Real estate in San Francisco is more expensive than nearly anywhere else in the U.S. The median sale price of homes in San Francisco went up for 83 consecutive months from April 2012 until March 2019.
So if you bought a home in San Francisco 10 years ago, it’s very likely you’d have profited on the deal by now – in fact, in several neighborhoods, you would have a good chance at doubling your money.
The overall median home value in San Francisco rose a whopping 90% between April 2009 and April 2019, from $715,900 to $1.36 million, according to property rental and sales company Trulia.
Trulia provided CNBC Make It with a report on the median home value of all homes in the city limits of San Francisco over the past decade, based on the most recent data available.
Median home values in the broader San Francisco metro area, which includes surrounding areas such as Oakland, are up 77% over the past decade, Trulia says, from $534,800 to $946,700.
And within San Francisco, some individual neighborhoods’ home values have jumped by more than 100%, according to Trulia. Here are the five San Francisco neighborhoods that have had the biggest jump.
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Bayview: 116% increase
The city’s Bayview neighborhood, along the southern end of the city, had the largest change in median home value of any neighborhood in Trulia’s report. Bayview had a $424,900 median home value in April 2009, which went to $918,300 in April 2019.
“Bayview has changed dramatically, and prices have increased significantly,” says Carrie Goodman, an agent for Sotheby’s International Realty in San Francisco, who adds that her mother actually bought a condo here in 2012, and it has doubled in value. “Bayview … was one of the last affordable places. You could buy a place for under [$500,000], which is why prices have increased so much. A lot of young professionals started buying here recently. It’s a great place to invest money, even now with the prices that have increased.”
However, the neighborhood still has a long way to go, according to Goodman, who says it is still considered “a bit unsafe.”
“Most San Franciscans know Bayview for its low-income housing projects and high crime rate,” Erin Kennelly, executive director of research at luxury real estate company The Agency, tells CNBC Make It. But that stigma is starting to change, he adds, thanks to the city’s attempts to revitalize its waterfront neighborhoods (including Bayview), along with the opening of the Third Street Light Rail in 2007 and the development of new townhomes and condominiums throughout the area.
Median housing prices in Bayview are also still among the lowest of any neighborhood in the city, which attracts buyers looking to “get a foothold in the rapidly appreciating Bay Area housing market,” Kennelly adds.
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Forest Knolls: 112% increase
The Forest Knolls neighborhood, west of The Castro neighborhood and south of Golden Gate Park, also had a big change, according to the report. In April 2009, the neighborhood’s median home value was $811,800, and it topped $1.7 million in April 2019.
Located near a campus of the University of California, San Francisco, the neighborhood of Forest Knolls “feels like being in a suburb … with pretty yards and good architecture,” Goodman says.
“The central location, great views and availability of true detached homes certainly all play a role on why prices are up,” says Kennelly.
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Bernal Heights: 111% increase
Bernal Heights went from a median home value of $715,000 in April 2009 to $1,507,800 in April 2019.
“The houses are fairly small in terms of square footage, but it’s got a darling main street,” Goodman says of Bernal Heights. “It’s on the south side of San Francisco, so it’s very easy to commute. Prices have skyrocketed in the last seven years or so.”
Bernal Heights was more of a working-class neighborhood until the early 2000s, but wealthier residents have flocked to the area in more recent years, drawn by the location and relative affordability, Kennelly says. “Now it is considered an ideally located yet still moderately affordable place to raise a family – both traits that are extremely rare in San Francisco,” he adds. “This neighborhood will continue to rise in value.”
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Mission: 109% increase
East of The Castro neighborhood in central San Francisco, the median home value in Mission was $699,900 in April 2009 and $1,460,800 in April 2019.
“The Mission transformed from a dangerous neighborhood with a few night clubs in the 1990s into the hottest section of town with five Michelin-rated restaurants,” says Kennelly. “The gentrification will likely continue as more tech workers and other professionals are drawn to this convenient and hip zone.”
“Young people love Mission because of the commute, and it’s also very vibrant. It’s got an eclectic neighborhood with amazing restaurants and a combination of young, old, all different ethnicities and artsy residents. It’s super hip,” says Goodman.
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Potrero Hill: 105% increase
East of the Mission District, Potrero Hill had a median home value of $734,200 in April 2009 and in April 2019 it was just over $1.5 million.
The neighborhood has views of the bay and downtown San Francisco, says Goodman, who adds that another draw is that reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors are opening a new arena nearby. “The most exciting thing in Potrero Hill is that the Warriors arena is at the base of Potrero Hill and opening in September, but people moved there because of the easy commute to the South Bay and good weather and views,” she says.
“Potrero Hill was a working-class neighborhood with an industrial history until a recent influx of homebuyers arrived seeking an easy commute, attainable home prices and a great microclimate, ” says Kennelly.
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It’s the tech influx
A major reason San Francisco’s housing prices have climbed so high over the past decade is the city’s vibrant tech industry, which really started booming in 2012 (thanks, in part, to a tax incentive aimed at attracting tech companies to the city over Silicon Valley). It now attracts a skilled workforce to the city while also driving up the demand for housing and the cost of living.
Once the most recent San Francisco tech revolution took hold (after the previous tech boom of the late 1990s) the city’s cheapest neighborhoods were suddenly “flooded with a tremendous amount of new money, and prices have gone up exponentially” as buyers seek affordability and convenient locations, says Goodman.
Overall, the neighborhood with the highest median home value as of April 2019 is Presidio Heights, which comes in at $4,832,600. That’s 58% more than in 2009, when the median home value was $3,068,000.
The neighborhood that appreciated the least is Lake, near the northern coast, which increased just 28%, according to Trulia. The median home value in April 2019 was $1.79 million, and as of April, it was $2.3 million.
“The Lake District is a small exclusive enclave,” says Kennelly, “and 10 years ago, it was a small exclusive enclave. While it is still full of large, beautiful houses, not much has changed.”
Kennelly says that the modest appreciation may be due to its location: “It can be surprisingly difficult to get anywhere during rush hour from there. Traffic has only increased over the past decade, exacerbating this neighborhood’s isolation.”
The numbers used in this analysis represent the median home values for all homes in San Francisco, which includes every type of residential property, whether single family homes or condos/co-ops, according to Trulia. They are based on estimated home values, rather than sales price, because the estimates offer “a more accurate measure of home prices for a specific region, especially when comparing different areas,” a representative from Trulia tells CNBC Make It. That’s because estimated home values offer a larger sample size of properties that allows Trulia to break down housing prices neighborhood by neighborhood over the past decade, the company says.
The neighborhoods of Russian Hill and the Financial District are excluded, Trulia said, because it did not have data from 2009 to share.
San Francisco Bay Area home prices recently fell for the first time in seven years, albeit by just 0.1%, according to CoreLogic.
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