Neighborhoods According to THE San Francisco Association of Realtors
San Francisco has 10 unique SFAR districts - which are further broken into sub-districts or neighborhoods. Please use the map below and follow individual districts for details on the City's neighborhoods and their story.
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On the northwest portion of the City below the Presidio, south of the Golden Gate and east of the Cliff House and north of Golden Gate Park sits District 1.
The area is mostly dominated by the Richmond District but is also anchored by Sea Cliff, the Lake District and Jordan Park. The District features more houses than condos, which all tend to be on the bigger side. The area is foggier but is also very scenic in parts as its bounded by Golden Gate Park, the Ocean and the Presidio and has more gently sloping hills than other parts of the City. The other hallmark is that public transit is weaker here as there's no BART, no MUNI light rail line. This puts a lot of stress on the big thoroughfares like Geary, 25th Avenue, Park Presidio and California Street.
One of the biggest neighborhoods in the City in terms of geographic size, numbers of houses and population density the Sunset occupies a different place for different folks. It can be the land of recently-immigrated Chinese families (or generations thereof), the old-school original owners who moved in shortly after WWII, the younger family looking for a house in the city, the folks with SF State or UCSF student renter in the in-law unit behind the garage or the home to the surfer crowd.
Traditionally thought of as always being foggy that rep has started to change thanks to global climate change. Buyers who discovered the neighborhood’s foggy disposition is turning into a sunnier one have been buying here while you were busy looking in eastern half of the City and have driven up prices over the past few years by 50-100% in some cases. The area is flatter but once you pass Sunset Boulevard there’s a gentle slope towards Ocean Beach. And homes on numbered streets with addresses in the 1200-1500 range will see Golden Gate Park more. There are great schools and surprises throughout the neighborhood.
Architecturally, one of (truer) stereotypes about the Sunset is that the houses look alike. Okay, they’re not exactly alike but you can see how that rep stuck. Most of the houses are right up against its neighbors. The rows and rows of houses will usually be stucco, have poured terrazzo stairs going up to the main living level with ground-floor garage with a room or some kind of space behind the space. Building materials are almost always stucco and wood with asbestos siding in the rear. Most parcels are 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep with 2 bedrooms, 1 pastel-colored bathroom, dining-living combo with kitchen all on one level. Wood floors are common as are older gravity-style furnaces and older electrical systems that may need some attention. Also, because it’s moist out here, you’re likely to have some kind of pest (termite, dry-rot, or beetle) issue. Many homes that haven’t been updated lately will be sold via probate or trust as fixers or cosmetic fixers. Homes that have been redone can range from the Home Depot fly-by-night fixer to some (rarer) stunning architectural statements.
Lake Shore (3a)
Merced Heights (3b)
Pine Lake Park (3c)
Merced Manor (3f)
Ingleside Heights (3g)
Balboa Terrace (4a)
Ingleside Terrace (4e)
Sherwood Woods (4k)
Monterey Heights (4m)
Located in the middle of the City, these areas surround Sutro Tower and the backside of Twin Peaks, which means you’ll have hilly and curvy streets that can be narrow in parts. Watch out for drainage issues and/or land movement issues (however rare). This also means the area’s hilly topography can also act as a buffer for the coastal fog we’re apt to get. Remember that the fog forms when cool moist air from the ocean is drawn in by the heated landmass from the East Bay, which means that the fog is chilly and wind-driven at times!
Depending on where, these neighborhoods were among the last developed in the City because they were more removed from the flatter parts of the land and probably because some hillsides are so steep. Take note: all those trees you see up by Sutro Tower are not natural to the area. Originally, the area was covered by coastal scrub and grasses like you’d see on Mount Davidson. It was Adolf Sutro, of the tower’s namesake, who owned 1/10th of San Francisco at the time, who planted the eucalyptus, cypress and pine trees that we see today. Homes here range from having views to none at all. You may have a garage (which depends if you’re on the uphill or downhill side of a street) or you may park on the street — just remember to curb your wheels. Things to be aware of in the area: foundations, water drainage systems, roof conditions and other potential issues arising from the area’s potential dampness and/or forest-like feel. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the public school admission process which isn’t tied to where you live necessarily. You’re like to see kids and families, sport utilities alongside the shut-in who hasn’t kept their house up in years.
The flatter areas off of Portola (Market Street’s name once you go over the hill) like West Portal and St. Francis Wood have larger homes and are in demand because they’re bigger and pricier as a result. Meanwhile, the area’s proximity to I-280 makes it attractive for tech folks and the area’s elementary schools are also sought after as they rank among the best in the City.
This area is quintessential San Francisco 2.0 living with a mix of trees, parks, cars, tech shuttles, bikes lanes (be careful!) old picturesque & historic buildings next to new condo developments. The area is home to hippie, yuppie and techie alike.
District 5 is the second most-traded districts in the City and one of just three that saw more than $1B worth of sales in 2015; only District 9, with SOMA, Bernal Heights and Dogpatch, has most sales. District 5 encompasses Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys, the Haight and Lower Haight, Mission Dolores, Dolores Heights, Corona Heights, Buena Vista and Ashbury Heights and more. The area’s proximity to BART lines, 101/280, MUNI lines, views, parks and its warmer weather plus a mix of demographics, topographical and architectural assets combine to make this area very attractive to buyers, renters and tourists.
Hayes Valley Up until a decade ago Hayes Valley was under the central freeway, dark and dingy. But after urban renewal efforts the area has become vibrant and growing. There’s a mix of new condo buildings (8 Octavia, 400 Grove, 300 Ivy, the Hayes) mixed in with Victorian flats, the occasional single family house along the small alleys that dot the area. Many big structures will have garage and parking in the rear along those alleys. The boundaries are porous between Civic Center and Alamo Square and the large swaths of Western Addition housing projects.
The Haight Famous for the summer of love and hippies it’s more filled with techies and yuppies than before. Lots of rental flats in carved up Victorians. Some big houses and condos. Potentially large, historic, some renovated.
The Panhandle & NoPa (North of Panhandle), Alamo Square, Western Addition Two major thoroughfares, Oak and Fell Streets, define the area. This area is filled with wood-floored, single-pane window Edwardian buildings with many that have been split up into condos with decently tall ceilings, plaster walls, and split bathrooms. The ones that have been restored may be TICs for a while but renovations of big houses can be stunning, expensive and more traditional: think Restoration Hardware. Parking tends to be tandem or squeezed into low-clearance garages unless steel beams were added.
This is one of the most varied of neighborhoods in the City. From the ultra posh Russian Hill or Telegraph Hill to the grit of the Tenderloin. Various building and planning department restrictions constrain how much these neighborhoods can ever change. From historic preservation regulations in the Hills — Nob, Telegraph and Russian — to the anti-condo development laws regulating SRO buildings in the Tenderloin you get hardcore entrenched San Francisco-ness in District 8.
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