Alexander Clark Real Estate

‘The Front Steps’: Here’s What Richmond Home Buyers Really Want

So what really attracts Richmond homebuyers?

Well, we can only judge from what the data tells us; and looking at the numbers for 2022 so far, there is one figure that jumps out when we begin plumbing the depths of housing demand in the neighborhood.

It’s not about the price, or the volume of homes for sale, or the size of the property, or even the ever-important number of days on the market.

What really sets the Richmond apart is how old the homes are: Thus far in 2022, the median construction year for homes sold or for sale in the neighborhood is 1923.

And it’s not just this year, this is a very, very consistent trend. For all of 2021, for example, the median for the neighborhood was 1922.

Over the past ten years, it was 1922 again.

And if we delve back 20 years, it was 1923. Very few housing variables are that consistent over a span like that; in fact, we can’t think of a single other relevant data point that’s remained essentially frozen for two decades. It would be utterly impossible for most of them.

Now, what if this is not a Richmond thing but just an SF thing in general? Maybe people like Gilded Age homes in EVERY neighborhood?

Well, maybe. But they don’t buy them as consistently: The median year for homes sold in all of SF in the past two years is 1942.

What if it’s a numerical anomaly caused by the housing stock? After all, we wrote last year about how the Richmond has one of the highest volumes of historical homes in SF.

But according to the Planning Department, the median year of construction for all homes in the Inner Richmond is 1959, and for the Outer Richmond it’s 1954. So more recent homes are definitely out there, and they do of course sell–but not as often.

So why does this matter? Well, one thing that’s interesting about this is that conventional wisdom often argues that new homes are better value, as there’s less deferred maintenance, and modern building codes are generally better. And it’s definitely true that new construction homes sell for more on average than older ones–hence why so many SF homeowners are so hot to renovate.

But that doesn’t always seem to matter. Consciously or otherwise, it appears Richmond buyers know what they like.

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