Alexander Clark Real Estate

‘The Front Steps’: It’s True, Fewer People Leave the Richmond

A couple weeks back a reader left a comment proposing that the Richmond was a more stable neighborhood than much of the rest of San Francisco because fewer people move in or out.

That’s a fascinating idea, but is it true? We decided to test the hypothesis with a little number crunching: Over, say, the past five years, has the volume of homes sold in the Richmond each year been greater than or lesser than the city as a whole?

We compared the number of citywide MLS home sales each year (MLS does not quite encompass every sale that happens, but it’s close) to the number of units in the city per the annual SF housing inventory, then did the same just for sales in MLS District 1 (which covers both the Inner and Outer Richmond) over the combined Richmond housing inventory recorded by the SF Planning Department neighborhood profiles.

Note that SF Planning unfortunately does not update those profiles yearly, so this approach is a bit haphazard; however, the housing inventory in the Richmond is pretty stable year over year, so the differences are likely negligible.

And the results: Yes, it’s true, for four out of the past five years, the rate of Richmond housing sales was less than for the city in general.

For SF as a whole, between 1.33 and 1.44 percent of the overall housing stock traded hands on MLS each year; for the combined Richmond, it was between 0.96 and 1.38.

The only exception: 2020, where the Richmond high of 1.38 percent beat out the city rate of 1.33. Possibly this represents the blow to the condo market during the pandemic.

But wait a minute, what about renters? After all, like the rest of San Francisco, the Richmond is a majority-renter neighborhood.

Unfortunately (and perhaps amazingly), SF just doesn’t keep public records of rental status. However, we can attempt to gauge this by the Median Year Moved In stat, which the Planning Department does collect, albeit only sporadically; the most recent figures, covering 2012 to 2016, show that the average Richmond renter (inner and outer alike) moved in in 1993.

Out of 42 neighborhood surveyed, only four had an earlier average move-in year: Chinatown, Excelsior, McLaren Park, and Visitacion Valley.

So yes, within a reasonable margin of error, it seems that people are less likely to leave the Richmond. There are a lot of potential factors that could contribute to that phenomena, but the most obvious one that comes to mind is, well, you may have heard, it’s a rather nice neighborhood…

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