San Francisco’s Hottest Neighborhoods Aren’t At All Where You’d Expect

San Francisco's Hottest Neighborhoods Aren't Exactly Where You'd Expect

Getty Images;

San Francisco has become a cliché when it comes to housing prices. We get it—it’s expensive. Crazy expensive. In fact, with a median home list price sitting at (brace yourself) $1.6 million, it’s far and away the priciest metro in the country, according to® data.

But the fact that San Francisco is a nosebleed-inducing outlier when it comes to home prices doesn’t mean it can’t tell us plenty about the state of the housing market nationwide.

“San Francisco has been affected by macroeconomic conditions and events that affect the whole country—soaring stock markets, plunging interest rates, and high consumer confidence,” says Compass Chief Market Analyst Patrick Carlisle.

Carlisle notes those pluses go hand in hand with some of the seductive elements specific to the city: namely, the high-tech boom of Silicon Valley and the rollout of recent large IPOs in the region—along with the gaggle of millionaires they’ve created. Add it all together, and you wind up with a potent brew of ungodly-seeming home prices.

“When you compare San Francisco home prices to other parts of the nation, it blows people’s mind,” says San Francisco agent Brian Tran.

It’s little wonder that there’s been a migration of buyers to the city’s less traditionally desired neighborhoods. According to a data analysis prepared for® by Compass, neighborhoods in the western and southern parts of the city  saw the highest appreciation rates in home sales in 2018. (The report studied single-family homes in areas of the city with at least 35 house sales annually.)

So move over, Marina. Step aside, Pacific Heights. The lesser-known areas on the outer edges of San Francisco, mostly historically working–class areas far from downtown, have emerged from the fog as viable options for budget-conscious buyers (albeit, still rather well-heeled ones—affordability in this town is a relative concept).

“It’s not really a big secret. People are looking for affordable homes they can still buy,” says Carlisle. “And a lot of people prefer houses, not condos. The largest pressure in buyer demand has been in more affordable house districts.”

Urban pioneers open to finding their homes in sleepier, less-gentrified parts of the city can find benefits beyond a (slightly) less stressful mortgage—maybe an ocean view, or a faster commute to the South Bay. These areas may not be household names yet, but they’re becoming better known to bargain-seeking buyers, who are seeking sanity from a housing market that seems to have lost its mind.

Here are the 10 neighborhoods with the highest-rising home prices in San Francisco, ranked by the percentage increase in median sale prices year over year. Happy hunting!

San Francisco neighborhoods where prices are rising

Tony Frenzel

1. Portola

2018 median home sale price: $1,281,500 (+25.6% over 2017)

Backyard in Portola

Backyard in Portola

This southern neighborhood hugging the intersection of U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate Highway 280 is obscure to those familiar with the tourist-ridden areas of the city. Portola is not cable cars and Fisherman’s Wharf. But those who have found this “hidden” area tucked in the southeast corner of the city applaud the “unique working class ‘old San Francisco’ community that’s getting nicer without getting exclusive,” as a commenter on Street Advisor noted.

The transitioning neighborhood boasts both John McClaren Park and the Coffman Pool. And in a sign this neighborhood has truly arrived, popular eateries such as Bahn Mi House and Four Barrel Coffee have sprung up along San Bruno Avenue.

The mostly single-family homes on the market are—gasp—“still affordable,” according to local listing agent Samantha Huang. She’s noticed buyers who’ve been priced out of the adjacent Bernal Heights neighborhood checking out Portola.

“It’s very convenient for transportation. And trendy little shops are moving in on San Bruno Avenue,” she adds.

This renovated three-bedroom just a couple of blocks from the park is priced under the neighborhood median at $988,000—a pricing strategy designed to garner multiple offers.

Portola painted sign

Portola painted sign


2. Crocker Amazon

2018 median home sale price: $1,147,500 (+20.5% over 2017)

Crocker Amazon home

Crocker Amazon home

This neighborhood is far out, as in the very southern edge of San Francisco right along the border of Daly City. There are bunches of single-family homes built mostly in the ’50s and a scarcity of rental units. The area boasts the adjacent Crocker-Amazon Park, as well as jogging and hiking trails, a golf course, two lakes, and a public school.

The area has its fair share of pluses: It is near public bus lines, is a short drive to the underground Bay Area Rapid Transit station, and has easy access to I-280.

“The neighborhoods that still have homes around $1 million or under have been really strong,” says broker associate John Murphy of Zephyr Real Estate. “Crocker Amazon has been performing really strongly, and at a price point a lot of people can afford.”

We found a neighborhood home that’s landed on the market for the first time in 50 years. Built in 1945, the charming three-bedroom could use some renovations, but it’s available for only $928,000.


3. Outer Richmond

2018 median home sale price: $1,681,000 (+16.7% over 2017)

Lands End, bordering the Outer Richmond

Once dubbed “The Great Sand Waste” and “The Outer Lands,” this region of sand dunes and potato fields took nearly a century to transform into prime real estate. But transform it did. Located in the northwest corner of the city, it sits close to the Pacific Ocean.

In the outer avenues, close to Ocean Beach, you can buy a home with sweet vistas. The area, bordering Golden Gate Park, features a mix of condos, rental units, and single-family homes.

Local agent Natalie Hatvany Kitchen of Team Hatvany says home buyers are often surprised to find that a place on this side of town means “a house wi