|San Francisco, which lost its title as the hottest U.S. real estate market to a Bay Area suburb back in the spring, returned to the head of the class in September, coinciding with a miniature Indian summer heat wave in Northern California.
That’s according to Realtor.com’s recurring monthly list of the nation’s 20 hottest housing market, as gauged by the briskest pace of sales and the most listing views on its website. Homes in these metro areas typically sell 23 to 43 days faster than the national average and can receive nearly four times as much online traffic.
For much of the past year, San Francisco has topped that list but was usurped by the Vallejo-Fairfield metro area in May. In September, the San Francisco metro area — which includes nearby cities such as Oakland and Hayward — regained the No. 1 position, up from No. 4 in August. Vallejo fell one spot on the hot list to end the month at No. 2.
California cities have been mainstays on the hot-markets list since its inception, and September was no exception, with the state claiming 10 of the 20 spots. The rest of the Golden State pack: San Diego (No. 5), Stockton (No. 6), Sacramento (No. 8), San Jose (No. 9), Modesto (No. 11), Yuba City (No. 13), Santa Rosa (No. 15), and Santa Cruz (No. 17). All 10 of those communities made the hot list in August, while Fresno dropped off in September.
The rankings come shortly after Realtor.com named the country’s 10 hottest ZIP codes, based on the same criteria it uses for its monthly list. That list included two Bay Area ZIP codes — Pleasant Hill’s 94523 and Petaluma’s 94954. Both cities are relatively affordable compared with other parts of the Bay Area; the median sales price is $630,000 in Pleasant Hill and $596,000 in Petaluma.
But it’s not just California and Bay Area markets that were on a hot streak last month. Realtor.com says that the U.S. median sales price held steady at $250,000, up 9 percent year over year and a record high for September. Amidst tight inventory conditions nationwide, homes are selling 4 percent faster than they did one year ago. In a statement accompanying the rankings, Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said that he expects low supply and high demand to persist through the final quarter of the year.
California added 63,100 nonfarm positions in August compared with 36,400 in July. That makes August the busiest month so far this year for hiring and the second month that the state has added in excess of 60,000 new jobs.
As in July, the construction sector led California’s job growth in August, with an annual gain of 4.0 percent. The professional and business services sector, which includes many tech jobs, also posted solid year-over-year job growth of 3.6 percent, followed closely by the educational and health services and leisure and hospitality industries.
Those high-paying tech jobs are driving California and the Bay Area’s economy, with the San Jose metropolitan area posting the largest annual gross domestic product growth in the U.S. in 2015, at 8.9 percent. According to a recent analysis of the California economy by Pacific Union Chief Economist Selma Hepp, while many of nation’s tech epicenters are also its fastest-growing economies, the industry appears to have particularly benefited the Golden State’s economy, which is now the world’s sixth-largest.
A separate report on job creation called the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which captures data quarterly but is considered more accurate, showed tech-industry gains of 8.5 percent year over year in the first quarter. Monthly data referred to above, called Current Employment Statistics, showed a 3.4 percent increase for the same period.
Jobless claims dropped in all nine Bay Area counties from July to August on a nonseasonally adjusted basis and remain below 5 percent in every county except Solano, the only place in the Bay Area with a unemployment rate higher than the statewide average. San Mateo County has California’s lowest unemployment rate, at 3.2 percent, followed by San Francisco (3.5 percent), Marin (3.5 percent), Santa Clara (4.0 percent), Napa (4.1 percent), and Sonoma (4.1 percent) counties.