Luxury home sales in San Francisco rose once again in the first quarter of 2011 over a year ago as the high-end market continued to show strength, according to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the Bay Area’s leading luxury real estate services company. 

A total of 50 homes sold for more than $2 million during the quarter from January through March, up 13.6 percent from the first quarter of 2010 when 44 multi-million-dollar properties sold.  Sales were off from the fourth quarter, however, when 56 homes sold.

The median sale price of a luxury property in the first quarter declined 4.3 percent year over year to $2,727,500, but did increase 3.9 percent from the fourth quarter of last year.

The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold in San Francisco for more than $2 million during the latest quarter.

“The high-end housing market seems to be strengthening as this year progresses,” Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Bay Area. “More affluent buyers are coming off the sidelines and into the market as they see some very good opportunities out there.”

Turley said the luxury market is often the first to recover from a housing downturn because well-healed buyers have the means to invest quickly when they see a turnaround forming, sometimes with all cash. “The so-called smart money has been moving back into the luxury market over the past year or so, and it will be interesting to see if that leads the way for a solid recovery in the rest of the market,” he said.

Despite encouraging year-over-year sales gains, Turley cautioned that the overall housing market continues to face headwinds from the economy’s fragile recovery, stubbornly high jobless numbers, and more stringent mortgage loan qualifications imposed by lenders. 

“We seem to be gaining some traction in the market, but until we see a real turn in employment levels and greater consumer confidence, the housing recovery will continue to face challenges – not so much in the luxury end, but in other segments of the market,” he said.

Some key findings from the third quarter Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage luxury report:

  • The most expensive sale in San Francisco was a seven-bed, seven-bath 10,000-square-foot Presidio Heights property that sold for $12.1 million;
  • Zip code 94114 (Noe Valley/Castro Valley) had the most multi-million-dollar sales with 10, followed by 94118 (Presidio Heights/Inner Richmond) with eight, and 94115 (Pacific Heights) and 94123 (Marina) with six;
  • It took an average of 79 days to sell a multi-million-dollar home in the city, up from 60 days the previous quarter and 67 days during the same period last year;
  • Sellers received an average of 96 percent of their asking price, compared to 98 percent the previous quarter and 97 percent a year ago.

The San Francisco Luxury Market Report is a quarterly report by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, a specialist in high-end real estate sales. Through its internationally renowned Coldwell Banker Previews® program, the company is recognized around the world for its expertise in the luxury housing market. 

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage serves San Francisco with five offices. For more information, please call 925-275-3085.