Decoding the San Francisco Real Estate Market

Knowing the seasonality and marketing cycles of real estate in San Francisco helps to set expectations as buyers enter the market to purchase real estate.  As I prepare clients for a successful home buying journey, the following tends to help buyers know what to expect when it comes to inventory seasonality, property marketing cycles and just what exactly is meant when agents refer to “offer dates.”

San Francisco Inventory Seasonality

Inventory tends to be at its strongest in spring which is typically defined as the weekend after the Easter Holiday.  This is where buyers will see the most properties on the market.  The Spring season runs through the last week in June when the summer slowdown in inventory begins after the 4th of July holiday. The Summer season July through Labor Day tends to be slower.  Which for savvy buyers, this is a great time to find a property as some buyer miss the marketing cycle due to vacations and travel.  While the competition will still be tough, buyers may not be competing with a full Buyer pool.

The 2nd strongest market starts right after the Labor Day weekend and slows down right before the Thanksgiving holiday.  Similar to the Summer months, November and December are slower but can still provide an amazing buying opportunity. 

A small inventory influx blip occurs right after New Years and then another right after Super Bowl Sunday.  Then the market settles down again and begins to build as Spring approaches.

Keep in mind in this inventory constrained market, some sellers break the mold and put their homes on the market out of cycle so if you are looking to buy, don’t close your eyes to these opportunities! 

Property Marketing Cycles

Most new homes hit the market on Thursday or Friday followed by Saturday and/or Sunday open homes which typically fall between 1 pm – 4:30 pm.   We are starting to see Open Homes hosted from 10 to Noon or 11 to 1 pm allowing for more flexibility in planning your day. 

Buyer Tip #1: It is key to see the home early in the marketing cycle to allow us enough time to pull together an offer strategy which involves viewing the property multiple times, securing answers to questions about the property, reviewing the Disclosure Packet, analyzing data to identify a solid offer price and pulling together the elements of the offer for the presentation.  

The first weekend of Open Homes is followed by Tuesday Broker Tour.  Tour is broken out by the 10 districts and sub-districts in 1.5-hour increments. 

Buyer Tip #2: In this aggressive market, if you miss seeing the home during the weekend Open House hours, go with your real estate agent to see the home during the Broker Tour so you don’t miss out on too much time during the marketing cycle.  

Next is a weekday evening open house, known as “twilight tour” which allow Buyers to test commute times, see the home in the evening light and get a sense for the neighborhood during a weekday.  These opens can range from ~ 5 pm to 7:30 pm.

Then it is a rinse and repeat cycle for another round of Weekend Open Homes and another Tuesday Broker Tour.  So basically, the Marketing Cycle is about 10-14 days.  For properties with a lot of interest the marketing cycle is at times condensed making the due diligence period that Buyer have as short as 5 to 6 days. 

Buyer Tip #3:  I recommend for clients to see the neighborhood at varying times of the day so they are very familiar with the area considering it could become their neighborhood!  If it’s a neighborhood that is new to you, visit in the morning, mid-day, after work hours and late at night as if you are coming home from a night out.  This gives Buyers a sense of the neighborhood activity at key times throughout a morning, day, evening, night.  Spend time walking around, visiting the retail corridors and parks, see if the neighborhood feels like home.  Even if you know the neighborhood, this is a worthwhile exercise to at least see it a couple of times, after all, it’s not a pair of shoes you are buying!

What is an Offer Date? 

Offer dates are set by the Seller with guidance from their Real Estate Agent.  Based on the level of interest, which is typically determined after the First Tuesday Broker Tour, an offer date is set. The offer date is where all interested Buyers submit offers by a deadline time/date through their Real Estate Agent. 


The better prepared a buyer is to tackle the intense and at times insane San Francisco and Bay area real estate market the more seamless and effective their experience will be!   

Let me know what your questions or concerns are. I’m here to guide you with a proven framework for helping buyers secure a home in the competitive San Francisco and Bay Area Real Estate Market.