Why is the SF housing market "positive?"


It's been a long, long time since anyone said that traffic is terrific. When there are too many cars on the road, it's considered bad, not healthy -- even if the boom in single-occupant auto travel is a sign of a recovering economy and lots of job creation.

So why do newspaper reports still talk about a "positive market trend" when home prices reach levels that no middle-class people can ever afford? Why does the Chronicle run a quote like this ...

Steve Berkowitz, CEO of online listing company Move Inc., said the region "is seeing a real stabilization and a really positive market trend. There is a very solid market in all the Bay Area counties."

... without any indication that soaring housing prices are bad for most people who want to live in the area, bad for businesses, particularly small businesses, that have trouble paying employees enough to afford to live near where they work, bad for the environment (when people have to move further and further from their jobs to find affordable housing) and generally bad for the region?

Yes, it's good to see that people who were underwater on their homes are getting back into the black. But for the most part, what we're seeing is the affordability of homes soar way beyond the reach of the vast majority of people who work in San Francisco. That's not "terrific." That's terrifying.


Dude...it's a quote. They published a quote from an independent analyst. Rising home prices are a good thing for a lot of people and generally considered to be good for the economy.

You gotta understand. the Chronicle is a newspaper, they try to present facts and varied viewpoints. They don't have an overriding agenda that they seek to push 24-7 like the SFBG does. And they aren't required to help you push your agenda.

And to answer your question, most people equate an increase in value as being "positive" and a decrease in value as "negative". Especially given the difficulties that so many people had in recent years when their home prices declined.

The SFBG predilection for wanting everything to decrease in value isn't the way that most people approach things.

Posted by Troll on May. 16, 2013 @ 10:53 am

You speak for "most people", of course.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:09 am

falling share and home prices, mass firings, and another greatd epression.

Because then, and only then, the losers, failures and wastrels that he seems to adore will be able to afford to live in San Francisco.

It's a novel take on ethnic and economic cleansing, informed by the Russian Revolution.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:11 am

Informed by Russian Revolution?? Do you trolls ever listen to yourselves? My God, how can anyone be that dumb? But I do like the new word that you've coined (however unwittingly). Following the e-boom, we can all look forward to the e-bust leading into the next Great Epression....all brought to you by the e-lites.

(sorry, but Tim's "hopes" have nothing to do with it.)

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:26 am

as he routinely complains when home prices, shares or profits increase, and regularly opposes business development and investment in the city.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:50 am

Could it be that Tim wants to keep SF as a livable city, hospitable to people of ALL incomes, not just the uber wealthy?

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

Yes, and the best way to do this is to make sure that no housing gets constructed, anywhere, ever, for any reason.

this will transform SF into a place where everyone can live!

Posted by NOT_Eric_Brooks on May. 16, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

>"Could it be that Tim wants to keep SF as a livable city, hospitable to people of ALL incomes, not just the uber wealthy?"

Good theory but then why does Tim constantly speak against 8 Washington? Does 8 Washington prevent any less-than-uber wealthy people from living in San Francisco? If anything it provides a couple of million for affordable housing and some other benefits. Tim simple hates rich people. He once explained that he finds them 'boring'.

Look, last week or so Tim wrote this piece about how the actions of one rude guy on a Google bus illustrates that an entire class of people are unworthy. Classic bigotry.

Yes, he gets a lot of ridicule but he deserves even more.

Posted by Troll on May. 16, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

expensive place like SF to be affordable by every impoverished itinerant that he would like to see live here.

Indeed, when Tim does come up with a policy idea, it is invariably one that will make housing even more expensive like:

1) Not build 8Wash that would generate 11 million for affordable houisng

2) Expand rent control when even as is, it is driving many landlords to Ellis evictions

3) Build nothing

4) Try and drive business about of SF, thereby removing the means of SF'ers to afford their housing costs.

Tim has done more harm to affordable housing than almost anyone in SF.

Posted by anon on May. 16, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

the same formula tried by the right-wing for so long. Tim blames property owners then tries to shame them, the right-wing blamed women for having abortions and then tried to shame them. Both claim they're operating in the best interests of society.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 16, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

Hey, those are my people you're talking about! The ones who made San Francisco great.

Posted by tim on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:25 am

winners, affluent people and success stories, there are still other cities elsewhere, and particularly in the mid-west, where there is still a majority of economic under-achievers and economic failures.

It must be reassuring to know there are other places that you would also find to be "great".

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

This happens every time the local economy improves.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 10:54 am

Because "improve" is another word like "good" and "positive" - words not in his lexicon.

He wants recession, business failures and a collapse in confidence.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:12 am

It's interesting how you trolls have managed to penetrate deep inside the mind of Tim. I'm sure you've made a thorough and exhaustive study Tim's mind. And of course, there could be no other explanation but that Tim *wants* recession, business failure and the collapse of our fair city. My word, he sounds like such a villainous character, every bit as evil as Severus Snape or The Joker. Call in Batman before Tim strikes again!

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:42 am

every day, it is reasonable that people will discern a pattern and call him on it.

But you can easily prove me wrong here. Simply show me an article where Tim praises big business and states clear support for bigger profits.

I'll wait.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

No need. Tim is no knuckledragging reactionary who only cares the bottom line. He actually gives a damn about the people in this community, livable neighborhoods, equal distribution of resources, diversity, balance, sensible public policy, etc. Go figure.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

But then I'd have to ask the question why did he make it so difficult for anyone to believe that?

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

and demand subsidies from the federal government.

Posted by Matlock on May. 16, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

1) It takes the heat off some homeowners who foolishly borrowed more than was prudent, didn't read their small print or used their home as an ATM.

2) It increases consumer confidence, and that drives spending, profits and so hiring

3) For the 2/3 of Americans who own their own home, it helps create equity and a nestegg for their retirement when, often, folks can sell up, move somewhere smaller and/or cheaper, and use that equity to improve their standard of living

4) It means there is a genuine two-way market. A more active and liquid markets enables better price discovery and helps with mobility.

5) Chances are, most of the people who cannot afford SF homes (up 30% in the last year, according to dataQuick) couldn't afford one before anyway. Not everyone can afford to own in SF - that's why we have rentals.

Give me another five minutes and I'll come up with five more positives.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:04 am

There's Oakland, Fremont, Concord, etc., all conveniently served by BART. In the real world (which I understand Tim visits occasionally), high demand and low supply result in higher prices, which is generally considered a positive sign. But it's nothing another 7.1 earthquake won't fix.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:09 am

a desert with nothing for hundreds of miles around, like Las Vegas.

But the reality is that San Francisco is just one part of the Bay Area, and housing issues are really about the entire urban area and not just one part of it.

One suspects the SFBG opposed BART because they wanted to continue to argue for "San Francisco exceptionalism" but they lost that battle, as indeed they lose every battle.

BART, plus the freewaus and ferries means that only a fraction of those who work in SF need to be able to afford to live here. And that is exactly how it should be, of course.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

"Why is the SF housing market "positive?""

Because your house in SF is now worth more, Tim.

And yet, you continue to whine...

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:38 am

You're confusing growth in asset values with wage stagnation and income inequality. Increase in asset values is not inherently bad (it can be if inflation outpaces buying power or is because of an asset bubble). Increase in asset values do magnify things like wage stagnation, income inequality, etc. Those are the things you should be complaining about. Complain about the inequality that means some people don't get to benefit from growth. The growth itself is not a problem, unless you really think stagnation is what we want.

Posted by dawdler on May. 16, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

Some degree of asset inflation is to be expected based on finite resources and an expanding population, but when such inflation stems from speculative investment it is simply forming an asset bubble having no relationship to actual values and destined ultimately to fail again bringing more woes to the poorests individuals in the economy.

The "stagnation" of an honest economy which values the labor and skills of workers on an equitable basis and does not present them with unattainably priced neccessities is what we need.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

society with fiat money and a fractional banking system.

If you want to suppress that, then we should go back to "sound money" principles and, ideally, the gold standard.

But wait, who would oppose that? Exactly the Krugman-adoring, Keynesian, deficit-loving liberals.

So the delicious irony here is that the asset market inflation cycles that the left loves to whine about is caused by - wait for it - liberal policies.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

underconsumption, business cycles and all the other principles of capitalism existed long before the ending of the gold standard.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Could you gamble 100 times your investment if you had to have the gold to back it up?

Could banks lend 20 times their capital if they had to have real reserves to cover the liability?

Keynes was rightly criticized recently by Niall Fergusen for ignoring the long-term impact of his expansionary policies. As a gay, Keynes had no children and so had no interest in what might happen after his death as a result of his policies.

If you've been foreclosed on, blame Keynes.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

sort which inspired me to create the nicknames "Bold Lying Guest" and "Bold Effrontery Guest" for this one, who also goes under "anon," "Anon," and "Anonymous" to name a few others. The sad sack of shit has got to be responsible for at least a quarter of the postings here on this site -- and all without a single intelligent observation or even valid fact among them.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 16, 2013 @ 2:10 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

I don't know or care anything about his sexuality. I do know that gay people are no less concerned about the future than straight people. I know that Ferguson apologized. And I know that JMK's wife was pregnant but miscarried.


Posted by tim on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:30 am

Political correctness claims it's usual victim - the truth.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:48 am

Market cycles have been plaguing mankind for centuries, at least.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

Or at least, that is what the left keep telling me.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

Having one multi-billionaire in your town makes it much more unequal, but far from making the poor poorer, that actually eaither has no effect OR it has a positive effect because that multi-billionaire spend money, invests locally and hires people.

That's why cities try and attract wealthy people. It may increase "inequality" but it makes the poor less poor, and that is far more important.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

the same trickle down bullshit. You must stick to internet commentary because it's hard for you to talk with a rich guy's dick in your mouth.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

Just abuse the messenger and hope it works?

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

Those people who can't afford now would never be able to afford in good or bad times. Move somewhere else.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 4:13 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

then housing prices would go down. You really do not seem to understand that fundamental fact. Most homes and apartments in this city are not being bought by investors, they are being purchased by people who live in the city or live in Silicon Valley and want to live here.

Clearly Tim doesn't leave his circle of malcontent, impoverished friends very often. A lot of people here make a lot of money - not millions but even $150,000 a year x2 is enough to afford a home in the city. Frankly - that's not even a lot of money. Most people I know make quite a bit more. Designers, physicians, programmers, attorneys - there is A LOT of money here. Yes there are poor people but San Francisco by-and-large is a very wealthy city. It's not the city Tim came of age in and it never will be again.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 16, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

a year can afford the average SF home.

The average SF home costs around 750K right now, so if you put 20% down and borrow four times that 150K salary, you're in.

Absolutely agree with you that if homes were unaffordable, they'd be vacant, and very few are.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 7:04 am

True, but someone making $150K isn't as likely to vote for the SFBG agenda of permanent government social engineering. Hence the crisis.

Posted by Troll on May. 17, 2013 @ 7:33 am

I agree that an increasing housing market is a good thing, not a bad thing. It's healthy for the economy.

I disagree, however, that someone making $150,000 can afford to buy a median priced house in San Francisco (unless they have money from outside sources) -- at least very easily. To buy a $750,000 house, you're going to need to put about $150,000 down minimum. Saving up $150,000 on a $150,000 salary is challenging. After federal taxes, state taxes, sales taxes, 401k withholding, rent, healthcare, food, eating out, entertainment, car, insurance, student loans (if applicable), etc. that guy is not going to have a hell of a lot left over. Given how our tax code works, and high CA taxes, the tax hit alone is substantial. It takes a long to save for that down payment.

And $750,000 in this town is going to get you a 1 bedroom in a good part of town or something bigger in a neighborhood you don't want to live in that much.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 8:10 am

Quick assumptions...someone making $150K might net $100K after taxes. That is $8,333 a month. A single person should be able to live very comfortably in the city for under $4K a month, at which rate they could save $150K in about 3 years, assuming no help from the investment markets.

Maybe longer if there are big student loans or extenuating circumstances. Plus, you have to want to save the money. Which means a moderate rent and payments on a Toyota rather than an Audi. Or maybe no car until you have a garage to put it in.

Posted by Troll on May. 17, 2013 @ 8:44 am

Remember that 750K is the median home price, meaning that half of all homes are priced less than that.

Also, you can still put 10% down for a 80-10-10 loan.

SF property may be expensive when expressed as a multiple of incomes here, but they are affordable, as evidence by the low DOM and multiple bids over asking that are commonplace again.

Many SF'ers are happy to spend over half their income on rent, so why not on a mortgage, especially with the tax deduction?

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:20 am

Yes, you may be right. But a lot of people have families, and they are being forced out of the city.

Posted by tim on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:32 am

more than just the cost of housing.

It's also the type of housing - Sf doesn't have the type of single-family homes with big gardens that families typically need.

Plus the ability to park on your property or very close to.

And the number one reason I hear from fellow parents - SF's school allocation system.

Plus the usual i.e. crime, pollution, quality of life etc.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:50 am

Yeah, and a lot of families have 2 wage earners. Does it suck that 1 parent doesn't get to stay home with the kids? Sure. But if you've read the papers at some point over the past 3 decades you'll see that it is hardly limited to San Francisco.

Also, raising kids in a big city IS a luxury, by any standard. That's why young parents all over the country have to suck it in and buy the boring place in the suburbs near a railway station. Maybe to return to the city when the kids are grown.

Unfortunate perhaps, but hardly a San Francisco phenomenon.

Posted by Troll on May. 17, 2013 @ 9:58 am

help drive out families. Examples:

1) Anti-police bias leading to more crime
2) Oppose new build of more expensive homes
3) Encourage homeless people, oppose sit-lie and nudity bans
4) Support for school bussing - that is massive
5) Support for nightclubs, pot smoking, street protests etc.

Posted by Guest on May. 17, 2013 @ 10:48 am

Most of the families I know support the Guardian's position on all these issues. The ones that are leaving are leaving because it's too expensive to live here. And building more condos for the rich doesn't help them one bit.

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

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