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In San Francisco, tech economy leads bounce

Fog-ust in San Francisco: Clear Sailing for Real Estate

After a five-day holiday in The City during, yes, a gloomy ‘Fog-ust’, I came away deliriously stoked about all of the things San Francisco offers that, well, Vancouver does not.

Like surfing in the Pacific at Ocean Beach. Watching major league baseball. Reading (on an iPad, natch) about how the tech-fuelled economy is burping out thousands of high-paying jobs every month—43,000 new jobs since the beginning of 2012.

And witnessing a real estate boom that makes it seem like 1999—the height of the tech bubble. Or, maybe it’s like 2007—when the median house price was $850,000. One thing’s for sure—it’s not 2009, when the home price plummeted to—wait for it—$400,000, and unemployment was into the double-digits. What if the typical Vancouver house lost half its value in three years? (Well, people like Garth Turner believe it might).

But that’s San Francisco. The city’s fortunes have been tied to myriad booms and busts—you’re either euphoric or you’re climbing over the railing of the Golden Gate and peering over to the dark side. Alas, generally Californians are a forward looking lot—it is nicknamed The Golden State, after all.

Since my visit, things have only improved—even the weather, according to SanFranciscoModern realtor Jonathon Gilkeson.

“Haha, the fog is gone, now. September and October are the best months to be here, we’ve had sunshine for past three weeks.” Realtors even blog about the weather down there.

Indeed,the market has caught fire like tinder dry brush in the Sierra Nevada forest. Median home prices have edged up to over $630,000 and that will only buy you about 800 square feet in a building that survived the Great Quake of 1906. Single family homes are generally on small lots, and though there are few high rises, the housing stock is primarily walk-up style apartments.

Gilkeson continues: “Pretty much every sale is going over asking price; sometimes getting buyers into a bidding war that only drives prices higher. Inventory is really a challenge right now—we just don’t have enough listings.” Well, doesn’t that sound like a city by the bay that we once knew and loved?

Heck, they’re even playing professional hockey in San Francisco. The refurbished 10,500 seat Cow Palace is home ice for the San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL, a bush league that has had a franchise in pretty much every city over 20,000 in the past 20 years.

Hey, maybe that’s it. Perhaps Vancouver real estate sales will pick once the NHL strike is over.

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