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The 2020 San Francisco exodus is actual, and historic, report reveals

A new report confirms what many have been talking about for weeks: there is an exodus from San Francisco, and the numbers are staggering.

Online real estate company Zillow released new statistics this week that shed a clear light on the subject. Their “2020 Urban-Suburban Market Report” shows that inventory levels are up a whopping 96% year over year as empty city homes flood the market like nowhere else in America.

The reason for this change is likely a combination of some unprecedented factors that clashed this summer, creating a historic change in the city.

The astronomical cost of owning a home on the San Francisco city limits, sky high since the second tech boom in over a decade, had to break at some point, and the coronavirus seems to be the straw that broke the camel back. The pandemic soon caused tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to ponder what work looks like, as many employees have given the opportunity to work remotely for the foreseeable future, and perhaps forever.

This, along with the fact that most of the city’s entertainment venues, restaurants, and bars have closed, has given many residents – especially tech workers and transplants – little reason to stay when more spacious, literally greener pastures are (relatively) cheaper to stay in regions in California like Lake Tahoe or Palm Springs.

Holy crap. Exodus in San Francisco: https://t.co/VaoQr5V0nQ pic.twitter.com/rywb8z7Poa

– Kim-Mai Cutler (@kimmaicutler) August 14, 2020

It should be noted that prior to the pandemic, San Francisco had unusually low inventory levels compared to other major cities. Historically, the ratio of homes for sale to total homes was a quarter of New York’s.

Regardless, the 96% yoy change in inventory is a significant moment.

Zillow economist Josh Clark told SFGATE that the remote working shift alone did not trigger the exodus.

“It may be tempting to attribute the city of San Francisco’s inventory boom to the advent of remote working that came with the pandemic, but you only have to look to San Jose to question that narrative,” said Clark. “The San Jose subway, which is technically dominated like the city of SF, has not seen a similar increase. Two things that could make the difference are the density of San Francisco and the lower proportion of family households.”

The same dramatic shift has not been seen in other major cities across the country, according to the report.

“If you compare the capital to its surrounding suburbs, the San Francisco metropolitan area breaks the mold. Higher inventory levels, which are up 96% year-over-year after a spate of new offers during the pandemic, are on the market in the city proper. a significantly larger jump than in the surrounding suburbs, “says the report. “While in similar cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, Seattle, and Washington, DC, a decline or depletion of inventory is a consistent trend in and out of city limits.”

The full Zillow report can be found here.

Andrew Chamings is an editor at SFGATE. Email: Andrew.Chamings@sfgate.com | Twitter: @AndrewChamings

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