Is there ever a good time to buy a home in San Francisco?

Window Replacement Center in San Fransisco, CA

If you are wanting to know when the best time to buy a house in the San Francisco Bay Area is, the answer is not so clear cut, especially with it being one of the most competitive real estate markets in the world.

As reported in SFGate, in San Francisco, September is the month with the most new listings of the whole year. But the question is if that makes it a good time to buy.

Patrick Carlisle, chief analyst for Compass Realty, has tracked the San Francisco market for years. In his opinion, there are two seasons in SF that might appeal to buyers, but for different reasons.

"The greatest number of new listings come on the market in spring and in September, so that's when buyers have the most choice. However, those are also typically the times of highest demand, so buyer competition and overbidding are also at their peaks," said Carlisle.

San Francisco buyers have the highest negotiating leverage in late summer and mid-winter holiday periods.

This is the time with the least competition from other buyers as well: "Many buyers disappear for the holidays and sellers are much more open to lower offers to get their homes sold," he said.

Deidre Joyner of Red Oak Realty, a second-generation agent and among the top 1% of realtors working in the East Bay, provided data on East Bay market activity that show that some months of the year experience higher bidding prices: so, in certain times of the year, homes selling for higher over asking prices.

"Homes that go into contract in January and February have a lower median price, so on a city-wide basis, you will pay less for a property if you get into contract during those months,” said Joyner.

The lower numbers on both charts, however, may be due to inaccurately priced properties and/or properties that are not as desirable.

Joyner's overall advice: Timing isn't everything. Think about the price for your budget, and what you can afford for repairs, remodeling, and location. In other words, in the end buying smart matters as much as trying to buy in the ever-elusive "buyer's market."

Marin, unlike San Francisco, is a market influenced by the school calendar. This can work for or against buyers, depending on their motivation for competition versus a large pool of listings to choose from.

Thomas Henthorne, a top real estate agent with Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty in Greenbrae, has been an agent since 2010 and has lived in Marin since 1998 covering all of Marin County and San Francisco.

Henthorne told SFGate that the best time for buyers to look for a home in Marin County depends on their goals.

"Parents with children in school often have the least flexibility about when they can move, and this in large part drives the spring season in Marin, which is the busiest time of the year," said Henthorne.

In Marin, inventory is highest in the spring, but after Labor Day through October is also a busy season.

"Competition is also usually higher during these times."

Marin's slowest season is winter, particularly the holidays. Though inventory is smaller, sellers are more motivated and there are fewer buyers to compete with.

"Holidays can be a great time to look and I'm speaking from personal experience," Henthorne said. "I just bought an investment home on Memorial Day in Napa County -- I think I was one of the only ones looking that day, and snapped up a home that had just hit the market."

Buying a house in the Bay Area will not be easy, but depending on your goals and perseverance, there are times when the market may be kinder.

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