Dogpatch - The Mark Company
March 1, 2018

San Francisco Led the Nation for Home Building Gains in 2017

Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco all saw building-permit activity increase last year when compared with their historic averages, with the latter leading the U.S. for growth.

  • Building-permit activity increased by almost 95 percent in San Francisco last year when compared with the historic average over the previous 36 years, ranking the city No. 1 the nation for new-construction growth.
  • San Jose ranked No. 8 in the U.S. for home building gains, issuing a total of about 8,500 permits in 2017.
  • Oakland posted a 16.9 percent gain in issued permits, about 40 percent of them for single-family homes.


Construction cranes have become a familiar sight in San Francisco in recent years, and the city in fact ranked No. 1 the U.S. for residential building activity last year, helping to put a dent in continued inventory shortages.

That’s according to a Trulia report, which ranks 84 U.S. metropolitan areas for building-permit activity in 2017. San Francisco led the nation for the growth rate of permits issued — 94.6 percent above its historical average over the period between 1980 and 2016. In a blog post last summer, Trulia predicted that Austin, Texas, which ranked No. 2 for most permits issued last year, would see the biggest uptick in activity in 2017.

San Francisco issued a total of 6,270 permits last year, the second lowest number of the top 10 home building cities included on Trulia’s list. Of those, just 427 were for single-family homes, while 92 percent were for high-density residences, defined as those with five or more units. The company notes that cities with the largest spikes in permits are expanding housing inventory by building up rather than out.

San Jose also ranked in the top 10 for 2017 building-permit increaseswelcome news for a region where job growth is outpacing housing growth by more than 7 to 1. The region posted a 43.8 percent gain in issued permits last year when compared with the average over the previous 36 years. In total, San Jose issued 8,565 permits in 2017, about one-third for single-family homes and two-thirds for high-density housing.

Oakland saw more modest growth in the number of permits issued according to supplemental Truila data, up by 16.9 percent over the historic average. The city issued a total of 10,626 permits last year, 40 percent of them for single-family residences.

Major metropolitan areas in Southern California all saw fewer permits issued in 2017 than is the norm: Los Angeles (-2.4 percent), Orange County (-10.4 percent), and San Diego (-24.0 percent). Combined, those three metro areas added a total of more than 61,000 permits in 2017.

For more insight into the latest new-condominium construction trends in California and elsewhere on the West Coast, check out The Mark Company’s most recent Trend Sheets, which offer insights into activity in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle in January 2018.

About The Mark Company

The Mark Company is one of the nation’s premier urban residential marketing and sales firms. Founded by Alan Mark in 1997, The Mark Company provides a full range of core consulting services including analytics, design, marketing and sales for urban high-rises and suburban attached properties throughout the Western United States. The firm is a trusted partner to global leaders in residential development and finance, providing buyer-driven sales and marketing strategies that produce industry-leading results. The Mark Company has represented more than 10,000 residences and generated over $5 billion in sales for some of the nation’s most notable and successful developments including The Infinity in San Francisco, Evo in Los Angeles and The Martin in Las Vegas. Current projects include 181 Fremont Residences and The Austin in San Francisco and Cavalleri in Malibu. The Mark Company is a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Pacific Union International, the eighth-largest residential real estate brokerage in the U.S. based on 2016 sales volume of $10.15 billion. Pacific Union merged with Los Angeles-based brokerages John Aaroe Group in December 2016 and Partners Trust in August 2017. This strategic business collaboration links four of the strongest residential real estate firms on the West Coast, supporting combined 2016 production of $12.6 billion by 1,400 real estate professionals in 47 offices throughout California. For more information, please visit