The MLS Districts in San Francisco
Out in the Northwest is District 1 The West — District 2 — The Sunset and Parkside The Southeast — District 3 — Sunshine is Breaking Through the Fog The Real Middle of San Francisco — District 4 The Right Side of Twin Peaks — District 5 — All those Valleys Thar Be Whales Here! And What’s Inside Here? In Between the North and South — District 6 — Hayes Valley, USF, Alamo Square, Duboce, NoPa and Lower Pacific Heights The Growing Potential — District 10 — pt 1 The Excelsior, Terraces, Parks, Valleys and more. The Potential in Wait — District 10, pt 2 (centered around 3rd Street)

Out in the Northwest is District 1

District 1 in San Francisco

A mix of styles, price points and features, District 1 — primarily known by its largest part, the Richmond — is home to some of the most stunning views in the City (Sea Cliff) and, yes, to some of the foggiest areas too. Because this area is one of the furthest from rail-based transit like BART and MUNI streetcars, you're more likely going to find buses, cars and corporate shuttles.

Major housing types: Single-family houses, multi-unit buildings, some condos and TIC units.

Styles: Arts and crafts, Victorian, Mid-Century, Edwardian, some modern

Features: Deeper Parcels, potential views, parking, bigger square footage, Bridge views, schools

Major thoroughfares: Park Presidio (to/from Marin), Geary (to/from downtown), Fulton (along the north edge of the park), California (from Sea Cliff and Baker Beach all the way to downtown/the Ferry Building).

The West — District 2 — The Sunset and Parkside

The Sunset

With a name invented by realtors when more people started moving here in one of San Francisco’s many housing booms, the Sunset is one of the larger areas of the City that was developed with a boom in mind, namely, the massive influx of people right after WWII (the Baby Boomers). The area was otherwise known as the Outside Lands (like the music festival) that people wouldn't really visit until it got developed. Bordered by Ocean Beach, the Zoo, Golden Gate Park and the backside of Twin Peaks the area is a series of stucco-clad, angular, row houses and power lines where most homes will have a yard and parking.

Features: Potential views, deeper parcels, schools, proximity to shopping/foods. All the streets are numbered avenues or alphabetically arranged (for the most part) certain blocks were 'model/showcase' homes with more features, rooms and views. Western facades will have more wear because of the ocean influence. The Fog (aka Karl). Garages and parking, in-law units. Lots of stucco. Because of when it was built and where we are in the demographic cycle, there are more fixers around these days than before.

Major Thoroughfares: 19th Avenue (north/south, also part of the California 1, PCH), Lincoln (along the southern edge of Golden Gate Park from the Beach to the Panhandle to 101 eventually), Judah (where the N-Judah MUNI light rail runs from UCSF to the Beach), Sloat (the southern edge of the district from the Beach to Portola (that leads to Market Street) and Junipero Serra (that leads to 280), Sunset (north/south that runs from Sloat to the Park), Irving (east/west from UCSF to the Beach, where many businesses are, connects with Cole Valley), Taraval (east/west, businesses and where L-Taraval MUNI streetcar travels)

The Southeast — District 3 — Sunshine is Breaking Through the Fog

District 3 of San Francisco

Long overlooked this area was always there. It was probably on your commute route from 280 to Portola to Market Street, or maybe it was where you took some classes at City College or got your degree at SF State (in which case you already know the area), but for whatever reason, the area has, of late, been seeing increased attention for a few reasons. First, there is that demographic shift we talk about: a lot of people who moved here after the war or through eased immigration policies in the 1960s and 1970s are now too old to be in their homes any longer thus freeing up inventory; the proximity to the freeways and to Lowell; High School (the best public school in the City), or, because folks are priced out of other parts of the area's single-family house inventory combined with ability to remodel and/or to earn some extra income from that in-law unit you rent out to that college student, makes the area especially attractive. That and other revitalization projects that have transformed Ocean Avenue into something more modern (there’s a Whole Foods now — a Whole Foods!) and Stonestown’s latest iteration (how many Targets can you really have?) has lead to rising prices and increased flippers. The houses here tend to be larger and detached and very stylized near Merced Manor and Pine Lake Park and tend to be the Sunset style homes elsewhere. The hill that separates Merced Heights from Ingleside Heights provides views of the City on the Merced side and an echo chamber for 280 below, hence the price difference you’ll see.

Major Thoroughfares: 19th Avenue, Ocean Avenue, Sloat Boulevard, Junipero Serra

Major features: Lowell High School (the best in the City), SF State, Stonestown Galleria (Mall/Complex whatever they choose to call themselves), Lake Merced, the Fog, Ocean Avenue, City College,19th Avenue, 280 (yes, these are thoroughfares but major ones that impact the entire area)

The Real Middle of San Francisco — District 4

San Francisco's MLS District 4

The real geographic heart of the City lies somewhere near (the aptly named?) Mt. Olympus in the middle of District 4, which is a sprawling area that runs from UCSF’s Parnassus Campus with its Eucalyptus grove (which are non-native species that Mr. Sutro planted here, yes, the Sutro of the hill and tower) all the way down to 280 and the Glen Park BART/City College area.

Such a large area would see a lot of variety, right? Well yes and no. The primary property type you’ll find here are single-family houses that were all pretty much developed in the 1930s to 1960s (while there tend to be a few condominiums and pockets of newer development).

The differences are more tied with what the original developer’s goals were — high end, middle end, luxury vs. functionality. You can kind of tell where one development ended and where another started by looking at the street names, which are themed.

For example, in the Diamond Heights area, you’ll find the Eichler houses and big condo development at Diamond Heights Village. That area was targeted by the urban development group that was the predecessor to SPUR. Those houses are now in vogue and feature radiant heat, thin walls, lots of glass and, if you're lucky, bigger parcels overlooking Glen Canyon.
Otherwise, you’ll encounter the bigger-sized, Spanish-style, stucco-clad homes of West Portal, Mt. Davidson Manor, and Westwood Highlands. Families looking for homes in Miraloma to be closer to the elementary school or, similarly, in Sunnyside, where the houses have more architectural styles, sizes and variety. Two schools, Sunnyside elementary (public) and St. Finnbar’s (private) attract a lot of people so you will likely see kids making a cameo in these areas who are not paid actors. The trick here is balancing size, views, topography (hillside homes pose certain challenges) and precise location (proximity to freeway noise, BART, etc).

Mid-century boxes among trees, fog and windy roads are the name of the game in Midtown Terrace. In the shadow of the Sutro Tower, folks move here for value, central location and to be closer to Clarendon elementary.

Grand homes (with neighborhood HOA dues and crazy covenants that are hereto unconstitutional) make up St. Francis Wood. This developed community was meant to be big. Parcels are larger, homes are larger and if we were in a sunnier part of the City these homes would be far more expensive as you’d get a Pasadena-like vibe here. Indeed, when homes turnover they usually only do so once every 20 to 40 years as these are the homes where tend to buy when the kids are young and sell when the kids have kids of their own (thanks Prop 13). This explains why you will encounter substantial renovation projects here when driving around as 40 years is long time for things to add up.

Major Thoroughfares: 19th Avenue/Portola, Ocean Avenue, Laguna Honda, O’Shaughnessy, Monterey, Clarendon

Major Features: Sutro Tower, the fog, detached homes, windy roads, public schools, eucalyptus forests, mid-century elements, parking, views

The Right Side of Twin Peaks — District 5 — All those Valleys

The True Heart of San Francisco

By the right side of Twin Peaks we mean it literally and figuratively as Twin Peaks acts like a barrier and buffer to the fog. Thanks to that the area stays sunnier and warmer. Because of this and because people have been living in these parts of the City for quite awhile, you're going to get that Victorian/Edwardian charm combined with modern stunners and everything in between. Another component for the district is access to freeways, tech/corporate shuttles, both BART and MUNI.

Features: Weather, location, centrality, wiews, hills, charm, history, architectural variety, schools, restaurants, parks

Major Thoroughfares: Dolores (north/south, palm trees from 280 to Market). Market Street, Oak and Fell Streets (east/west across the City), Mission Street (parallel to Market Street), Haight Street (east/west from Market to the Park), Castro, Divisadero, Church, Guerrero Streets (north/south, businesses), 16th, 17th and 18th. 24th. 29th Streets

Thar Be Whales Here!


And What’s Inside Here?

Cars? Shoes? Scrap? Probably headed to the Port of Oakland, which is in the top 10 busiest ports in the country.

In Between the North and South — District 6 — Hayes Valley, USF, Alamo Square, Duboce, NoPa and Lower Pacific Heights

District 6

A particularly dense area with a lot of homes, neighborhoods and vibes.

An older part of the City, you’ll find some of the most San Francisco-ey homes here; some are the big, grand full-floor condos, stately, oversized victorian mansions (both preserved and completely ripped apart and put back together), modern developments and everything in between.

Major Thoroughfares (the who’s who of them should we say?) Oak, Fell, Gough, (but not Franklin), Geary, Fulton, Divisadero, Bush, Pine, Sutter, Golden Gate, Turk, California

Major features: USF, Japantown, Alamo Square’s Painted Ladies, Duboce Park, the Fillmore, the Panhandle, the City Shopping Center, Divisadero Corridor, Hayes Valley,

The Growing Potential — District 10 — pt 1 The Excelsior, Terraces, Parks, Valleys and more.

San Francisco's southeast

The Growing Potential — District 10 pt 1 — The Excelsior and all the Terraces, Parks, Valleys and more.

District 10 is the largest of all the Districts is, essentially, the entire CIty south and east of 280 until you get to Cesar Chavez. The area has parts that are in the sunniest and flattest part of San Francisco. It also has hilly parts and very foggy and windy parts indeed with views ranging from those towards Twin Peaks to those with dead-on views of the skyline.

Mission Terrace: This is where the big-small-spanish-style houses live alongside with the cottages and victorians you'd expect. Just south of 280 and San Jose, this clutch of houses show a lot details on the inside and heavy influences from that 1930s Hollywood-come-Spanish-Mediterranean vibe on the outside especially in the area where all the streets are named Santa or San.

Balboa Park: Extension of the Spanish-Mediterranean vibe but more Sunset-style/mid-century vibe. Dominated by Balboa Park and proximity to Ocean and Geneva along with BART and freeway noise, the mix here is wide.

The Portola + University Mount Area: A wide variety of houses, mostly from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s that range from the Sunset-style house to midcentury homes. More and more houses are being flipped which will mean money goes further here but that there will be more to come especially in the clutch of streets that are named after colleges and universities.

The Excelsior: where the streets are named after countries and foreign cities. Mixes of some flipped houses, victorians, edwardian arts & crafts, Sunset-style houses, new developments with varying ranges of fog. The midblock stretches can be long

Crocker-Amazon: the wedge between the Excelsior and Balboa Park where there are houses and more houses with the variety we've seen in these areas. Heavily residential with schools and proximity to the green and vibrant Crocker Playground which melds into McLaren Park with Viz Valley on one side the Portola's University Mound neighborhood on the other.

Visitacion Valley: Off of Paul and San Bruno there are steep street, high schools, and Sunset-style houses, some with stunning views, in this area that is undergoing a subtle demographic shift that's more pronounced over in the Portola but is a force that is coming.

The Outer MIssion and Crocker-Amazon (pt 2): Eventually rows and rows of Sunset-style, Victorians and mid-century houses in San Francisco fade into the rows and rows of Daly City. Unlike the ticky-tacky houses in the Westlake areas, this part was more of an extension of San Francisco’s housing stock that straddled the county line (which had consequences) fading into what’s called Old Daly City.

Silver Terrace: HIllsides full of Sunset-style houses (boxy upstairs built over a garage, stucco/wood clad perched on the other streets named for planets (the other ones being in Corona Heights). Denser and very residential feeling with little to walk to; BART and freeway noise avoidance a certainty.

Major Thoroughfares: 280, Ocean Avenue, San Jose, Geneva, Alemany, Mission Street, 101, 3rd Street

Major Shopping Areas: 3rd Street, San Bruno Avenue, Mission Street, Ocean, Geneva

Major Features: The T-Line, 101, 280, McLaren Park, Crocker Playground, the Cow Palace

The Potential in Wait — District 10, pt 2 (centered around 3rd Street)

District 10

The Mysterious Potential — District 10 pt 2 — Areas Clustered near 3rd Street

District 10 is the largest of all the Districts is, essentially, the entire CIty south and east of 280 until you get to Cesar Chavez. The area has parts that are in the sunniest and flattest part of San Francisco. It also has hilly parts and very foggy and windy parts indeed with views ranging from those towards Twin Peaks to those with dead-on views of the skyline.

The Flats + Bayview: Developed over time, the flat parts was the most industrial part of the City thanks to war-related shipbuilding and assorted other industries. Now there is a mix of industrial parks, new developments, housing developments, older homes that all focus around 3rd Street.

The More Traditional Parts: The further south you go on 3rd Street (past Cargo) the more it looks like the other parts of San Francisco: Victorians, Sunset-style homes and multi-units. You’ll see some modern in-fill (the area has its own zoning designation) but you’ll also see economic disparity (housing projects, bars over windows vs. new developments, flips and Flora Grub) on display in the area as it remains one of the last affordable parts of the city while also facing the challenges that come with being a city with a long history.

The Newly Reclaimed Parts: Areas closest to the piers and Bay have been undergoing environmental remediation for decades now as part of an area-wide redevelopment plan that promises to add more housing, a portion of the ring of trails and parks circling the Bay.

Apart feeling eerily quiet and sparse, the recent housing developments at Hunters Point — namely the massie the Shipyard new development project that sold gobs of townhomes — have been beset with litigation stemming from a supposed Super Fund environmental cleanup that turned out to be fraudulent. There's even more space being reclaimed by Pier 70 and more. But the area's numerous projects are now on hold thanks to the COVID Pandemic. The area will have to wait that much longer.

Candlestick Point: a groups of condominiums near the landfill (downwind) and 101 near, well, the former Candlestick Park, is among the more wind-blown locations you can wrap around to Hunter's Point from here.

Major Thoroughfares: 280, 101, Cesar Chavez, Phelps, Evans, 3rd Street

Major Shopping Areas: 3rd Street

Major Features: The T-Line, 101, 280, the sewer treatment plant, the fruit wholesalers market