Looking Back: 2019 Trends in Bay Area House Hunting

2019 was a big year for ZeroDown. This year we turned one. This year, we also launched our homeownership program to customers in the San Francisco Bay area, released a human way to search for homes, and made many families happy. As the year comes to a close, we wanted to share some trends we observed that prospective homeowners or anybody interested in the Bay Area housing market will find interesting.

How people searched for homes

With tens of thousands of homes on sale in every region, finding a home that can be “yours” is no easy task. To make this process easier, we empower our users with a powerful, easy-to-use toolkit, comprising tags, filters, images, schools and a lot more. We looked at how people used ZeroDown Home Search and had some interesting insights into what's most important to Bay Area home shoppers.

Homes that interested the most people

The home that got the most views from our users was this sweet three-bedroom condo in Cathedral Hill area of San Francisco.

San Francisco, CA 94109

This home also happens to be the most favorited home on ZeroDown. The next few most-viewed homes were all shared between San Francisco and Oakland.

Oakland, CA 94609
San Francisco, CA 94110
Oakland, CA 94608

Which cities do people want to live in?

San Francisco was the most popular city our users filtered for - almost four times as popular as the second-placed Oakland. Berkeley, Alameda and San Mateo follow with similar interest from users.

relative popularity of Bay Area cities among home shoppers

What do people want in their home?

We have tagged homes in our search with criteria that people often look for. These are things that people want from their homes, and that go beyond beds, baths, and square footage.

The most popular tag among all others was the “Best of Bay Area” tag, with almost 25% more usage than the next closest. This shows how people want a curated list of homes to look at, to make their search process easier. Other than a curated list, people looked out for homes with “Most Natural Light”, that were “Dog Friendly” and had access to “Convenient Transit”.

most popular tags on ZeroDown

Where are people commuting to?

We let people search for homes within a certain distance of the places they commute to the most, which generally turns out to be their office.

Most of our users searched for homes close to San Francisco, followed by Palo Alto. The third most popular destination, however, turned out to be Googleplex (Hola, Googlers!). These were followed by Mountain View, Oakland and Airbnb HQ.

Housing Market 2019 Review

What homes people are looking for is interesting. What's equally interesting are the homes that changed hands in 2019.

Where were homes available for sale?

In 2019, San Francisco had the biggest chunk of "For Sale" signs in the Bay Area, closely followed by San Jose. The top five cities accounted for over 35% of all homes For Sale in the Bay Area.

While over 12% of all homes for sale were in San Francisco, San Jose had the largest share in homes actually sold, with over 15% of all transactions taking place in the city.

How much did these homes sell for?

Prices in the Bay Area vary a lot. The biggest factor that influences prices is the distance from places like San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Mountain View, where most of the people travel to for work. For homes sold in 2019, the number of dollars paid per square foot was the highest in these areas.

Yes, Belvedere too. People like waterfront homes on hilltops.

The further you go from San Jose and San Francisco, the cheaper it gets. Cheaper by up to 80% of the prices in Palo Alto.

How long did a home stay on the market?

Demand drives urgency, of course. An in-demand home will switch hands faster where there are more buyers. The East Bay region took the lead here, with the median home switching hands in a little over six weeks.

As we go north, this number goes up drastically, with homes taking up to six months before they exchange hands.

Did the sellers get what they asked for?

Most did. Many did not. This correlates highly with how many days a home was on the market before being sold, as can be seen in the chart showing the top and bottom five cities in the region by selling-price to list-price. East Bay sellers again got the maximum over their listing prices, by 10-15%.

Median Sale Price to List Price ratio, and Median Days on Market

In places distant from San Francisco, sellers had to settle for less than what they asked for.

What does the average home sold in 2019 look like?

We took all homes sold in 2019 and calculated the geometric median over the homes’ covered area, sold price, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
We got a 3 bedroom home, with 2 baths, 1640 sqft built-up area, costing $ 957,000. So, this home in San Jose is very hot (and currently available, at the time of posting)

Looking toward 2020!

We're excited to help even more people find their ideal home in the Bay Area (and beyond - stay tuned!) in 2020. We are all about making the home-buying process a bit less stressful and a bit more joyful. Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year. If we're not yet in your area, request ZeroDown in your city!

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Further reading

Hot Pick Home: 'Restful' in the Bay Area - November 23, 2020

Does this home have amenities and is it located in a place that emphasizes peace and quiet?

Hot Pick Home: 'Green' in the Bay Area - November 23, 2020

For a homebuyer who is concerned with reducing their environmental impact, does this home offer amenities, and is it located in a place that can help the buyer achieve those goals?

Hot Pick Home: 'Best Improvements' in the Bay Area - November 23, 2020

Does this home have improvements that significantly increase the comfort and value of the home?