The Bay Area’s daunting real estate math after COVID

Frustrated house hunters aren’t imagining it — there really is just one home for sale for every 1,206 South Bay households earning $100,000 to $125,000 a year.

That’s according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors, which compares household income to the number of homes listed for sale in each price bracket as one way to gauge housing supply against potential demand. From households earning $50,000 a year to those raking in $500,000, the San Jose and San Francisco metro areas are at or near the top of the list for the nation’s least accessible cities, and competition is steepest in lower price ranges.

“Even though people can afford to buy, there are not houses for them,” said Nadia Evangelou, the association’s senior economist and director of forecasting.

Bidding wars, waived inspections and all-cash offers are by no means new in the Bay Area. But the combination of record high prices and record low inventory during the pandemic has combined to put homeownership further out of reach for more households, the report found.

Long term, economists warn that the severe lack of housing options could widen the gap between the wealthiest households and middle-class residents looking to put down roots, and prompt more aspiring home buyers to leave the area altogether.

Concerns about widening inequality are magnified when breaking down the data by race. Black home buyers have less than half of the buying power of white counterparts in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area, Evangelou said, due to stark racial income gaps in the region.

Christin Hakim

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