February 16, 2007

How the Bay Area caused home prices to go up nationally…

If you ask ask most people in the Bay Area “Why did homes get so expensive in the last few years?” you’ll probably here these reasons:

  1. It’s not a bubble: They’re not making any more land. It’s special here. (Who knew that land suddenly decreased?)
  2. It’s not a bubble: Weather. It’s special here. (Who knew that the weather suddenly got so much better?)
  3. It’s not a bubble: Everyone wants to live here. It’s special here. (But why so much so in the last few years?)
  4. It’s not a bubble: Web 2.0, Google, The Valley is BACK! Oh, and it’s special here.

The last one is distinctly possible. Google IPOed in 2004, instantly creating thousands of millionaires/billionaires. The job market has picked back up. Traffic is back with a vengeance.

Ok, so maybe that explains these two graphs:



The data for these graphs are from this Wells Fargo site – for some reason they don’t include data for the year 2002.

  • The red line is the median income, and as you can see it’s pretty high around here.
  • The green line is the median home price, and as you can see it’s pretty high around here.
  • The blue line is the price/income ratio: median home price divided by the median income – multiplied by 100 so that it shows up on this chart. (Otherwise, it’d be like 3.)
  • The purple line is what I think the home price should have been, using a trailing average of price/income ratio multiplied by the income.

Ok, with that said, let’s look at the graphs above. Right now, the price/income ratio in San Francisco is about 8.32 and in San Jose it is 6.75.

But why now? In San Jose, it used to be about 4x. Why the dramatic spike in 2004?

This is when most people would say “Duh! It’s because the job market picked up in the Bay Area! Have you tried hiring someone?” and “Gooooooooooooogle!”

That’s sort of true… but how does that explain this?


That’s right – Los Angeles had a spike around the same time. So… maybe LA also became a lot more desirable and employed at the same time the Bay Area did. That’s stretching it… but maybe that’s what happened. They also have tech jobs there too…

But wait…


Why look at that… Las Vegas has the same sudden bump as San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles. Ok ok… Las Vegas is really a suburb of Los Angeles, and so maybe the job market in San Jose was so strong that it carried through all the way to Las Vegas.

But wait…



Seattle isn’t near SF/SJ/LA/LV – but yet they have the same bump there too. Oh right… forgot… tech job market. Strong. So strong in the Bay Area that it made prices in Seattle go up too. And thus Portland too.

But wait…


Huh? Boston has the same sudden spike too! Oh right… tech jobs again! Ok ok… so the job market in the Bay Area was so strong, it made prices in LA (and its suburb, LV) go up, and also Seattle and Boston too. We’ll ignore the fact that the red-lines for all of these places show little-to-no increase. But yeah… the Bay Area became so desirable that the Bay State went up too.

But wait…


Chicago too! They have a bump then too! That’s because… um… the Bay Area job market…. and…. um… oh right! Motorola introduced the Razor, and Motorola is located near Chicago. That’s why prices suddenly spiked up there. (We’ll ignore the fact that incomes sort of went down during that time…)

But wait…



Washington DC and Baltimore have the bump too! Well, DC does include Northern Virginia (NoVA) which is kind of techy – so their bump is because of Silicon Valley’s specialness. Baltimore… uh… well… The Wire was pretty good those years so maybe that was just a fluke.

But wait…


New York City metro has the same spike too. Um… that’s because… um… Google! Yeah! Google got into ads, which drove… um… down… ad sales in NY…. which… um…. drove up housing prices. Perfect. Check. Strong Job Market in the Bay Area. Got it!!

So there you have it!

Home prices in the Bay Area surged in the last few years because of the strong job market and the increased desirability and suddenly shrinking amount of land. The tech recovery was so strong that it streamed out and caused a spike in home prices in second-tier cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, DC – which in turn caused prices to go up in their suburbs of Las Vegas, Portland, and Baltimore to have the same spike.

The job market was so strong, that incomes somehow managed to stay flat while housing prices soared. Again, this is not due to a bubble, but because the job market was strong. Ignore the income lines. Only focus on the price lines.

Make sense? It’s 2.0! The paradigm has shifted! These are the new economics! The Bay Area is special!

For amusement’s sake, let me put forth an alternative theory: prices in the Bay Area surged just like they did in so many other cities across the nation, because of a boom in easy credit and low interest rates – not because it suddenly became so desirable. Possible? 🙂
Have a good weekend!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:27 am

February 15, 2007

South Bay is #1 – again!!!

Home prices post record drop; most widespread decline – Feb. 15, 2007
The most expensive market in the latest report was San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., where the median home price $760,000. That was up $20,000, or 2.7 percent from a year earlier, but down $19,000, or 2.4 percent, from the third quarter and off $35,000, or 4.4 percent, from the second-quarter peak.

Sweet! We’re #1 again!!! Congratulations everyone! Let’s make sure we can maintain this lead!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 1:06 pm

Mortgage is only 47%, 50%, or 54% of your income

cbs5.com – Bay Area’s Population Shifts As Many Leave Calif.
Christen Davis just opened a flower stand in downtown Oakland as a last-ditch effort to stay here in the Bay Area. She’s thinking about leaving.”I was just talking to my boyfriend this morning about it, because he has good friends who just moved to Idaho because it’s much cheaper, and they started a family and wanted to get a business started,” Davis said. “It’s like there’s no middle class here.”

Is there any turth to what Christen is saying? Let’s take a look at these stats from Housing Tracker – I’ve sorted it by “Mortgage as a percentage of income”:


Christen, look dear. Oakland, where you live isn’t even #1 in the list of “Mortgage as a percentage of income” – that’s New York. Now, granted that Manhattan isn’t as special as Oakland but look – it’s only 54% of your income.

That leaves a generous 46% left for property taxes, car taxes, income taxes, groceries, gas, private school, and more!

At the end of the day: what’s more important? being selfish and starting a family? or buying a place and paying for the retirement of those who bought before 1978? Have you no respect for our seniors?

You know what Christen? Maybe it’s best you move to somewhere unspecial like Idaho. I hear they’re making plenty of land there. Go buy something there – see how you live without 580, 880, and 980!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am

February 14, 2007

1.8million: "Easy access to Adult Video Store"

Burbed Reader Nick had this fantastic find recently at 1098 W El Camino Real in Mountain View:


Ok… so what’s across the street:


Here’s what Nick had to say:

I thought you might be amused by this house that I pass every day on the way to work. For only $1.8M you can be the proud owner of this very ordinary-looking single-family home at 1098 W El Camino Real in Mountain View. That’s right, it’s directly on the busiest road in the area so you get to listen to traffic and sirens all day and night. But to make up for that minor annoyance, it is very conviently located and close to shopping: you’ve got an “adult” video store directly across the street. (Sorry about the crappy camera phone pictures.) That sign in the video store window says “Help Wanted”, so it should be easy for the buyer to get a part-time job to help pay the mortgage.


What do you think? Could this be the perfect starter home for my wife and I to raise a family? 🙂

Well Nick, I’m not familiar with your family – but perhaps if you and your wife are open minded, this might be a great property for you! Your kids could set up a basketball hoop on El Camino, and when they get older, they can get a job across the street to help you pay your mortgage. Even if you and your wife are prudes, they could work at what appears to be a car repair store next door.

Great find!

BTW, did you remember to buy your wife a Valentine’s Day present? Because if not, I know a place you could go to on El Camino Real…

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:12 am

February 13, 2007

Bubble War! Long Island versus Bay Area!

The other day, LIBubble posted this comment on this blog:

Nice Try Long Island – 2% affordability means nothing! — Burbed.com: Your Silicon Valley Home and Mortgage Insanity Blog
What are we having some kind of a bubble war here? I’m not going to compare LI housing to Cali, they are both overpriced markets. Cali has its super high house prices, but it also has higher incomes; Long Island has the highest taxes and the salaries aren’t that great. Most people that have high income here have to commute to/from the city!

Whoa there! Is the claim that the bubble in Long Island is better/more special than the bubble here?

Let’s do a match up between Money’s data for Mountain View, in super special Silicon Valley, and North Hempstead, in not super special Long Island:

mountainview.png northhempstead.png

So what do we see:

  • Mountain View has a median income that is 16.7% less than North Hempstead
  • But yet house prices are 3.4% more. 

Sorry LIBubble – your theory is wrong. People earn less and pay more here for housing.
Here are some other facts:

  • Mountain View’s schools are slightly better (but that’s unique to Mountain View – look at neighboring Sunnyvale and San Jose)
  • Mountain View does have a shorter commute because that’s where all the jobs are.
  • Wow… look at the delta of Libraries and Museums! Adjusted for population, North Hempstead has 73% more museums (Though that’s due to the Manhattan factor).
  • I was really surprised to see that North Hempstead has 29 ski resources within 100 miles.
  • But the killer is the weather. Look at how awesome the weather is here.

And that’s why housing prices can only go up here in the Bay Area.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:40 am

Most commented post ever

Wow… if you missed this post yesterday, go click on it to read it.

Grow up in the Bay Area? Do you agree?

Do you agree with this?

Let’s talk about the fantastic geography of the Bay Area that allows you to snowboard in Tahoe one day, sail in the Bay the next, and mountain bike in 65 deg weather the following day.

Do you agree with this?

Still – the way BA people work at these tech companies (public or not), you think they get to screw more virgins in their afterlife if they get another 3 hours a work in… per day. (Or insert afterlife pleasure here.)

Do you agree with this?

Bottom line – the BA is best for single people who don’t have anything better to do than to work their 20-something lives away. Any place worth going to on the weekends is crowded as hell. So what’s the lure of the BA again? Bad drivers? Fry’s? Crappy and overpriced houses? Crappy schools? Cheap food (in certain areas)? Mr. Chau’s? Okay – nix that last one..

(Which reminds me of this Onion piece)

Agree? Don’t agree? Click here to post your thoughts!

Comments Off on Most commented post ever Posted by: burbed @ 4:55 am

February 12, 2007


Thanks to Burbed Reader Steve for submitting this:



You just know that if a Realtor(R) had submitted this, it would’ve said: PERFECT STARTER HOME FOR YOUNG FAMILIES IN SCOTTS VALLEY!

Here’s what Steve had to say:

I see the electricity is all hooked up-ready to move in!! Great starter home!


Thanks Steve!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:22 am

"This is the Bay Area. It will always be a place where people want to live."

Inside Bay Area – Slowdown in Bay Area home sales little threat to most, experts advise
“People like me and my friends, whose property figures into their retirement plans and net worth, don’t care if there is seven months of inventory on the real estate market. We say, ‘Is the value of my property going down?’ And I don’t see that it is,” said Berkeley homeowner Robert Marsh.

“Even if it goes down for several years, it will go up in the long term,” Marsh said.

Janet Fouts bought her house two years ago “and gained enough in the house not to be too worried about the changing market,” the San Jose resident said. “I think it’s just an overall adjustment, not a downhill trend. This is the Bay Area. It will always be a place where people want to live.”

Janet Fouts – you are my hero.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 4:44 am

February 11, 2007

Grow up in the Bay Area? Do you agree?

A Burbed reader posted this comment the other day:

$949,000 – mi 1092sqft casa is su casa — Burbed.com: Your Silicon Valley Home and Mortgage Insanity Blog
# Norcalboomer Says:
February 8th, 2007 at 9:51 pm e

I grew up in the Bay Area. It sure WAS special. Now it looks like a third world country, and has the services to boot! Thank god my kids did not attend Bay Area Public Schools. In the 50’s and 60’s they were some of the best in the nation, now they are no better than a glorified baby sitting service. How do I know? ALL of my relatives who live in the Bay Area and care about education send their children to PRIVATE schools. Except for the weather and beautiful scenery the Bay Area is a ” has been” locale.


Did you grow up in the Bay Area? Do you agree with this assessment?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am

February 10, 2007

What's Below Market Rate (BMR)income limit in San Francisco?

MLS SFAR Reports (513)
Junior One BD Below Market Rate subject to income verification by the Mayor’s Office of Housing. This unit is to be sold to a household not earning more than: One Person – $95,775. Two Persons – $109,425. Three Persons – 123,150. Buyer’s must be 1st time homebuyers or have lived in their current home for over 3 years. Deadline for submission is Feb. 15 at 4pm. Lottery will be held on Feb. 16.

Therefore, prices will never drop below $600,000.

If you don’t make more than $95,775 – San Francisco doesn’t need you.

In fact, the Bay Area doesn’t need you.

We only need people like Shannon Hermes – a millionaire receptionist.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:30 am