employment and population growth, and especially, by the creation of new wealth in large quantities. All these elements were dynamically present in the Bay Area from 2012 through mid-2015. Then significant economic and political volatility put a damper on luxury home sales: Chinese stock market turmoil, the crash in oil prices, Brexit, large U.S. stock market swings, as well as an apparent cooling in our high-tech boom, all injected uncertainty into financial and our luxury real estate markets. Furthermore, Bay Area high-tech IPOs, which had created a stupendous amount of new wealth since 2011, basically dried up - and newly rich or further enrichened buyers have played a big role in demand.

These changes in the economic environment caused the SF luxury home market to cool in autumn 2015. Generally speaking, the segment most affected was the market for re-sale luxury condos, particularly in those districts where big, new-construction, projects are concentrated. There has been very little new, luxury house construction in the city - only about 8 to 10 per year built since 2000 (as opposed to many thousands of new condos), which is one reason the SF house segment has generally been stronger than that for condos.

Then in October 2016, after a sudden huge surge in listings, SF luxury house sales hit a new high in sales volume, and in June 2017, the luxury condo market suddenly hit a new high as well. However, neither segment is as strong, as measured by standard market metrics, as it was during the 2014 to mid-2015 peak of market heat. Many of the statistics in this report reflect a similar trend: The market getting increasingly hotter 2012 through mid-2015, cooling from autumn 2015 through most of 2016 (during substantial financial market and political volatility), and then strengthening again in late 2016 and 2017. Now we are waiting to see how the spring 2018 luxury home market shakes out.


Overview: Dollar per Square Foot Values

Overview: Average Days on Market

Overview: Months Supply of Inventory


San Francisco Luxury House Market
by Neighborhood & District

Median Sales Prices & Avg. Dollar per Square
Foot Values by District

Luxury House Listings & Sales Volumes by District

In the past 6 years, the Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district has seen very considerable growth in the luxury house segment. To a large degree, this shift began in the last few years of the previous millennium, when the dotcom boom suddenly erupted. Among other issues, the recent high-tech booms have somewhat changed the demographics of Bay Area wealth and of the SF luxury home buyer, and the lower-key neighborhood ambiance many younger, newly affluent buyers prefer. Another factor is that this district is much closer to highways south to the peninsula and the head offices of many high-tech giants than the wealthy northern neighborhoods. All in all, it constitutes a totally different choice from neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and Russian Hill, and from the newer, luxury high-rise condos of South Beach-SoMa, each of which appeals to a different, but substantial segment of buyers.

Top Luxury House Districts: Months Supply of Inventory

Top Luxury House Districts: % of Sales Accepting Offers within 30 Days

Top Luxury House Districts: % of Sales over List Price

Top Luxury House Districts: Listings Taken Off Market without Selling


Ultra-Luxury House Sales in San Francisco

The Top 2.5% of Sales, $5m+

The most expensive house sales are clustered in the Pacific & Presidio Heights district, with typically a handful-plus sales each in the Russian, Nob & Telegraph Hills district and the Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district (which includes Ashbury Heights and Buena Vista Park). Every now and then a huge Alamo Square mansion will sell in this price range. Russian Hill and Sea Cliff have very few house sales in any given year, but they sometimes sell for prices well over $10m.

Please let us know if you have questions or we can be of assistance in any other way.

Link to our update on the SF luxury CONDO market

Link to our complete SF luxury real estate report

All Paragon Bay Area market reports


It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and are subject to revision. It is not our intent to convince you of a particular position, but to attempt to provide straightforward data and analysis, so you can make your own informed decisions. Median and average statistics are enormous generalities: There are hundreds of different markets in San Francisco and the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices and average dollar per square foot values can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value. Longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group