Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!


July 20, 2019

SF does not have the highest rents in the Bay Area

Via Shutterstock

Menlo Park and Palo Alto beat SF when it comes to stratospheric rents

For years, San Francisco’s soaring rent prices have made headlines, with tales of $1,200-per-month bunk beds and split bedrooms shocking the nation. And yet, not only is SF’s median rent not the highest in the country, but some Bay Area cities even outpace San Francisco’s monstrous housing costs.

This week, rental site Rent Cafe released its 2019 mid-year rent report for the Bay Area, tallying activity in 260 cities, including 44 in the Bay Area. The results are exhausting: In the entire region, only one city, Alameda, has seen its median rent drop since January (by $85, down to $2,513).

Rent Cafe’s data, which represents all apartment sizes and comes by way of Santa Barbara-based analysts Yardi Matrix, holds that SF’s median median market rent is $3,697 per month in June of this year.

That’s well more than double the site’s reported national average of $1,465. But you don’t have to travel very far from San Francisco to run into worse news: Menlo Park, home of Facebook, has the highest rents in the region, averaging $4,638 per month.

Palo Alto also beat out SF with a startling $3,857 per month price tag. The cheapest rents in the Bay Area, on the other hand, are in Vallejo, which at $1,773 per month is close to the nationwide median.

It’s worth noting that Rent Cafe does not list very many homes in these cities; right now the site hosts 27 Menlo Park homes, and only 32 in Palo Alto, making for small and potentially volatile sample sizes.

But both of those Silicon Valley cities also have more expensive median rents listed with the U.S. Census. In fact, here’s how all 44 of the cited cities compared to one another in gross median rents for 2017 (still the most recent year for which the census has data this particular statistic):

  • Cupertino: $2,829
  • Foster City: $2,763
  • Palo Alto: $2,379
  • Dublin: $2,353
  • San Ramon: $2,152
  • Sunnyvale: $2,147
  • Pleasanton: $2,140
  • Menlo Park: $2,111
  • Pacifica: $2,110
  • Mountain View: $2,103
  • Milpitas: $2,099
  • Santa Clara: $2,096
  • San Mateo: $2,041
  • Emeryville: $2,038
  • Fremont: $2,028
  • San Bruno: $1,999
  • Larkspur: $1,987
  • Redwood City: $1,956
  • Campbell: $1,923
  • Daly City: $1,899
  • Union City: $1,883
  • Pleasant Hill: $1,856
  • San Jose: $1,822
  • Walnut Creek: $1,803
  • Livermore: $1,768
  • San Rafael: $1,718
  • San Francisco: $1,709
  • Petaluma: $1,667
  • Martinez: $1,626
  • Alameda: $1,607
  • Hayward: $1,562
  • Antioch: $1,562
  • Napa: $1,546
  • Rohnert Park: $1,539
  • Berkeley: $1,523
  • Pittsburg: $1,517
  • Vacaville: $1,470
  • Concord: $1,459
  • Fairfield: $1,445
  • Santa Rosa: $1,432
  • San Leandro: $1,392
  • Richmond: $1,329
  • Vallejo: $1,301
  • Oakland: $1,255

Surprisingly, San Francisco was well below the median of medians in the entire region two years ago. Of course, there’s a big difference between the city’s actual median rent (as seen in the census) and its market median rent (as seen on sites like Rent Cafe).

Even so, the takeaway here is that it’s not implausible that a city like Menlo Park may turn out to be the Bay Area’s priciest renter locale.

As for why San Francisco’s actual rents are low compared to its neighbors and its own market rent prices? It’s hard to say, but it is worth noting that SF is one of only 15 cities in California with rent control—and according to the SF Planning Department, that covers well over half of SF renters.


July 20, 2019

SF home prices drop, still unaffordable for all

Curbed SF - Allby Adam Brinklow

“It’s possible price points for homes have reached a level that households simply cannot afford”

On Thursday, Orange County-based data firm Core Logic reported that the median home price in San Francisco is down year over year, dropping four percent in May.

Earlier this year, the firm recorded the first drop in the Bay Area’s median price year over year since 2012, diminishing an almost comically small yet still significant 0.1 percent for March. However, the price of a home in SF rose more than five percent within that period.

Now the firm’s most recent San Francisco Bay Area home sales report once again found prices down across the Bay Area, showing a decline of 1.7 percent across in all nine counties, including a four percent depreciation in SF.

Across 637 homes, the SF price (as calculated via MLS sales) declined from $1.38 million this time last year down to $1.32 million now.

Other resources have also shown small but significant dips in SF’s median year over year, but this is the first time Core Logic’s data has agreed. Last time the firm recorded a year over year decline in SF was in April 2017—at the time, a much larger decline of 7.3 percent.

The California Association of Realtors [CAR] released its May data this month. The firm not only corroborates Core Logic’s conclusions but builds on them, showing even bigger price drops at 4.8 percent in SF.

According to CAR, the May price in SF dropped from roughly $1.69 million in 2018 to $1.62 million this year. [Correction: Nope, that’s the other way around: CAR’s SF median increased 4.8 percent year over year. Whereas Core Logic looks at all home sales, CAR only compiles the price of single family homes, so their conclusions diverge.]

The year-over-year drop from CAR for the entire Bay Area was 5.7 percent, ebbing below $1 million down to $990,000.

The problem with these monthly figures is the uncertainty as to which ones are blips and which ones might be part of or the beginning of real trends.

For example, the 7.3 percent SF price drop in April 2017 was big but didn’t last, with median rices soaring for the rest of the that year.

“San Francisco is a relatively small market compared with some of the larger counties, and the median sale price tends to be a bit more volatile,” a Core Logic spokesperson tells Curbed SF.

LA-based Beacon Economics’ regional outlook report for California homes, released this week, compared performances across the entire quarter. Their conclusion: Yes, prices are down in the long term as well:

From the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019, the median price of an existing single-family home in San Francisco decreased by 1.1 percent, or $16,200, to reach $1.43 million. While not a huge dip, it is indicative of greater weakness in price appreciation

[...] Given the Bay Area’s healthy economy, it’s possible that even with all of the wealth being created in the region, the price points for homes have reached a level that households simply cannot afford.

Beacon notes that the number of homes sold also dropped nearly six percent in SF, along with much larger declines of 11.8 percent in the East Bay and 18.2 percent in the South Bay.

Just as one month does not itself a trend make, neither does one quarter. Still, there have been few signs of housing appreciation in 2019 so far—and none of these new figures are rocking the boat.

July 20, 2019

How healthy is the U.S. economy Here’s what 7 key indicators reveal.

The Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif., on June 18. The U.S. economy grew at a solid 3.1 percent clip in the first quarter of the year. However, growth is expected to slacken somewhat in the second quarter. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)  

The U.S. economy is in an odd place. Jobs are plentiful and the stock market is at record levels, but business leaders are worried enough about the future to pull back on spending. President Trump calls this the “greatest economy” ever, yet he’s also demanding the U.S. central bank inject more stimulus into the economy ASAP, something that typically happens only when a lot of yellow and red flags appear. 

The overwhelming consensus among experts is that the U.S. economy is slowing after a pretty hot 2018. But there’s heated debate over how fast it’s cooling. Some argue that by the end of this year the U.S. economy is likely to look and feel a lot as it did in 2016: decent but not great. Others say the nation is likely to slip into a moderate downturn akin to those in 1990 or 2001. (The White House is adamant that there’s no slowing). 

The Washington Post asked top economic forecasters what metrics they are watching closely right now. Many pointed to seven key indicators that have done a decent job signaling recessions in the past: manufacturing purchases (PMI), trucking volumes, heavy truck sales, business capital spending, temporary hires, bank lending conditions (i.e., how easy it is to get a loan) and new claims for unemployment benefits. 

The data reveal a cloudy outlook but only a few signs of a nasty storm. Manufacturing is the biggest red flag, a sector that makes up about 12 percent of the economy. Trucking shipments and business spending are flashing some yellow lights, a reflection that executives are on edge. But hiring and banking lending still look solid — or even strong. 

“The message you hear from Fed Chair [Jerome H.] Powell and about everyone else is, ‘we are waiting for the trend to become clear,’ " said Peter Atwater, president of Financial Insyghts. “The danger is everyone plays catch up at once” if the trend starts to point down. 

The big risk is if corporate anxiety over the trade war, weak growth abroad and the slowing manufacturing sector causes businesses to halt hiring in the United States in coming months, a shift that would probably spook Main Street and cause the almighty American consumer to pull back on spending. But a lot remains unclear. Here’s a rundown of the key metrics. 

The United States and China agreed June 29 during the Group of 20 meeting to restart trade talks and to hold off on imposing new tariffs on Chinese exports. (Reuters)  

1. Manufacturing (red flag) — There has been a sharp deceleration in manufacturing in 2019. Hiring has flatlined after having one of its best years last year since the late 1990s. Output is slowing, and, especially alarming, manufacturing sentiment has tumbled to levels that almost signal a recession. 

Many economists closely watch the Purchasing Managers’ Index, a survey of industry leaders by IHS Markit. When PMI is above 50 the economy is usually expanding. When it falls below 50, the economy is typically contracting. In June, the index fell to 50.1, the worst reading since 2009. The question is whether this weakness will spill over into other sectors or set up a situation similar to that in 2015, when manufacturing contracted but the services sector (technology, finance, hospitality, health care, etc.) remained solid. 

(Heather Long)  

2. Trucking (yellow to red flag) — Nearly every good sold in the United States touches a truck at some point, which is why trucking shipment data can be revealing. After a stellar 2018, shipments have plunged during the past six months, according to the Cass Freight Index. 

“Bottom line, more and more data is indicating that this is the beginning of an economic contraction. If a contraction occurs, then the Cass Shipments Index will have been one of the first early indicators once again,” said Donald Broughton, founder of Broughton Capital and the lead analyst for the Cass Freight Index. 

But many truckers note that it would be tough to continue last year’s levels, so it’s hard to know how much to read into the annual decline. In 2018, companies were enjoying big tax cuts that spurred some extra purchases and trying to move goods before Trump’s tariffs took effect. 

(Heather Long)  

3. Heavy truck sales (green light) — While trucking shipments look gloomy, another way to gauge the health of the trucking industry (and overall economy) is to look at sales of the big 18-wheeler trucks. That data looks a lot better, a seeming indication that the industry is still in a good enough place for companies to want to invest for the future. 

“So far, the data I am looking at does not suggest the economy is slowing,” said Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Portfolios, who likes to watch large truck sales and initial jobless claims. 

But Boris Strbac, owner of Star Trucking in Milwaukee, says a lot of trucking company owners wanted to buy trucks at the end of last year and couldn’t get them until this year because of heavy demand. He expects sales to drop off. “I made a mistake. I bought four trucks not too long ago. I regret that now, believe me,” he said. 

(Heather Long)  

4. Jobless claims (green light) — Hiring has been one of the strongest parts of the economy since 2014. Economists closely watch how many Americans file for unemployment insurance, because that data comes out weekly and is often the first indication of trouble. 

New jobless claims remain low, but there has been a slight uptick recently, reaching a seven-week high on Thursday. Still, most economists say unemployment claims need to reach at least 250,000 a week before there’s concern (the latest data out Thursday showed 227,000 new claims last week). 

(Heather Long)  

5. Temporary hires (green light) — Another way to gauge how eager companies are to hire people is to look at how many temporary employees they bring on. These workers are usually the first to go if there’s any sign of a slowdown, since they are easy to let go and have few ties to the company or management. 

The Labor Department measures temporary hires monthly. So far in 2019, temporary hiring has slowed, compared with last year’s, but it has yet to turn negative. Temp hiring appears to be consistent with the idea that the economy is slowing gradually this year but not nose-diving. 


6. Business spending (yellow flag) — Business leaders are nervous, according to most metrics of sentiment in the corporate sector. But the question is how is that translating into decision-making? This year evidence is growing that companies are pulling back on investment spending. 

Business typically taper their capital spending when they are less certain about the future, making it a closely watched economic gauge. Like temporary hires, business spending has yet to turn negative but it is showing a clear slowing path. 


7. Bank lending (green light) — While many watch the daily gyrations of the stock market, a better gauge of how Wall Street and the broader economy are interacting is what’s happening with bank loans. Economists pay close attention to whether banks are tightening lending standards, a sign of growing concern, or easing them. 

Lately, banks have been easing lending standards, an indication that most banks don’t think a big downturn is imminent. 

Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, says all of these mixed signs about the economy lead him to predict “a decline in domestic growth momentum in the second half of the year,” but he is careful not to say “recession.” 


July 9, 2019

Weekly Market Update

The employment report’s impact 
The markets are still sorting out Friday’s impressive employment report, which lifted treasury yields and mortgage rates off recent lows. The US economy added 224k nonfarm jobs in June versus economists’ estimates of 160k. But despite the positive headline number, the unemployment rate ticked up by a tenth of a percent, and average hourly earnings ticked down by the same increment. 

Rates remain anchored 
While the market’s response had a lot to do with thin liquidity following the 4th of July, rates are still anchored around 2.0% on the 10yr note, as we walked into a 10yr yield of 2.02% this morning – firmly in the middle of the recent trading zone of 1.96% to 2.17%. Though Friday’s employment report shows potential, the rally has always been about trade wars and global economic slowdown. In order for rates to move substantially lower, we’ll likely need the first Fed rate-cut officially on the books.

On the horizon 
This week brings plenty of opportunities to hear from Fed officials about preemptive rate cuts (again, domestic economic data looks good compared to data from the rest of the world) starting with the minutes from the last Fed meeting. On Wednesday, we get the Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s semiannual monetary policy testimony to the House, followed by his address to the Senate on Thursday. The economic calendar is full of Fed-relevant data as well, including: Consumer Price Index, Producer Price Index and Real Avg Hourly Earnings. Right now, the yield on the 10yr note is hanging around 2% at 2.03 and mortgages are up a tick on the day. 

Economic Indicators 
Fed Funds: 2.40% 
1 YR Libor: 2.19% 
30 YR Bond: 2.51% 
10 YR Note Rate: 2.03% 
Dow Jones: 26,788 pts. 
S&P 500: 2,978 pts. 

Whole Sale Trade Sales MoM: 7/10 Prior: -0.4% Survey: 0.3 
FOMC Meeting Minutes: 7/10 
CPI YoY: 7/11 Prior: 1.8% Survey: 1.6% 
Initial Jobless Claims: 7/11 Prior: 221K Survey: 221K 
PPI Final Demand YoY: 7/12 Prior: 1.8 Survey: 221K
March 22, 2019

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale This Spring

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale, your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!
Posted in Sellers
Feb. 21, 2019

3 Reasons Why We Are Not Heading Toward Another Housing Crash

3 Reasons Why We Are Not Heading Toward Another Housing Crash | MyKCM

With home prices softening, some are concerned that we may be headed toward the next housing crash. However, it is important to remember that today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago.

Here are three key metrics that will explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Foreclosure Rates


A decade ago, home prices depreciated dramatically, losing about 29% of their value over a four-year period (2008-2011). Today, prices are not depreciating. The level of appreciation is just decelerating.

Home values are no longer appreciating annually at a rate of 6-7%. However, they have still increased by more than 4% over the last year. Of the 100 experts reached for the latest Home Price Expectation Survey94 said home values would continue to appreciate through 2019. It will just occur at a lower rate.


Many are concerned that lending institutions are again easing standards to a level that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a quarterly index which,

“…measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”

Last month, their January Housing Credit Availability Index revealed:

“Significant space remains to safely expand the credit box. If the current default risk was doubled across all channels, risk would still be well within the pre-crisis standard of 12.5 percent from 2001 to 2003 for the whole mortgage market.”


Within the last decade, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) made up 35% of all home sales. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association revealed just last week that:

“The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 0.95 percent…This was the lowest foreclosure inventory rate since the first quarter of 1996.”

Bottom Line

After using these three key housing metrics to compare today’s market to that of the last decade, we can see that the two markets are nothing alike.

Feb. 12, 2019

How To List Your Home for the Best Price

If your plan for 2019 includes selling your home, you will want to pay attention to where experts believe home values are headed. According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home prices increased by 4.7% over the course of 2018.

The map below shows the results of the latest index by state.

How To List Your Home for the Best Price | MyKCM

Real estate is local. Each state appreciates at different levels. The majority of the country saw at least a 2.0% gain in home values, while some residents in North Dakota and Louisiana may have felt prices slow slightly.

This effect will be short lived. In the same report, CoreLogic forecasts that every state in the Union will experience at least 2.0% appreciation, with the majority of the country gaining at least 4.0%! The prediction for the country comes in at 4.6%. For a median-priced home, that translates to over $14,000 in additional equity next year! (The map below shows the forecast by state.)

How To List Your Home for the Best Price | MyKCM

So, how does this help you list your home for the best price?

Armed with the knowledge of how much experts believe your house will appreciate this year, you will be able to set an appropriate price for your listing from the start. If homes like yours are appreciating at 4.0%, you won’t want to list your home for more than that amount!

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is pricing their homes too high and reducing the price later when they do not get any offers. This can lead buyers to believe that there may be something wrong with the home, when in fact the price was just too high for the market.

Bottom Line

Pricing your home right from the start is one of the most challenging parts of selling your home. Once you decide to list your house, let’s get together to discuss where home values are headed in your area!

Feb. 7, 2019


An unexpected drop in mortgage rates in late 2018 has inspired some homebuyers into action ahead of the busy spring sales season, spurring an early rush of mortgage applications. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was expected to hover above 5 percent in 2019, but instead fell to ten-month lows around 4.46 percent for the week of January 31st.

This drop in mortgage rates caused the Mortgage Banker’s Association January mortgage rate forecast to revise the 30-year fixed mortgage rate down from 5.1percent to an average of 4.8 percent in 2019 — the same average for all of last year. The average rate is expected to stay below 5 percent through 2021.

As rates took a dip, house price appreciation is also expected to soften. According to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Insights Report, home prices jumped 5.1 percent between November 2017 and November 2018. By November of this year, that growth rate should slow to 4.8 percent.

Potential homebuyers who are crossing their fingers and waiting for home prices to fall further may miss the affordability boat if mortgage rates creep up again. A severe shortage in both new construction and existing housing stock means homebuyers won’t see much decline, if any, in home prices in the foreseeable future.

Feb. 5, 2019

One More Time… You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy a Home

One More Time... You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy a Home | MyKCM

The largest obstacle renters face when planning to buy a home is saving for a down payment. This challenge is amplified by rising rents, which has eaten into the amount of money renters have leftover for savings each month after paying expenses.

In combination with higher rents, survey after survey has shown that non-homeowners (renters and those living rent-free with family or friends) believe they need to save upwards of 20% for their down payment!

According to the “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership” study commissioned in partnership between the Urban Institute, Down Payment Resource, and Freddie Mac, 39% of non-homeowners and 30% of those who already own a home believe they need more than a 20% down payment.

The percentage of those who are aware of low down payment programs (those under 5%) is surprisingly low at 12% for non-homeowners and 13% for homeowners.

In a recent Convergys Analytics report, they found that 49% of renters believe they need at least a 20% down payment.

The median down payment on loans approved in 2018 was only 5%!Those waiting until they have over 20% may already have enough saved to buy now!

There are over 45 million millennials (33%) who are mortgage ready right now, meaning their income, debt, and credit scores would all allow them to qualify for a mortgage today!

Bottom Line

If your five-year plan includes buying a home, let’s get together to determine what it will take to make that plan a reality. You may be closer to your dream than you realize!

Posted in Buyers, General News
Jan. 11, 2019

The Cost Across Time

The Cost Across Time [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • With interest rates still around 4.5%, now is a great time to look back at where rates have been over the last 40 years.
  • Rates are projected to climb to 5.0% by this time next year according to Freddie Mac.
  • The impact your interest rate makes on your monthly mortgage cost is significant!
  • Lock in a low rate now while you can!