Millennial Homebuyer Activity Climbs to Record High

  • For the fifth straight year, millennials are the most active U.S. homebuyers, accounting for 36 percent of sales.
  • More than half of millennials bought a home in a suburban community, and 85 percent opted for a single-family structure.
  • Nearly half of millennials carry student loans, with a median debt of $27,000.

Millennials remain the most active U.S. homebuyers, though tight inventory conditions, strong price growth, student debt, and higher costs of living remain challenges to ownership for that generation.

The National Association of Realtors’ annual 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trendsstudy says that millennials accounted for 36 percent of purchases over the past year, a slight uptick from the previous survey and an all-time high. Defined as Americans under the age of 37, millennials have been the most active group of U.S. homebuyers for five straight years.

Millennial homebuyer activity in Bay Area job centers mirrors the national trend. According to a February analysis of Pacific Union data by Chief Economist Selma Hepp, buyers under the age of 35 accounted for 37 percent of transactions in San Francisco between August 2017 and January 2018, while millennials were responsible for 35 percent of purchases in Silicon Valley.

As millennials increasingly start families, they are gravitating toward more affordable suburban communities, which allow them to purchase larger homes. Fifty-two percent of millennials chose a home in the suburbs, and 85 percent of them bought single-family homes. Only 15 percent of millennials bought homes in urban areas, while an even smaller number (2 percent) opted for a condominium.

“While there is an overall trend among households young and old to migrate towards urban areas, the very low production of new condos means there are few affordable options for buyers – especially millennials,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.

Besides a lack of affordable starter homes, millennials must grapple with rising home prices and student-loan debt. NAR found that almost half of millennials are paying off student debt and carrying a median amount of $27,000. About one-quarter of Americans under the age of 37 said that saving for a down payment was the most difficult part of the homebuying process, and of those, 53 percent said that student loans delayed the savings process.

Millennials also face higher living costs than the generation before them, while wage growth for the demographic has been stagnant. According to a Freddie Mac analysis, between 2000 and 2016, young Americans’ expenditures increased by 36 percent. During that time period, home prices grew by 29 percent, while millennial per-capita incomes inched up by 1 percent.

A final finding from NAR’s report: When millennials are ready to purchase a home, 90 percent of them employ the services of a real estate professional, with help understanding the process cited as the primary benefit.

Risk of Bubble for California, Bay Area Housing Markets Is Minimal, Report Says

  • Analysts at Arch MI do not believe that home prices are overvalued, nor do they foresee a looming bubble.
  • The chances of home prices declining in California over the next two years is 3 percent, making it a minimal-risk market.
  • All 12 California metropolitan areas that the report tracks have minimal risk of price depreciation by the end of the decade.

Although home prices should continue to increase for the rest of the decade, a bubble does not appear imminent nationwide, in California, or in the Bay Area.

That’s according to Arch MI’s latest Housing and Mortgage Market Review report, in which company analysts wrote “Home prices in the U.S. currently do not appear to be overvalued based on the historical relationship between home prices and incomes.” Before the housing crisis, U.S. home prices were 22 percent overvalued, then fell to levels that were 12 percent undervalued in 2012. Currently, Arch MI estimates that home prices are now 10 percent to 15 percent undervalued because of mortgage rates that remain near record lows.

The company does not foresee a housing bubble on the horizon across the U.S. or most cities. Warning signs of a housing-market bust — including too much buyer debt, inferior-quality loans, and overly rapid price appreciation — do not currently exist. The forecast echoes findings from a Freddie Mac report published last fall that also downplayed the possibility of another bubble.

Using data from the third quarter of last year, Arch MI’s Risk Index puts only three states at moderate risk for price deprecation by the end of 2019: Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. California is one of 41 states that the company’s metric rates as minimal risk, with just a 3 percent chance of prices falling over the next two years. Golden State home prices increased by 7.9 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2017.

All 12 twelve California metropolitan areas for which Arch MI estimates risk are rated as minimal. The chances of price deceleration in San Jose, Oakland, and Los Angeles is 2 percent, while the likelihood of a decline in San Francisco is 3 percent. Year over year, third-quarter home prices grew by 8.5 percent in Oakland and Los Angeles, 6.8 percent in San Jose, and 6.4 percent in San Francisco.

Nationwide, the company expects home price appreciation of 2 percent to 6 percent over the next couple of years due to buyer demand that will continue to exceed tight supply conditions. Strong job growth and the aforementioned low mortgage rates should also fuel price gains.

Other housing predictions found in Arch MI’s report: the recent tax changes will impact high-priced markets like California the most; affordability will continue to deteriorate due to rising interest rates and home prices; and fewer homeowners will decide to move.

California Added Jobs at The Fastest Rate in 2017

California Added Jobs at The Fastest Rate in 2017
  • Job reports for both California and the U.S. show strong growth so far in 2018.
  • According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, America added 313,000 jobs in February, the strongest monthly gain since July 2016. Over the last three months, there were an average of 242,000 jobs added per month, and the annual total reached 2.281 million in February. Some experts warn that mild February weather could have helped boost employment and that the country’s labor market will see a pullback in March.
  • Job gains were broad-based across many sectors, including professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, trade and transportation, and education and health services. The

Bay Area Luxury Home Sales Doubled in February

Bay Area Luxury Home Sales Doubled in February

Executive Summary:

  • Sales of Bay Area homes priced above $3 million doubled in February, with most local regions posting large gains.
  • Sales of homes priced higher than $1 million also continued to grow.
  • Regionally, East Bay sales slowed, while Silicon Valley and the Wine Country saw more sales this February.
  • The Bay Area median price jumped another 16 percent year over year, though high-end sales drove a large part of the increase.
  • Buyer demand is not abating amid market challenges. Seven in 10 Bay Area homes sold for more than asking price, with the average premium increasing to 12 percent, up from 8 percent premiums observed in the last two Februarys.
  • Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages reached 4.46 percent as of March 8, 2018 according to a Freddie Mac survey, the highest since the spring of 2014.

Bay Area Companies Dominate List of 2018’s Best Tech Workplaces

Bay Area Companies Dominate List of 2018’s Best Tech Workplaces


  • Nearly 75 percent of the best tech companies to work for in 2018 are headquartered in the Bay Area.
  • San Francisco-based tops the list after also ranking No. 1 on a list of 2017’s best overall workplaces.
  • Adobe, Facebook, and Google also rank in the top five for best tech work environments.

Bay Area tech heavyweights not only create innovative products that change the world, they also provide their employees with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

That’s according to job portal Indeed’s list of the 15 top tech companies to work for in 2018, based on nearly 18 million employer reviews on its website. Perhaps not surprisingly, 11 of those tech firms are headquartered in the Bay Area — the vast majority in Silicon Valley.

Real Estate Roundup: Silicon Valley Home Prices Soar in the Fourth Quarter

Real Estate Roundup: Silicon Valley Home Prices Soar in the Fourth Quarter

More than 90 percent of U.S. housing markets saw annual price growth in the fourth quarter, with the San Jose metropolitan area leading the country for appreciation.

That’s according to the National Association of Realtors’ latest quarterly report, which puts the median sales price for an existing U.S. single-family home at $247,800 in the fourth quarter, up 5.3 percent on an annual basis. Prices rose year over year in 92 percent of measured markets, and 64 percent reached new all-time highs in the fourth quarter.

Silicon Valley Earns High Marks for Education in 2018

Silicon Valley Earns High Marks for Education in 2018

While high-paying and plentiful tech jobs are fueling buyer demand for Silicon Valley homes, the fact that the region’s public schools consistently rank among the best in the state is also a big draw for families.

That’s according to’s annual rankings of the best public-school districts in California. The company gauges school quality using 10 criteria — including academics, teachers, extracurricular activities, and sports  — then assigns each school district a grade. also factors in parent and student reviews on its website when ranking school districts.

As in last year’s rankings, three Silicon Valley school districts are at the head of the class, all receiving overall A-plus grades. 

Bay Area Claims Four of the Five Priciest U.S. Real Estate Markets in 2017

Bay Area Claims Four of the Five Priciest U.S. Real Estate Markets in 2017

In what will come as little surprise to anyone who regularly follows Bay Area real estate, four local communities rank among the most expensive real estate markets in the country this year.

That’s according to Forbes’ annual list of America’s most expensive ZIP codes, which uses a 90-day rolling average for the period ended Oct. 27 and includes both single-family homes and condominiums. Atherton‘s 94027 is once again the nation’s most expensive place in the U.S. to buy a home, with a median sales price of $9,686,154. The San Mateo County city had held that title for several years running before losing it to Manalapan, Florida last year, which took the No. 2 spot on this year’s list.

Why Do Bay Area Homeowners Sell, and Where Do They Move?

Why Do Bay Area Homeowners Sell, and Where Do They Move?

A lack of homes for sale is the Achilles’ heel of Bay Area housing markets. Industry experts and economists have consistently discussed falling inventory levels since 2012, when most of the region’s distressed inventory was absorbed. Since then, inventory levels, while fluctuating, have been on an almost constant decline. Over the last year, the monthly year-over-year supply decrease averaged 7 percent in the Bay Area. More importantly, affordable homes are disappearing at double that rate.

Luxury Segment Heats Up Bay Area Housing Markets

Luxury Segment Heats Up Bay Area Housing Markets

The first half of the year ended on a strong note for Bay Area housing markets, with 2 percent more sales in the first six months of the year when compared with last year. The East Bay saw the largest increase in sales activity, up 4 percent, while San Francisco followed with a 3 percent increase. San Francisco’s improving housing market conditions are particularly encouraging given the lull that the city faced last year.

Sizing Up the Competition: How Many Offers Are You Betting Against?

Sizing Up the Competition: How Many Offers Are You Betting Against?

Pacific Union’s recent second-quarter real estate reports showed that Bay Area housing markets are sizzling again, and buyers are facing tough competition. Overall in the Bay Area, 6 in 10 homes sold over the asking price in the second quarter, while in Alameda and San Mateo counties, almost 8 in 10 homes sold over the asking price. Naturally, some price ranges were in greater demand than others. For example, in the East Bay, competition increased for homes priced up to $2 million but cooled off for higher-priced homes.

Changing of the Tide?

Palo Alto has always been fashion-forward when it comes to real estate trends. Having worked in residential real estate in this area for 8 years, I have found that the Palo Alto housing market serves as a compass when it comes to trying to predict the next real estate pattern. Over time the neighboring cities, Menlo Park, Los Altos, Redwood City and San Carlos, will often mirror the market ebbs and flows experienced in Palo Alto.