San Francisco’s Hottest Neighborhoods: Not Where You Might Think

Noe Valley? Bernal Heights?  Those are so yesterday.  Maybe you’re thinking Bayview/Hunter’s Point as people search out more affordable housing at the city’s edges.

Well, you’re right about the edge but wrong about the direction.  Based on our recent analyses, San Francisco’s “hottest” neighborhoods are also some of its foggiest: go west to the Sunset and its more southerly counterpart, Parkside.

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Now admittedly, together these comprise a lot of smaller neighborhoods.  Many would object to, say, the Inner Sunset with its vibrant retail scene centered on 9th Ave and Irving, being lumped in with the quieter environs of the Outer Sunset.  Fair enough:  our analysis is really of MLS Districts, rather than individual neighborhoods, but it’s no less telling for that. Continue reading

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Special Report: Noe Valley Homes

NoeValleyMore High Priced Homes Than Any Other Neighborhood

While its homes may not generally be as grand as those of Pacific and Presidio Height or St. Francis Woods, no neighborhood in the city comes close to matching the number of $2 – $4 million sales that occur in Noe Valley and its environs. Admittedly, part of the reason is that the Noe Valley and surrounds is large geographically compared to those other neighborhoods, so you’d expect there simply to be more sales. But, as any one who has tried to buy a home in Noe Valley will tell you, homes here are expensive – period.
Continue reading

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West Portal, Quiet, and Happy To Be Unnoticed

Photos and content regarding retail activities in West Portal have been generously provided by LostinSF.com, the only French-American insider’s guide to San Francisco and the Bay Area. The French version of this article can be found here.

 

fullsizerender_2Named after the western entrance to a transit tunnel completed a century ago, the quiet neighborhood of West Portal is proud of having been overlooked by much of the frenzied redevelopment going on in many other parts of San Francisco. No big white Google or Apple buses prowl the streets here.  You want bars filled with 20 somethings ordering $12 cocktails and artisan beers?  Head downhill to the warmer climes of the Mission.  Here, in the foggy western shadow of San Continue reading

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That’s Bernal with an “A”.

bernal09

I’ve been making the case recently that SF’s enormous run-up in prices has caused formerly overlooked or “B” neighborhoods to suddenly become the latest battlegrounds in the bidding wars. The reasons’s simple: with more and more people priced out of their first choice neighborhoods, they are increasingly moving on to their second and even third or fourth choices.

Bernal Heights has always had its charms — fine weather, great views, and pretty good freeway access, depending on where you are. But, with its wicked-narrow streets and generally modest housing stock, it’s often been seen as the poor cousin to Noe Valley or even Potrero Hill.

Not any more, apparently. According to this recent article at SFGATE, Bernal Heights was just picked as THE hottest neighborhood in THE COUNTRY, according to Redfin, the national real estate brokerage company. They based their findings on such metrics as how often their users saved Bernal Heights homes to their “favorites” list, how often the area was searched, etc. That sort of attention has resulted in a median sales price increase of 38.2%, according to Redfin. Our own numbers come in at a more believable 20.3% change for the average home price.

Bernal Heights

Still, there’s no doubt that Bernal Heights has finally “arrived” as a neighborhood.

So from now on, spell Bernal with an “A.”

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Fiesta On the Hill – October 20, 2013

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Fiesta on the Hill is a community based, high-profile and energetic Festival with an attendance of over 20,000 friends and neighbors from San Francisco’s Bernal Heights area, neighboring communities and the greater Bay Area. The event is in its 25th year and continues to grow and enhance the ethnic, cultural and economic diversity of the Bernal Heights District of San Francisco and surrounding neighborhoods.

Presented by the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, an organization devoted to community action, equity and justice in the Bernal Heights area, the 25th annual Fiesta is an alcohol free event that emphasizes the importance of well being to the vitality of the neighborhood. The event includes a petting zoo, pony rides, a pumpkin patch, non-profit booths, live music on two stages, great food and a great sense of healthy, inclusive community.

Sunday, October 20, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM PST
Cortland Avenue from Bocana Avenue to Folsom Street, Bernal Heights, San Francisco
No admission fee

For more information go to www.sresproductions.com/fiestaonthehill.html

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Heat Map of Changes since 2006-2008 Peak Values

Heat Map of San Francisco Median Home Price Changes

Percentage Changes since 2006-2008 Peak of Market
Range from 25% Below to 25% Above Previous Peak Values

August 2013 Market Report

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This heat map compares 2013 2nd quarter or 1st half median home sales prices – for houses, condos, co-ops and TICs combined – with those at the peak value time prior to the recent market recovery. Previous peak value times vary by neighborhood: typically, the least affluent neighborhoods hit peak prices in 2006 and also fell the most, percentage-wise, during the crash, falling 25% to 50%. These neighborhoods were most affected by the subprime and distressed-property sales crises. The mid-affluent neighborhoods peaked in 2007, and usually declined in value in the 20% to 25% range. And the most affluent areas reached peak values last, in the first half of 2008 prior to the September 2008 crash: Their fall in value ranged approximately 15% to 20% from 2008 peak to 2010-2011 nadir.

Generally speaking, when the market began to turn around in late 2011/early 2012, the last neighborhoods to fall were the first to recover, followed by the mid-affluent and then the less affluent areas. This link goes to our full report and an explanation of the analysis:
Heat Map Report

2All-Cash Home Sales
All-cash buyers come in three main categories: the first group consists of investors buying foreclosed-upon properties, often during trust-deed auctions on the “courthouse steps.” The Blackrock Group alone has purchased over 20,000 distressed homes across the country, which they usually fix up and rent out. Other investors buy, fix up and re-sell, or just buy, wait and flip (as the market recovers). The second category of all-cash buyers consists of people who always purchase their homes without financing: These often very affluent buyers have always been around to one extent or another. And the last category of all-cash buyers are those who prefer to finance their home purchases but have enough cash available to buy without financing: In the hope of winning in a competitive bidding situation, they make all-cash offers in order to appeal to sellers. This link goes to our full report:
All-Cash Buyers

3Homes With and Without Parking
The vast majority of San Francisco home sales include at least one on-site parking space in the sale, and 80% – 90% of buyers put parking on their must-have list when searching for a new home. That doesn’t mean that a home without parking cannot sell at a good price, but it does mean that on average it will take somewhat longer to sell, as well as selling at a lesser price than a comparable home with parking. It’s difficult to calculate the exact value differential between homes with and without on-site parking for a number of reasons. This link goes to our full report:
The Value of Parking

4Renting vs. Buying in San Francisco
We’ve updated two analyses regarding the financials of renting vs. buying in San Francisco. This is the first part of our calculations regarding 2-bedroom units, comparing the median condo sales price with the average apartment asking rent. (We also did one for 3-bedroom houses.) These calculations depend to a large degree on one’s financial assumptions and projections. For our complete analysis:
Rent vs. Buy – 2-Bedroom

5Largest SF Home Sales YTD
Looking at SF home sales reported to MLS by July 31, this chart shows the largest sales by neighborhood for properties selling for $3,500,000 or more. This link goes to our chart on sales below $3.5m:
Largest Home Sales, Chart 2

 
 
6Victorian & Edwardian Architecture in San Francisco
In case you missed our recent article using information and photos by SF architect James Dixon, here is a fascinating timeline and this link goes to the complete, well-illustrated article on the different Victorian and Edwardian architectural home styles prevalent in the city:
Victorian-Edwardian Architecture

 
 
7San Francisco Transportation Report
We recently stumbled across the annual report of the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and charted some of its most interesting facts. This chart illustrates the (staggering) number of citations issued by violation, and this link goes to all 5 of our charts:
SF MTA Report

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5 White-Hot Districts in a Red-Hot SF Market

5 White-Hot Districts in a Red-Hot San Francisco Market

July 2013 Report

Virtually every area of San Francisco and the Bay Area has been experiencing dramatic home-value appreciation in the past 12 to 18 months. Some that were hard hit by distressed property sales, which experienced the largest price declines, have surged in price but remain 20% – 30% below previous peak values reached in 2006 – 2008. As a state, California is still about 25% below its 2007 pre-crash median home price. And in San Francisco itself, many if not most neighborhoods now appear to have re-attained or moved slightly beyond previous high points.

But in this past quarter, a handful of neighborhoods and districts in the city have leapt well beyond the highest average home values achieved in the past. Interestingly, comparing these white-hot areas with one another, there are often huge differences in property type, era and style of construction, and neighborhood culture or ambiance. But all of them have been very affected by affluent – often newly affluent – high-tech professionals of one age group and level of affluence or another. Naturally, these neighborhoods are highly desired by other buyers too – often professionals in finance, bio-tech, medicine and law – but the high-tech-buyer dynamic has generally super-charged these markets in particular.

However, please note that the difference we’re talking about between these neighborhoods and the rest of the city is between white hot and red hot: Honestly, they’re all very hot markets right now.

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2The Inner Mission
Super hot, super hip, generally young: this neighborhood has seen very dramatic changes since the early nineties as a classic process of gentrification occurred — changes which have recently accelerated. Houses here are often large, classic Victorians, while the condos are mostly modern, built within the last decade or so. This area has a large, vibrant and diverse commercial district centered around Mission and Valencia Streets, but is still close to Noe Valley and the Castro. This chart focuses on the condo market, in which values are approximately 15% above the previous peak.

This link goes to the numbers table behind this graph:
Inner Mission Numbers Table

3Noe Valley – Eureka Valley (Castro) – Dolores Heights
These neighborhoods are part of a district that includes Cole Valley, Ashbury Heights, Clarendon & Corona Heights, Duboce Triangle, Mission Dolores and Glen Park, all of which have seen enormous recent appreciation. Housing here is typically older, built in the first 4 decades of the last century; there are many parks for kids and pets; the streets are tree-lined and the ambiance of the neighborhoods is relaxed and family friendly. This district surged in popularity and price in the mid-late nineties, was one of the last to peak in value in 2008, and has been at the forefront of the market rebound which started early here, in 2011. Among other advantages, it has relatively easy access to highways south to Silicon Valley. The district also has a large condo market, but this chart focuses on house values.
Numbers Table

4South Beach & Yerba Buena
After the Embarcadero freeway came down in 1991 and then AT&T Park built in 2000, this area changed from a place for B and C-class offices and car stereo installations to the home of some of the most dramatic and expensive condo and loft buildings in the country. More condos are now sold here than anyplace else in the city and high-floor units with staggering views often sell for millions of dollars – one sold for $28 million. It’s popular with a number of demographics – high-tech and bio-tech workers working in offices nearby in SoMa and Mission Bay, financial district professionals, and empty-nesters who want to enjoy city life and have all the amenities, but without the responsibility of maintaining a house. Affluent foreign buyers are also a significant segment. Its neighborhood ambiance is very urban. This chart is for condos below the price of $1,800,000, but the dynamic for ultra-luxury condos is also white hot, with an average dollar per square foot value of over $1200.
Numbers Table

5Bernal Heights
Like Noe Valley and Glen Park, this was originally a blue-collar neighborhood filled with Victorian houses. Noe Valley soared in value first, becoming wildly popular, and now people who want a similar family-friendly neighborhood ambiance, but at a more affordable cost, have increasingly turned to Bernal Heights. It also has easy access to highways south to the peninsula.
Numbers Table

6Hayes Valley-North of Panhandle (NoPa)-Alamo Square
This condo market is made up of two totally different types of property: Edwardian flats that have been turned into condos and brand new, ultra-modern condo developments. The Hayes Valley commercial district is very hot and hip, similar to, but still different from the Mission’s Valencia Street. Buyers who are priced out of the nearby Cole Valley-Haight Ashbury condo market often look here for a similar neighborhood ambiance at lower cost. Hayes Valley is also close to the Civic Center cultural cluster of museum, opera, symphony, ballet and other performing arts, which attracts another buyer demographic as well.

If you have questions or would like information regarding a neighborhood not listed above,
please call or email.

Link to Statistical Term Definitions

Statistics are generalities which usually mask large disparities in the underlying individual sales: they are best used as indicators of longer term trends. Average and median statistics are often affected by factors besides changes in value – buyer profile, inventory available to purchase, significant changes in the distressed or luxury home segments – and how they apply to any specific property is unknown. Only a certain percentage of sales report square footage: average dollar per square foot values and average size are based on those that do. However average sales price is based upon all sales, thus there may be inconsistencies between the three statistics. All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision. Numbers should be considered approximate.

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