San Francisco real estate boom: Taller buildings, steeper prices

SAN FRANCISCO - In a city famous for its scenery the skyline is being transformed. Office towers and luxury condominiums are rising in San Francisco.

The bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008 is a distant memory. Realtor Cece Blase finds no shortage of prospective buyers at a holiday season open house.


Realtor Cece Blase says San Francisco's hot housing market can be good for her, but tough for buyers
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 “December feels slightly break-neck. There are fewer deals to be had but we are seeing substantial overbidding,” said Blase.

“It is wonderful for a real estate agent. It can be tough for my buyers.”

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, buying a house in San Francisco costs 52.8 percent more than in March 2009, at the bottom of the real estate collapse.

The average price rise in major U.S. cities during the same period is 18.3 percent. The median U.S. home price is $169,000, according to RealtyTrac. In San Francisco, it's up to more than $900,000.

That has sparked protests by San Franciscans who say well paid tech workers are pushing others out of their homes.

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has been a target of the protestors. Not everyone approved of the tax breaks he offered Twitter to move some 800 workers into a headquarters building near the city center.


The exponential rise in housing prices has sparked protests by San Franciscans who say well paid tech workers are pushing others out of their homes.
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 “I understand what the protestors are - they feel threatened,” Lee told CBS News. “The city’s affordability has become a big, huge topic. I recognize that.”

Even if the tech companies themselves aren't located in San Francisco, their employees often choose to live in the city. Google is just one of the companies that run a fleet of private buses carrying workers every morning to Silicon Valley, some 40 miles away.

Anyone can still leave their heart in San Francisco but increasingly only those with plenty of money can actually afford to live here.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.