Hot Bay Area Housing Market Begins to Cool

Five of the 10 U.S. housing markets that have cooled fastest this year are in northern California–San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento and Stockton–and three of those five are in the Bay Area. All 10 of the housing markets cooling fastest are in the American West. The cooldown is largely because mortgage rates nearly doubled in the first half of the year, reaching nearly 6% in June. That caused the monthly mortgage payment for a typical homebuyer to surge 45% year over year to $2,459 in June and priced many buyers out of the market.

The cooldown comes after the housing market soared to new heights during the pandemic, largely fueled by record-low mortgage rates and remote work.

“The housing market has changed drastically in the last month because higher rates make homes even more expensive than they used to be. At the same time, fewer people can afford pricey homes because of the volatile stock market,” said San Francisco Redfin agent Joanna Rose. “In the early spring, every home was selling over its asking price with multiple bids. Then the number of people attending open houses dropped from 20 to two, and now some homes are sitting on the market for over a month and selling for under asking price. Supply is starting to pile up.”

Northern California’s housing market is cooling faster than anywhere else in the country

San Jose is cooling at the fastest clip, with measures of homebuyer demand and competition dropping off quicker than any other major metro this year. The supply of homes for sale in San Jose was up 10% year over year in May–but just three months earlier in February, supply was down 43%, indicating that buyers are now gobbling up fewer homes. And the share of homes that went off the market in two weeks was down 5% year over year in May, a big swing from the 22% year-over-year increase in February–that’s an indicator that homes are selling slower.

After San Jose, Sacramento is cooling fastest, followed by Oakland. Stockton, CA, located about 50 miles south of Sacramento, comes in at number five, and San Francisco is number 10.

The Bay Area is cooling quickly due to high mortgage rates, which hit pocketbooks harder in pricey areas, and the slumping stock market, a factor that’s particularly impactful in tech hubs where a lot of residents are compensated with equity. Sky-high home prices are another factor pricing many would-be buyers out of the market. San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco are the most expensive metros in the U.S., with the typical home selling for over $1 million and many selling for well over $1.5 million.

In dollar terms, mortgage rates reaching nearly 6% in the spring had a particularly big impact in pricey areas like Northern California. The typical monthly mortgage payment on a million-dollar home is roughly $5,750 with a 6% interest rate, $1,400 higher than it would be with a 3% interest rate (assuming a 20% down payment). The increase is half as big with a home priced close to the national median: The typical monthly payment on a $450,000 home is about $2,600 with a 6% rate, about $700 higher than with a 3% rate.

“But there is good news for some buyers. People who can afford to buy right now could get something for $100,000 or $200,000 less than a few months ago, largely because homes are often no longer selling above asking price,” Rose continued. “They’ll have a higher monthly payment for now due to the rise in mortgage rates but can refinance later if rates come down.