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Foreclosures crush San Francisco – or are they?

by sfishome on February 1, 2011

Leave it to mainstream media like the San Francisco Chronicle to make it sound like the sky is falling.  Yesterday’s article with a couple of anecdotes about a Pacific Heights and a Telegraph Hill foreclosure, and apparently that means foreclosures are “spreading throughout the City”.  

Meanwhile the first month of January seems “hot” or as one agent said it has a “buzz” with buyers out in force.

Where I think the article fans imaginary flames include:

Socketsite’s author pointing out that in 2008 58% of San Francisco’s foreclosures were in the poorer southern neighborhoods like Bayview and Hunters Point.  Now they “only” represent 39%. 

Woop-de-doo.  My guess is the “surrounding areas” didn’t include SOMA/South Beach.  There is a ton of foreclosure activity there – a recent stat I heard was 22 delinquent owners at the Palms (555 4th St).  That one building has about as much foreclosure activity as the ENTIRE north end of town where foreclosures are “spreading”.

The Chronicle does point out San Francisco has 0.52% or about 1/4 the foreclosure activity as areas like Contra Costa County, but again, with most of that NOT in the northern neighborhoods like Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, Russian Hill, the Marina and so on, foreclosure rates are probably 1/20th or 1/100th what they are elsewhere.  Yes I’m making up stats – but if I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.  I promise to post your stats, and if I have time I’ll do some digging (here’s one stat – I count 26 properties in some stage of foreclosure since Sept 1, 2010 in the zip codes that include Pac Heights, Russian Hill, Marina, Cow Hollow, North Beach, Telegraph Hill and a few others – quite a few of these are on the major thoroughfare streets like Bush, Pine, Franklin, Lombard and Van Ness – that is hardly a wild fire).

They also cite San Francisco prices down 18% since the peak.  Again – with southern areas down 40% to 50% that means elsewhere (read north end of town and other high-end neighborhoods) are down less than 18%.

I’m not arguing that foreclosures haven’t creeped into northern neighborhoods, but the Chronicle makes a a couple of grains of sand on the beach sound like a sand storm.  Meanwhile, “feet on the street” experience is pointing to a LOT of activity starting to happen.  So as usual, once the mainstream reports it, look out, the opposite may have already started.

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