The Bay Area’s cooling housing market got a bit of good news Thursday: Some parts of the market are already getting a lift from the anticipated wealth generated by IPOs in Uber, Lyft, Pinterest and other companies.
“The IPO is a golden opportunity for early employees to convert equity into cold, hard cash — or a roof over their heads,” said Zillow economist Jeff Tucker, who likens this year’s series of prominent IPOs to a “breaking dam.”
Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) found that Facebook’s 2012 IPO helped boost home appreciation by almost $30,000 in areas with a lot of Facebook employees.
While Facebook’s (NASDAQ: FB) IPO was certainly a big event, the payoff from this latest round of IPOs feels broader based. The long-awaited payday for employees and investors through the IPOs of these Bay Area growth companies is boosting demand for luxury homes priced above $3 million — and often well above $3 million.
Many reaping big gains in IPOs face lock-up periods before they can sell their shares, but buyers may not be waiting for the newly rich to enter the market.
“I believe expectations of the influx of IPO buyers later this year and potentially higher home prices as a result are driving buyers to get ahead of the game,” Selma Hepp, chief economist at Compass, told the San Francisco Business Times. “Also, some real estate investors may be seeing future IPO activity as a reason to buy now as well.”
IPO expectations are already showing up in home sales activity, particularly in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, according to real estate brokerage firm Compass in San Francisco. Compass noted that the housing markets in Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties, as well as the Wine Country, remain slower compared to a year ago.
“The higher priced market, above $3 million, bounced back to a 5 percent annual increase after significant declines in the previous six months,” Hepp said. “The jump is mostly due to the tri-region of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin, where sales accelerated compared to last year.”
The latest Bay Area housing market analysis also shows buyer demand picking up in the form of homes going into contract up 9 percent year-over-year, the biggest increase since the summer of 2017, Hepp said.
But so far this year’s housing market isn’t rebounding as some might have hoped from the stock market turmoil and rising interest rates of late last year.
“Median home sales prices have returned to highs close to those in spring 2018, but, so far, last year’s peaks have not been exceeded. This is a big change from the year-over-year appreciation rates of the past six to seven years,” said Patrick Carlisle, chief market strategist for the Bay Area at Compass.
How bad is it?
Zillow this month said the housing market is easing from its frenetic pace of recent years.
“In the San Francisco market, home values are growing at a slower pace, down from near double-digit growth just last year,” Zillow said. “Over the past year, the market has become more buyer-friendly as homes are staying on the market about a week longer and the number of homes with a price cut is 66 percent higher than a year ago.”
Housing inventory in the San Francisco market is up nearly 25 percent, fueled by homes staying on the market longer — not new listings, said Zillow, which said the typical home in the San Francisco market is worth $949,500, up 2 percent from a year ago. The San Francisco market consists of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.
In the San Jose market, the typical home is worth $1.2 million, down 0.2 percent from a year ago. That’s in sharp contrast to San Jose-area home values that were growing less than a year ago at nearly 24 percent year-over-year.
San Jose has also become more buyer friendly, with homes staying on the market nearly two weeks longer, Zillow said. Listings with price cuts nearly doubled since last year. Inventory is up nearly 45 percent in the San Jose area, which consists of Santa Clara and San Benito counties.
With that cooling, it’s not surprising to see homeowners hoping this year’s IPOs will give the Bay Area housing market a lift.
The IPO-fueled demand from homebuyers could also spur more longtime Bay Area homeowners to cash out and move to lower-cost markets such as Raleigh, Nashville and Boise, Idaho. That trend was the subject of last week’s San Francisco Business Times cover story.
The Bay Area economic impact of this year’s spate of IPOs has captured national attention. The New York Times predicted that “when Uber and Airbnb go public, San Francisco will drown in millionaires.”