It’s all about the Land…

San Francisco real estate doesn’t really have much in common with Florida real estate. But the contrasts between the two markets is an interesting one, and goes a long way towards explaining why places like Florida have seen home values plunge while SF home priced gently dipped.

Home Sites in Florida
Home Sites in Florida

Take a look at home prices in Florida, and you’ll either be depressed or fascinated to discover that you could own a home free and clear in Florida for roughly the equivalent of your San Francisco down payment. The good news is that you wouldn’t have a mortgage. The bad news is that you’d be in Florida.

While San Francisco prices dipped by between 10 – 20% depending on property type, neighborhood, and size, homes in FL were decimated. By 50% at least, sometimes by a lot more.

The sign above sells the promise of Florida. Sunny skies, warm weather, and lots of land to build your dream home. I have no idea how old the sign is, but this next picture tells you pretty much everything you need to know about why San Francisco homes held their value much better than in other areas of the country.

Too much land in Paradise
Too much land in Paradise

Too much Land in Paradise

In one word, the answer is: Land.

Unlike other areas of the world, San Francisco has no place to build. Our most desolate areas look downright crowded when you compare it to pictures of the street above, where the streets have been built, the utilities have been strung, and everything is ready to go except… there aren’t any houses!

San Francisco can build up, but any one that has followed new developments in San Francisco knows that getting land entitled and permitted in SF is a laborious and time consuming process.

So yes, our homes may be old. They might lack insulation or be covered in asbestos shingling. The decks might be filled with dry-rot and the weather might be foggy. But all of that becomes almost irrelevant in the calculus of value because San Francisco will never be able to sprawl like Las Vegas, Florida, or most of the rest of America.


  1. Maria Couch says

    The good news is that you wouldn’t have a mortgage. The bad news is that you’d be in Florida.
    Love it Matt! You are so funny! Maria

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