The Best Time to Buy a House in the Bay Area

By 

Clever Real Estate

Updated 

December 23rd, 2020

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The Bay Area has one of the highest median home values in the U.S. However, not only are inventory levels on the rise, but home value appreciation is beginning to slow down. This means that the Bay Area housing market is potentially in your favor as a buyer. Here we explore if any seasonal pricing trends exist.

Buying a house is a stressful and emotional process. You'll likely have to spend weeks touring properties, fill out hundreds of forms, and invest a large chunk of your savings to secure the right house.

One way to make buying a house easier is starting the process at the right time. In the Bay Area, housing inventory, mortgage rates, and market trends vary from month to month.

For example, this year listing prices for homes in California were lowest in April. On average, homes were $158,882 less expensive. While in November — the month with the highest prices — the listing prices were $165,094 more than the annual average.

In truth, the best time to buy a house really depends on your priorities and situation. Read on to find out which time of year will give you the most options and the biggest savings when buying a house in the Bay Area.

Best Month For


Listing price
April
11.5% lower than average
Housing inventory
May
13.2% more homes to choose from
Mortgage rates
December
2.88% interest for 30-year mortgage
Realtor.com data (October 2020)
Bankrate data (December 2020)

If you're interested in buying a home, the first step in the home buying journey is getting preapproved by a licensed lender. Even if you’re already pre-approved, shopping around for lower rates can pay dividends over the life of the loan.

You can fill out the form below to be instantly matched with a licensed lender who knows the area and can guide you through the process.

Best Time of Year to Buy in the Bay Area

Firstly, it is important to note that in the wider San Francisco, median home values are beginning to stagnate. Prices rose by just 4.2% over the previous 12 months, in comparison to the national average of 7.2%.

The San Francisco housing market is also expected to slow further in the next 12 months, with appreciation growing at just 2.9%. What this means for you as a buyer is that the markets are potentially in your favor.

At a local level, median home values in the Bay Area dropped 2% in December 2018, in comparison to the previous year. The same publicationpresented a further surprise, as inventory levels have increased quite significantly in the Bay Area.

Prolonged appreciation growth in the Bay Area typically resulted in a low supply of available houses, however, inventory levels rose by 31% in December 2018. This once again supports the idea that the Bay Area and wider San Francisco housing markets are now in favor of you as the buyer.

In terms of seasonal timing, you might be wise to begin the Bay Area buying process as fall approaches. This is because the local housing market usually begins to attract buyers around May, as families want to move into a property well before the new school year starts. The summer months also presents weather that is conducive for viewings.

This means that as buyer demand increases, as do the prices. If you're looking to have more leeway in terms of negotiation, then buying throughout the fall or winter monthsmay allow you to obtain a better deal.

Ultimately, with inventory levels rising and median home values falling in the Bay Area, now is a good a time as any to think about entering the market. Your best bet is to get in touch with an experienced real estate agent that knows the Bay Area well, as they'll be able to give you a comprehensive breakdown of when to time the market.

The Best Places to Buy a Home in the Bay Area

West Menlo Park: With a local population that falls just shy of 4,000 people, West Menlo Park is packed with urban amenities. Whether it's coffee shops, restaurants, or parks, you're only a stone's throw away from convenient spots. Public schools within the area are also highly rated.

Loyola: If budget is not an immediate concern of yours, then Loyola is one of the best locations to buy a home in the Bay Area. Unemployment rates are super low at just 2.6%, and the median income surpasses $210,000. With a median home value of $3.6 million and a cost of living that is more than 500% higher than the national average, living in Loyola isn't cheap.

Contra Costa County: If you're at the other end of the pricing spectrum, then you should consider Contra Costa County. This particular segment of the Bay Area is much cheaper than the wider San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Metro area. Median home values amount to approximately $621,700, which works out at $381 per square foot.

Marina: Buying a house in Marina offers the rare opportunity for lower median home values and above-average appreciation growth. With median values at $576,400, this is one of the cheapest locations to buy a home in the Bay Area. Values grew by 8.6% last year, which outgrew the national average.

Solano County: Although appreciation levels are only expected to grow by 4.3% over the next 12 months, Solano is still expected to outgrow the wider California state. With median property prices of $440,100, Solano offers lower-budget buyers a realizable opportunity to move to the Bay Area.

4 Ways to Get a Great Deal On a Home in the Bay Area

1. Find a Great Bay Area Real Estate Agent

Your first port of call should be to find an experienced real estate agent that has extensive knowledge of the Bay Area housing market. They'll be able to guide you through the entire buying process and advise you on some of the most notable pricing trends in the local area.

A Bay Area real estate agent will also be able to provide you with a comprehensive overview of what your best financing options area, including any first-time or low-income buyer programsthat you qualify for.

2. Assess Your Needs and Lay Out Your Goals:

Before you start the buying process, it is important that you first outline your specific goals. This should include the type of area you want to live in, what your budget range is, and whether you need to be within distance to public transport links.

3. Find a Lender and Secure Financing:

Unless you plan to buy your home with cash, you'll need to apply for a mortgage. For most home buyers in the Bay Area, interest rates are among the biggest factors when choosing a lender. Doing a little upfront research and comparing options to find the best rates could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

For example, in California a typical house is worth $599,000. Assuming a 20% down payment, if you took out a 30-year mortgage for 3.5%, your monthly payment would be $2,137. But if you shopped around and found a 3% mortgage, your monthly payment would drop to about $2,020.

Getting a mortgage is a big decision – and it pays to shop around! Keep shopping until you find a lender with competitive rates who also understands your goals. Don’t get pressured into taking on a bigger loan than you’re comfortable with – work with a lender who explains what you’re really signing up for.

It’s easy to start your home buying journey – answer a few questions to get instantly matched with a lender who works in your area.

4. Negotiate for the Best Possible Price:

As the Bay Area housing market appears to be moving in favor of the buyer, you might be able to negotiate a better price on your desired property. You'll be able to further increase your odds of negotiating a better price if you time the market well.

Read more: Tips on how to find a buyer's agent that's a good negotiator.

Clever can connect you with a top-notch real estate agent that has extensive experience of negotiating deals in the Bay Area. Working with a Clever Partner Agent could also make you eligible for our buyer rebate program. For more information on how Clever can help, simply fill in our online form and we'll get back to you!