Real Estate Today

A neighborhood in transition

Victorians are finding new life in the Mission photo: Carole Isaacs

Those who live on the north side of San Francisco can be a bit provincial at times, myself included. We have everything we need right in our own neighborhood. There is no question we live as close to heaven as you can get as a city dweller, but it’s no excuse for not exploring other neighborhoods, especially when it comes to shopping for real estate.

A Marina resident may shop on Clement Street or go to the beach in the Sunset, but a trip to the Mission 15 minutes away by car (on a good traffic day) still may feel like a foreign adventure.
Now you are thinking, “Why is she writing about the Mission in the Marina Times?” Before reading further, you should know that Forbes magazine voted the Mission the second hippest neighborhood in the country, losing out by a hair to Silver Lake in Los Angeles.

As a real estate agent, exploring the city is absolutely necessary. Unless you are one of the lucky few with an unlimited budget, home buyers and real estate investors must expand their search throughout San Francisco. Corporate shuttles now enable buyers to easily commute from just about any neighborhood in the city. It is not unusual to find that as buyers are priced out of one neighborhood, they will move their search to another neighborhood, impatient to find a home
and settle down.

The Mission being labeled the second hippest neighborhood in the country was no surprise to the legions of young people who gravitate to this lively area. In recent months the Mission has become a neighborhood deserving serious attention from buyers hoping to stay in San Francisco.

Throughout San Francisco, there is an extraordinarily low inventory of homes for sale. Searching the MLS for single-family homes in the North Beach, Marina and Cow Hollow neighborhoods last month, I found just one (with an asking price of $4,499,000).

Searching the MLS for single-family homes in the Mission, I found three for sale. Admittedly, this is not a very big number, but still three times as many as northern neighborhoods and, by San Francisco standards, quite affordable. The lowest priced home, at $499,000, possibly had a protected tenant, a factor that will reduce the value of a home by 25 percent or more. The second home, listed at $799,000 was tenant occupied, again causing a reduction in price. The most expensive of the three, at $879,000, was vacant. It is important to note here that these are asking prices, and multiple offers – often over asking price – have become common
in the Mission.
Out of 21 sales in the Mission in the past five months, 16 were with cash, closing escrow in less than 30 days with selling prices between $382,000 and $2,935,000. Wow! The corporate shuttle byproduct has clearly spilled into the Mission, and seeing the rise in real estate prices makes it clear that byproduct is money.

The Marina, North Beach and Cow Hollow do not want for shops and restaurants, but it is worth spending an afternoon strolling the length of Valencia Street for amusement or for investigating possible real estate opportunities. If you have not been in the Mission neighborhood recently, or maybe never, I have no doubt that you will be surprised at what you find.

There are interesting restaurants, boutiques and clothing shops throughout the Mission and many have conveniently placed bike racks. Bikes are everywhere in San Francisco, but it is possible to feel a bit out of place if you don’t park a bike outside of the Mission restaurant where you are having lunch. The streets of the district are flat, making this a bikers’ paradise.

Between Mission and Potrero Streets, 24th Street remains the Hispanic shopping area, and new restaurants and shops are evident here as well. Ice cream is especially big these days in San Francisco, and you will find some of the best on 24th. Humphry Slocombe has joined the Zagat-rated Saint Francis Fountain, a landmark at the corner of 24th Street and York. One thing that hasn’t changed on 24th is the fresh hot tortillas for sale by the dozen, something that cannot be found anywhere else in San Francisco.

Rising real estate prices in the Mission have brought a construction boom and, as in the north end of town, prosperity is evident. The Mission is known for its beautiful Victorians and, as the neighborhood becomes gentrified, these have taken on a dynamic new life. In many ways, the Mission today feels like Fillmore Street and Lower Pacific Heights 35 or 40 years ago. The difference is, instead of changing slowly over many years, the Mission is on a fast track, changing right before our eyes.

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Carole Isaacs is a Realtor with McGuire Real Estate, a photographer, and lover of all things San Francisco. Visit her online at or call 415-608-1267.