IS BERNAL HEIGHTS THE TOP NEIGHBORHOOD IN AMERICA? 

A Bit About Bernal Heights 

Named as Redfin’s Number 1 neighborhood in the country recently this eclectic neighborhood is bisected by Bernal Hill — one of the favorite stomping grounds of Raffi and his four-legged friends who bark from time to time — into the North Slope and the South Slope. And the South Slope has a natural division at Cortland Street, the main commercial street for area and another at Ogden. To the southwest is Holly Park and to the east you’ll get closer to 101/280 and their freeway noise. Prices have surged of late and it’s common to see single-family houses with 3-bedrooms and updated bathrooms with parking close above $2M with nice and nice renovations and flips coming to market. The buyers here have a variety of motivations and deciding factors from commute considerations to being able to have a yard and view.

ONE OF the biggest neighborhoods in the City in terms of geographic size, numbers of houses and population density. Traditionally thought of as always being foggy that rep has started to change. Buyers who discovered that global climate change has changed the neighborhood’s foggy disposition into a sunnier one, have been buying here while you were busy looking in the eastern half of the City. They’ve driven up prices over the past few years dramatically.

Apart from the climate, one of the (truer) stereotypes about the Sunset, is that all of the houses look alike. And to a certain extent that is true: there are rows upon rows of similar-looking pastel stucco-clad homes, each with a driveway and two sets of front-facing windows all butted up against each other. This is thanks to the FHA, which really pushed building in the “outer/outside lands” in the 1920s-1950s. The formerly rolling sand dunes by the ocean. Streets are numbered avenues and alphabetical Spanish-sounding names. And while the area was originally referred to as the “outsidelands” the association people have with that name now is usually with a chic restaurant at the end of Judah or with the annual music festival in Golden Gate Park each August.

Bernal Heights in A Nutshell

Bernaloutline

Bernal Hill, Precita Park, Cortland, North Slope, South Slope, St. Mary’s, Holly Park, 101, Earthquake shacks


MLS DISTRICT 9A

The Many Faces of Bernal Heights

A. Edge of Mission/Manchester Hill/Coso flat. Still Bernal but barely — otherwise far west of Folsom. More rental buildings than rest of area, close to Mission and Cesar Chavez. Some nice properties but there are rentals and rundown ones too. Some lots are tiny, others large. Mixed inventory on a series of one-way streets that are narrow steep; many homes have no parking but a smart design and renovation can go far. There is a topography change here and the homes value will change. Those part of Bernal heights will retain value and are a mix of funky houses (some on a 12.5-ft lot!) and newer 1980s and 1990s homes and/or multi-unit buildings. Those on the lower parts by Cesar Chavez will have values radically impacted by being on the busy thoroughfare.

B. Ripley/Alabama/North Slope. City Views. Steep streets. Strong prices. Mix of smaller houses/town homes, 2-units. Many homes are taller so as to capture the view of the City’s skyline. Most valuable of the neighborhood. Precita Park/Bessie/Alabama/Folsom — Micro-Hot Area. Cute and charming park. Previously rough area now strong. Very desired because of location near freeways, park, Mission District. Houses are medium-sized with some modern stunners; yet fixers remain.

C. Peralta/Mullen — Very quiet, steep hills/narrow streets. Mix of old random bungalows and remodeled, chic homes. Some views, partial to full. Biggest price mix with some great done, done, done homes and fixers. Potentially amazing views.

D. Holladay — quiet activity, more removed and  eastern views but 101 is right below elevation; freeway noise. All houses were picked up and moved here in the 40s/50s/60s when freeway was built. Lower prices.

E. Midcentury edges. There’s a stillness here with freeway noise in the background. Almost desolate feel; steppe-like as area is removed from amenities. Eastern/Southern views. Houses starting to be renovate; irregular lots, potential steep hills.   

F. Banks Houses — looking to east, views yes but desolate feel. Houses are choppier and denser older stock on shorter parcels. New flippers increasing. Houses are choppier as you go downhill.

G. Powhattan/Close-to-Bernal Hill. Cute homes, some redone, many are not. Mixed. Cute/quiet neighborhood; with charm or quirkier. Close to Bernal Hill. Houses are denser together. Some houses will be pricey; others are fixers; eastern views if any.

H. Virginia, Fair and Prospect — close to Mission but quieter and tree-lined; curvy/steep streets. Cute. Some houses have been remodeled while others have not with potential views. Mix of prices.

J. Cortland Corridor ­  the main drag of area with cute neighborhood feel. More homes to have been remodeled recently but many haven’t so there’s a bigger mix, more dense. Some real stunners, gems and diamonds in the rough. North side of Cortland more valued than south side because of views and remodels.

I. Holly Park (Mixed) Cuteness — cute houses, many haven’t been remodeled yet depending on which part of circle you’re at. Quiet. Fixers will be in demand. Higher prices for done homes, but quality will depend. Housing project toward western part; fire station at Southwest corner.

K. Nevada/Ogden — a bit run-down, fewer homes have been remodeled but the ones that have been can be amazing. Cars on blocks south of Ogden, which can be mistook for a gravel path. Mediocre school. Mixed demand; more freeway noise.

L. Mission/St. Mary’s Park — Mixed feel. Close to Mission Street. Freeway noise from 280 nearer to Justin Street; can seems isolated/urban. Not too far from Alemany that wil also l lead to freeway. Lighter demand, lower prices; most urban of Bernal.

Richland/Crescent — Previously a rough neighborhood, the street is starting the process of gentrification with values starting to rise; housing project nearby.

Current MLS Sales Data:

The Skinny

The area is known for its single-family homes. For every condominium that was sold there were 4 single-family homes sold in 2015. Here are 2015 stats for District 9A from the MLS:

  • 176 single-family homes sold, average list price: $1.1709M, sale: $1.380M, 21 days on market at $944/sqft, ≈ 1500 sqft
  • 39 condominiums sold, average list price: $793K, sale: $933K, 35 days on market at $924/sqft, ≈ 1018 sqft
  • 27 2-4 unit buildings sold, average list price: $1.268M, sale: $1.362M, 28 days on market at $629/sqft
  • 2 5+ unit buildings
  • 3 vacant lots

LEARN MORE

Curbed SF’s Coverage of the Bernal Heights.

The area’s blog: Bernalwood.

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