While long-term increases in San Francisco Bay Area real estate prices have occurred, the returns have been inconsistent. And what may be to many investors' surprise, the end of each of the last 3 economic expansions have resulted in zero price increases for the next 7 to 11 years for SF Bay real estate.

For example, from March 1990, it took over 7 years for Bay Area real estate prices to recover in Oct 1997. From Feb 2001, it took over 11 years for prices to recover in May 2012. From March 2006 peak, prices did not recover for over 9 years, in Nov 2015. These 7 to 11-year lack of price increases have begun at the end of economic expansions, just before or during a recession, after a recent large increase in prices. These long periods of zero returns that can occur at the late stage of an expansionary economic cycle do not typically represent a good risk/reward profile for long-term investors, unless there is a clear plan to add value to the property. 

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California real estate prices have a strong correlation with the economic cycle and changes in employment. Towards the end of an expansionary economic cycle, real estate price appreciation begins to decelerate in major California cities. San Francisco Bay real estate prices have declined in each of the last 3 recessions, to varying degrees.