Where to Buy a Home in San Francisco for the Money You Want to Spend
To a large degree, if you’re buying a house in San Francisco, your price range effectively determines the possible neighborhoods to consider. That does not apply quite as much to condos and TICs: Generally speaking, in neighborhoods with high numbers of condo and TIC sales, there are buying options at a wide range of price points – though, obviously, size, quality, view and amenity considerations will come into play.
The charts below are based upon transactions reported to MLS for 2014. We’ve generally broken out the neighborhoods with the most sales within given price points. Of course, the era, style, amenities and average size of homes will vary widely between and within neighborhoods.
These charts will be easier to read if you adjust your screenview to zoom 125% or 150%. A San Francisco neighborhood map can be found at the bottom of this report.
The overall median HOUSE price in the city at the end of 2014 was about $1,150,000. The vast majority of house sales under $1,000,000 occur in a large swath of neighborhoods forming a giant L shape, down the west side of the city, from Outer Richmond south through Sunset and Parkside to Ingleside and Oceanview, and then sweeping east across the southern border of San Francisco through Excelsior and Portola to Bayview and Hunter’s Point. The southern border neighborhoods are by far the most affordable house markets in the city. (They don’t contain many condos at this point, though some big developments are planned.)
The horizontal columns reflect the number of sales under $1m in 2014 for each area, while the median sales prices noted – to be as current as possible – are for all house sales in each area in the second half of the year.
Where to Buy a CONDO, CO-OP OR TIC for Under $1 million in San Francisco
The overall SF median condo price at the end of 2014 was about $950,000, so the majority of condo and TIC sales are under $1m. These sales take place in virtually every area of the city that features these property types, but a studio unit in Nob Hill will cost the same as a 1 or 2 bedroom unit in Downtown. Some areas with large volumes of sales, such as South Beach/South of Market or Pacific Heights/Marina, offer units for sale at virtually every price point. In such districts, what will vary will be the prestige and amenities of the building, the size and graciousness of the unit, the floor the unit is located on, whether parking is included, and the existence of views and deeded outside space (decks, patios, or, less often, yards).
In the general category of condo, co-op and TIC sales in San Francisco, condos make up almost 90% of sales, TICs almost 10% and stock co-ops 1 to 2%. TICs typically sell at a significant discount (15% – 25%) to similar condos, but there are a number of factors that affect the exact price differential.
The horizontal columns reflect the number of sales under $1m in 2014 for each area, while the median sales prices noted are for all condo, co-op and TIC sales in each area in the second half of the year.
Spending $1 Million to $1.5 Million
In this price point for houses, one starts moving into the big circle of neighborhoods in the middle of the city plus the Richmond District in the northwest. Within this collection of neighborhoods, one will typically get more house for one’s money in the Sunset, Parkside or Outer Richmond than in Miraloma Park, Bernal Heights or Glen Park – and much more than in neighborhoods such as Noe and Eureka Valleys.
In the charts below, the horizontal columns reflect the number of sales in each area, while the dollar amounts reflect average dollar per square foot values for the homes in this price range in the specified areas.
Condo, co-op and TIC sales in this price range are mostly concentrated in those areas where newer (and expensive) condo developments have come on market – and continue to arrive in increasing numbers – over the last 10 years, as well as, of course, in high-end neighborhoods such as Pacific Heights & Russian Hill, and Noe, Cole & Eureka Valleys.
Dollar per square foot values can be affected by a wide variety of factors, including size: All things being equal, larger condos sell at lower dollar per square prices than smaller units. The greater Cole Valley area condos in this price range average over 1460 square feet (think: large, gracious, Edwardian flats), while South Beach condos in this price segment average about 1225 square feet (newer, modern, high-tech, often high-rise). That is part of the reason for the discrepancy in dollar per square foot values between these two areas.
Buying a HOUSE for $1.5 million to $2 million
As the price range goes up, the number of sales begin to narrow. House sales in this price segment predominate in the central Realtor District 5, the greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys area; District 4, the St. Francis Wood-Forest Hill-West Portal area; and District 1, Richmond-Lone Mountain-Lake Street. District 5 is the most expensive district for home sales in this price range, as can be seen in the average dollar per square foot values.
Buying a LUXURY HOME in San Francisco
For the sake of this report, houses selling for $2 million and above, and condos, co-ops and TICs selling for $1.5 million and above are designated as luxury home sales. What you get in different neighborhoods for $2 million can vary widely – a large, gorgeous, immaculate house in one place, a fixer-upper in another.
Luxury home sales in San Francisco are dominated by the swath of established, prestige northern neighborhoods running from Sea Cliff through Pacific Heights and Russian Hill to Telegraph Hill, by the greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district, and, to a lesser extent, the smaller neighborhoods around St. Francis Wood. For luxury condos, the greater South Beach-Yerba Buena-Mission Bay area has a large and growing presence as big, dramatic, expensive condo projects have sprouted there over the past 15 years.
Luxury CONDO, CO-OP & TIC Sales
As one can see below, no area has more luxury condo, co-op and TIC sales overall than the Pacific Heights-Marina district, but the South Beach-Yerba Buena area is the fastest growing luxury condo market and will probably take first position in the not too distant future due to continuing new construction. The average dollar per square foot values for luxury condos in the major neighborhoods run $1001 in the Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys district, $1049 in the Pacific Heights-Marina district, $1195 in the Russian-Nob-Telegraph Hills district, and $1328 in the greater South Beach-Yerba Buena area (think: new, luxury, high-floor units with spectacular views). For the absolute best units, dollar per square foot values can exceed $2000.
Luxury HOUSE Sales
It wasn’t so long ago that houses selling in Realtor District 5, the greater Noe/Eureka/Cole Valleys area (which includes Clarendon, Corona and Ashbury Heights), for over $2 million were outliers. But that is not the case any longer – now, extremely wealthy people (such as Mark Zuckerberg) are buying homes here. Still for the time being, the very highest end of the luxury house market continues to be dominated by Realtor District 7, the Pacific & Presidio Heights-Marina area (which is generally home to the largest mansions in the city). There are several other significant areas for these large, expensive houses, such as Lake Street/Sea Cliff/Jordan Park, St. Francis Wood/Forest Hill and Lower Pacific Heights.
Note that dollar per square foot values vary widely between these districts.
Median Prices for 2-Bedroom Condos and 3-4 Bedroom Houses
in Selected San Francisco Neighborhoods
Distribution of House Sales by Sales Price
This chart breaks down 2014 San Francisco houses sales by sales price segment in $250,000 increments: the $750,000 to $1,000,000 segment (dark green column) had the most sales — the median house sales price over the entire period was approximately $1,060,000.
Distribution of Condo & TIC Sales by Sales Price
The largest number of condo, co-op and TIC sales in San Francisco over this 12 month period was also in the $750,000 to $1,000,000 price segment (dark green column) — the median condo sales price over the period was approximately $950,000. Median sales prices of houses and condos in San Francisco have been converging lately as new construction condos – now coming on the market in increasing quantities – raise overall values.
San Francisco Neighborhood Map
SAN FRANCISCO REALTOR DISTRICTS
District 1 (Northwest): Sea Cliff, Lake Street, Richmond (Inner, Central, Outer), Jordan Park/Laurel Heights, Lone Mountain
District 2 (West): Sunset & Parkside (Inner, Central, Outer), Golden Gate Heights
District 3 (Southwest): Lake Shore, Lakeside, Merced Manor, Merced Heights, Ingleside, Ingleside Heights, Oceanview
District 4 (Central SW): St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill, West Portal, Forest Knolls, Diamond Heights, Midtown Terrace, Miraloma Park, Sunnyside, Balboa Terrace, Ingleside Terrace, Mt. Davidson Manor, Sherwood Forest, Monterey Heights, Westwood Highlands
District 5 (Central): Noe Valley, Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights (Castro, Liberty Hill), Cole Valley, Glen Park, Corona Heights, Clarendon Heights, Ashbury Heights, Buena Vista Park, Haight Ashbury, Duboce Triangle, Twin Peaks, Mission Dolores, Parnassus Heights
District 6 (Central North): Hayes Valley, North of Panhandle (NOPA), Alamo Square, Western Addition, Anza Vista, Lower Pacific Heights
District 7 (North): Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina
District 8 (Northeast): Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, North Beach, Financial District, North Waterfront, Downtown, Van Ness/ Civic Center, Tenderloin
District 9 (East): SoMa, South Beach, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch (Central Waterfront), Bernal Heights, Inner Mission, Yerba Buena
District 10 (Southeast): Bayview, Bayview Heights, Excelsior, Portola, Visitacion Valley, Silver Terrace, Mission Terrace, Crocker Amazon, Outer Mission
Some Realtor districts contain neighborhoods that are relatively homogeneous in general home values, such as districts 5 and 7, and others contain neighborhoods of wildly different values, such as district 8 which, for example, includes both Russian Hill and the Tenderloin.