San Francisco is one of the most interesting cities in the world. With its laid-back sophistication and broad-minded elegance, it is no wonder that real estate in San Francisco is highly sought after. It is a competitive real estate market, with homes tending to sell fairly quickly, and often over asking price; but with due diligence it is possible to find the perfect home at an affordable price.
If you are looking for a home in San Francisco, understanding the layout and neighborhood distinctions is important. San Francisco is a compact city, covering an area of approximately 7 x 7 miles. It is organized into 10 Districts, each determined by geographic boundaries. Within these Districts are neighborhoods. Some are characterized by distinct ethnic and cultural heritage, others by lifestyle or industry.
Districts 1, 2, and 3 are at the westernmost edge of San Francisco, and were among the last areas of the city to be developed. Because of their proximity to the Pacific Ocean the weather in these Districts can be changeable, switching from some of that famous San Francisco fog to brilliant sunshine when the ocean breezes kick in.
District 1 – Northwest
The Richmond District, as District 1 is sometimes known, is a culturally diverse community surrounded by parks and recreational spots; Lincoln Park, the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, and the Pacific Ocean. Homes range from the exclusive mansions in Sea Cliff to the tidy little Victorian and Edwardian single-family homes of Laurel Heights.
District 2 – Central West
District 2, sometimes referred to as the Sunset District, is home to the UCSF Medical School and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This District has the laid back feel of a small town, with an intriguing ethnic mix and some great restaurants. Housing in District 2 is eclectic, ranging from early mid-century homes by Henry Doelger, to the whimsical houses designed by Oliver Rousseau.
District 3 – Southwest
District 3 is home to San Francisco State University and the Stonestown Galleria, which is a suburban style shopping mall plunked down right in the city. Residences in District 3 range from the gracious homes in Merced Manor and Pine Lake Park, to the single-family, middle class homes built by the Gellert brothers in Lakeshore.
Districts 4, 5, and 6 are in the heart of San Francisco and include some of the more colorful neighborhoods in the city – Haight Ashbury, the Castro District, and the western edge of the Mission District. Some of the most gracious homes in the city can be found within the boundaries of these districts.
District 4 – Twin Peaks West
Some of the most diverse architecture in the city can be found in District 4. The cozy neighborhood of West Portal is the business hub of the area, typified by independently owned shops and small restaurants, surrounded by well maintained single-family homes. Wide curving boulevards characterize many neighborhoods in District 4. Forest Hill and St. Francis Wood are gracious residence parks with architectural styles ranging from French Country to Georgian and Tudor. Sherwood Forest has some of the city’s largest residential lots and a diversity of styles, including custom contemporary and California ranch. For the mid-century modern enthusiast, Diamond Heights is an exciting community of mid-century single-family homes, apartments and condos, and just may have the largest concentration of Eichler homes in the city.
District 5 – Central
A rich variety of homes and amazing character are what one can expect in District 5. Haight Ashbury still boasts the Bohemian ambience that once made it so famous. Duboce Triangle is a rapidly changing community, and one of the sunnier areas of the city. Twin Peaks offers some of the most spectacular panoramic vistas in San Francisco, and Noe Valley has become a much-coveted residential area. District 5 may well be one of the most socially diverse areas in the city.
District 6 – Central North
District 6 is where one can find an abundance of the Victorian architecture San Francisco is so famous for. Alamo Square, home to the famous Victorian “Painted Ladies” is in District 6, along with some exquisite views of the city. Hayes Valley is a hipper, trendier part of the district and real estate there includes a unique mix of lofts, condos, and distinctive homes.
The City’s downtown and northern waterfront follows the bay from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. It is here that tourists flock to visit Fisherman’s Wharf. Once home to the Barbary Coast, North Beach boasts a vibrant nightlife and interesting history. Pick up the city beat in Downtown San Francisco, where fame and fortune abound. Chinatown, cable cars, world-class restaurants, and luxury hotels lure visitors and residents alike to Districts 7 and 8.
District 7 – North
Cow Hollow, the Marina, Pacific Heights, and Presidio Heights are the neighborhoods in District 7. Pacific Heights is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in San Francisco. This prestigious real estate includes luxury condos with stunning views, co-ops, and elegant mansions. Nearby Cow Hollow and the Marina attract a young affluent crowd with a great singles scene, trendy bars, and a wide variety of interesting homes.
District 8 – Northeast
District 8 is San Francisco at its most urbane. Downtown is the cultural heart of the city, while the Financial District is the economic center. Nob Hill and Russian Hill are two well-recognized, old money neighborhoods in this district, while North Beach is an artsy, vibrant neighborhood, full of quaint single-family homes and apartments.
Districts 9 and 10 have historically been the more industrial areas of San Francisco. Here you will find AT&T Park and Monster Park, home to the San Francisco Giants, and the San Francisco 49ers, respectively.
District 9 – Central East
District 9 is a mix of residential and industrial real estate. The new UCSF research campus has led to the rapid development of an affluent neighborhood in Mission Bay, where there was once a sprinkling of warehouses, shipping yards, and factories. Potrero Hill is a mellow, family-oriented neighborhood that appears to be in the process of being “discovered”. South of Market, or SoMa, is a high tech mecca by day and a nightspot after dark. Housing there is moderate to expensive with industrial as well as residential living spaces.
District 10 – Southeast
District 10 probably has the most affordable real estate in San Francisco. It is a light industrial warehouse area, with a culturally diverse population. Homes in the area tend to be owner-occupied, single family dwellings and apartments.