Typically, after a multi-yearsâ€™ downturn such as occurred in the early eighties and the early nineties and such as weâ€™re just coming out of now, when the market turns, appreciation goes into its own multi-year climb. Even though the market went absolutely crazy in 1996, and despite the bubble popping in 2008, people who bought then have seen 120% appreciation in home value (much less the vastly larger return on their initial down-payment investment, not to mention the huge tax benefits — and that it was an investment that also was a home).
Though the absolutely best time recently to buy in San Francisco, in retrospect, was in 2010-2011, we are still just past the cusp of the bottom of the market. Historically, that is a very good time to buy.
Please note that in the below Case-Shiller chart, the graph is not proportional to the time period from 1988 to 2000: those 12 years show up as much shorter than the 12 years from 2000 to 2012.