With all the talk of homeownership this week—Commerce Department reports on Thursday revealed that the national market is a mixed bag, with new U.S. home sales sluggish—it’s time to put a Mission District spin on the statistics.

We combed through listings and data about San Francisco’s housing market, and uncovered listing prices for the city as a whole, and our paradise-by-Mission-Dolores in particular.

What are the median prices for homes in our area? (Do keep in mind “median” is the absolute dead center of the range of listing prices; it’s not an average.) Compared to the median income for households here, can you afford these homes?

Read on, and make sure to also scroll left-and-right within the body of our interactive charts.

Charts via Stunni.ng.

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  1. This is the obvious result of 30 years of NIMBYs blocking construction of new housing. If you want housing to be affordable, you HAVE to back the construction of new housing. In our case, LOTS of it. Now, that may make the city less attractive, perhaps, but the alternative is to leave housing as is, in which case it will simply keep getting more expensive and will only be available to the wealthy.

    you get the choose. there are really only the two options. Do you want affordable housing, or do you want to keep the city as is and increasingly expensive?

    and yes, there is a lot of housing construction happening now — most of which has not yet hit the market, and thus has not had a chance to impact prices. Furthermore, we have such a backlog of demand, we need to sustain this pace, or more, for many years to stabilize prices.

    1. Building housing only makes housing more affordable if the housing being built is affordable. When virtually the entire market consists of expensive condos, housing only gets more expensive.

      Members of the development/banker/realtor/landlord class cynically use the misunderstood and misused theory of supply and demand to push through projects that only exacerbate the lack of affordable housing.

      1. When you make the builders pay for subsidized housing for poor people with every condo they build, how could they not be ridiculously expensive?

        1. The price of housing has nothing to do with the costs of producing housing. Housing price is determined by the maximum that the market will bear. Developers will not commence a project unless they have evidence that the price they can sell if for is more than the costs of construction. But things can and do change during construction time and many a developer has been wiped out as the market crashed before they were able to bring their units to market. Lowering the cost of production has no impact on price.

          1. Variations in cost may not always be reflected 100% in the price to the consumer in individual cases.

            But over an entire market they most definitely are, because businesses cannot endure if they consistently make a loss. The idea that businesses are somehow impervious and indifferent to cost is simply ridiculous.

            What happens in practice is that if the costs are increased and it is not possible to simply pass that onto the consumer, then less projects become viable.

            And if less projects get built, then supply goes down while demand remains the same, meaning that the price goes up at the margin.

            And that is exactly what happens with SF housing. It’s expensive to build here with all the NIMBY zoning restrictions, extortionate fees and set-asides, taxes and the rest. So far fewer new homes get built than we need. And so the price just goes up and up. Great for developers; not so great for homebuyers and renters.

            There ain’t no free lunch. Never is’ never was.

          2. The capitalist system produces winners as well as losers, that is part of the game. The market knows no mercy, either you make your money back or you go broke, the costs to a developer are as much a factor in the price a unit fetches as the income of any given prospective resident is.

      2. New supply will always make homes MORE affordable than they otherwise would have been. The problem is more that we are not allowed to build enough new homes to cause the market price to fall by enough to create a balance in the supply/demand ratio.

        That’s great for developers, who get better margins. It’s good for existing property owners. And it’s good for NIMBY’s, for reasons known only to them.

        If we could build 100,000 market-rate homes tomorrow, then that market rate would fall to something that is more affordable. That much is obvious. The problem, of course, is that the people who claim housing should be more affordable are the same people who are saying they don’t want residential towers all over the city.

        But there is no way around a much more fundamental fact, and that is that things that are desirable cost more than things that are not, meaning that not everyone can afford what is desirable, inevitably.

        The good news for those who cannot afford SF is that there are many other towns just a few miles away that are much more affordable, and not everyone with a job in SF needs to live in SF.

        Maybe those 100,000 more affordable homes should be built ten minutes away in West Oakland?

        1. Nah, we’ll stay, and keep our rent control. Besides, who else will protect SF from the runaway development you prescribe?

  2. Yes, we need to build more high-quality, market rate housing– it’s the only way to bring down prices. So-called “affordable” housing creates cheaply built slums, housing projects, SROs, etc. We have too much of that already.

    1. Why does affordable housing have to be low quality?

      Why is the current development focus on 1000+ sq ft 1brs?

      1. They are not built as low quality. In fact they must comply with all current building codes. And that’s part of the problem in that it is no cheaper to build an “affordable” home than a market-rate home.

        So an affordable home isn’t cheap. It is just sold cheap and the difference has to come from somebody else. depending on your politics, that is either the government, the develop, the other buyers or some combination of all of them.

        I see three choices to create more affordable homes:

        1) Build more homes and let the market drive the price down. In particular build more high-rise homes because those are the cheapest to build on a per-unit basis AND give you the highest densities.

        2) Build crappier, smaller homes just so they are cheaper.

        3) Ask the voters if they’d like to pay higher taxes to increase subsidies to offset high land and building costs.

        There ain’t no free lunch out there.

  3. SF has a population of 800,000 people – not 8 million! haha…………. 8 million is the rounded up population for the BAY AREA.

  4. When every market rate development has to subside below market rate housing it will always be extra expensive.

  5. Interesting that the article picks the Mission Dolores area to come up with the home prices. Mission Dolores is more Now Valley than the Mission. Is this to inflate prices to make their point seem more valid? Why not choose an area near 22nd and Florida as that is more central to the Mission neighborhood.

    P.S. Build 50 story apartment complexes in the excelsior district. This will bring down the cost of housing and create a vibrant new area in the city.

    1. The leafy western parts of the Mission are the most desirable. But there are other pockets of affluence throughout the Mission, usually congregating around new housing developments such as the live/work loft projects built in the 1990’s, and a slate of new condo projects whose price-per-square-foot routinely hits or exceeds $1,000.

      Bryant from 16th to 20th is very “des res” although that falls off rapidly as you move south of 20th. The Valencia Street golden corridor is the engine of Mission affluence and there are pockets elsewhere.

      Then you can stroll down much of 23rd Street and it looks much as it would have done twenty years ago.

      Re your 50-story tower idea, I think that is really the only way we can maintain the supply/demand balance, if we build them on a bold scale.

      But we can only zone such buildings on the northern and eastern sides of the city. The south and west parts of the city are not suited to such high densities, and lack the infrastructural support. In any event, if we are serious about diversity, we should want to keep the south-west with its delightful suburban feel as an antidote to the gritty urbanity of the eastern neighborhoods.

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