New buyers, more buyers bring demand to formerly overlooked SF neighborhoods

We’ve all noted an upward trend in places like the Mission and Bernal Heights as new buyers, spurred by the dearth of properties available in traditionally popular neighborhoods– as well as the corresponding high price tag therein– look to parts of the city that before might never have received attention. This year, per data pulled by online brokerage ZipRealty, the most popularly searched and saved homes weren’t in places like Noe or Cole Valley, but instead the Excelsior/Crocker-Amazon, Outer Mission and Bernal Heights, the Tenderloin and SoMa.

The home above is in Crocker-Amazon in the 94112, which emerged as ZipRealty’s most popular “search and save” zipcode in 2013. It is a 3 bed/1 bath with garage and yard. At 1,638 square feet priced for $598k, that’s $365 per square, (a flat out bargain when you consider the current median price per square foot citywide is $723.11). Unfortunately, that was the list price in January of this year. Now the house lists for $737,600 after a price bump in February.

Public records show the property last sold in 1989 for $285K, then listed and de-listed in 2013 and back now, cashing in on new interest in the area.

ba240 1 New buyers, more buyers bring demand to formerly overlooked SF neighborhoods

These data show the popularity of the top five searched/saved neighborhoods, as well as the percent change is the median sales price of each year-over-year

Curious what falls in these zip codes? You might be surprised just where people want to own now in San Francisco.

Typical offerings in the top zip codes

We’ll look at a typical listing in Bernal and one in SoMa as well, rounding out examples from the top 3 most popular.


This Bernal Heights 3/2 (above), admittedly charming, offers both garage and yard. It was listed at $1,150,000 and was pending in less than 10 days. Those are some very in demand 1572 square feet on Ellsworth St..


Here’s  a SoMa condo on Folsom that’s been through more than one boom cycle.  Today, it’s a 1/1, all of 700 square feet. This lists for $650K– but throws in a roof deck and view. The listing warns of an “offer deadline of Feb. 3,” which  speaks to the health of the market—at least for sellers. In 2010, it sold for $552K;  took a hit and in 2011 sold for $520K. Welcome to 2014 and a list price of $650K.

Why so few “saved” homes in overall searches?

In a nutshell, it’s the low inventory more than anything else, including the much attacked “tech money” buyer, driving up prices and spreading gentrification into all corners of the city.

“The number of homes for sale in the greater Bay Area at April 15th 2012 was a little over 12,000, and by the end of 2012 that number had fallen to 5,500…a drop of 55%.  Then, from the end of 2012 through the end of 2013, Bay Area for sale inventory continued to shrink…down another 20% to 4,400 at January 2014.  So, from where we were in early 2012, the number of homes for sale in this part of the country has plunged 64%.  That’s almost certainly impacting the number of saved homes, as there just aren’t as many homes to save.

“When you couple a 50-60% decrease in the supply of homes for sale with a harder-to-measure increase in buyer demand spurred by San Francisco’s technology boom, that’s where you’ve seen the big increases in property values coming from in the past couple years here,” said Lanny Baker, CEO of ZipRealty.

Today’s buyers logged on

Before we discount search activity as not connected to buying, we should note that according to the National Association of Realtors, “93% of interested homebuyers” start their search online with companies like ZipRealty, Redfin, Trulia, Zillow, and the like.

Gentrification: unavoidable?

Certainly, this phenomenon is real. Recently we marveled at condos selling at lightning speed at Valencia and 19th in the Mission for $2M or more a piece. Bernal Heights also made news for winning real estate’s “hottest neighborhood of the year” in a nationwide study by Redfin. And while some sellers in places like Excelsior most likely welcome new attention and demand for their properties, such market action also means the last “affordable,”  inclusive neighborhoods in the city are evolving to look a lot like their expensive, rarefied brethren.

See mapped areas of the zips in the gallery below:

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert

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