Real Estate

So many reasons to love San Francisco

San francisco was recently ranked number two among top-performing real estate markets in the country. In fact, California dominated the top 20 list, with 11 markets in our state being named. It actually surprised me to see that Vallejo was ranked the number one market, ahead of San Francisco — but that city has been making quite a comeback from the recession.

Other top real estate markets in California include Stockton, San Diego, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Modesto, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Eureka, and Los Angeles. Other cities on the list from elsewhere around the country are Dallas, Denver, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Detroit, Kennewick, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Boston. Quite an eclectic bunch of cities.

What defines a top performer? Well, (the National Association of Realtors website) identified the hottest markets by factoring in which ones had the most views per listing and the quickest inventory movement. In these markets, homes are selling 20-38 days faster than they are in the rest of the nation.

That said, the number of homes sold in San Francisco tends to tail off a bit in August. We are not as seasonal as other markets: Terribly cold snowstorms in winter and stifling hot summers in other parts of the country put a damper on sales. However, some seasonal differences do exist for us in terms of sales volume. Sales tend to taper off a bit in July and August, and then again in December, January, and February.

What’s more, in midsummer we saw slower sales in part because of some economic uncertainty. Perhaps due to stock market volatility, wealthy buyers aren’t quite as eager to purchase San Francisco’s more high-end homes. Foreign buyers appear to be pulling back a bit as well because of reduced purchasing power caused by the U.K.’s Brexit vote and new regulations instituted by China. Finally, the technology sector, while still doing well, has softened: Venture capital has become less available, the IPO market has stalled, and some smaller startups are beginning to lay off workers.

Even so, while our local real estate market is maybe not as hot as it once was, it continues to rank among the hottest markets in the country — thanks in large measure to still-red-hot sales of single family homes in the $1–$2 million range. Of course, there’s more to love about the city than its strong real estate market.

San Francisco also made the top 10 green cities list in the United States. Yes, we are green not only because we recycle, but primarily because 19 percent of San Francisco is covered with parks. This makes our beautiful city even more beautiful and a paradise for nature lovers. I really enjoy seeing people walking, biking, jogging, wind surfing, kite surfing, and of course traditional surfing in our nature-filled — and nature-surrounded — city.

Let’s look at Golden Gate Park, specifically. A herd of buffaloes lives there! How rare and unbelievably great is that? The famous Bay to Breakers annual race runs through the park on its way from the bay to Ocean Beach. Golden Gate Park also offers world-class museums, the California Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Arboretum, formal botanical gardens, and much, much more.

More than 80 percent of America’s population now lives in cities. Why? Mainly because that is where the bulk of the jobs are. The CBS news program 60 Minutes recently aired a report about the surge in the creation of city parks across the country. One example they showcased is the High Line in New York City. It’s an old elevated rail line turned into a park and walking path. People are clamoring for all that urban life has to offer, yet they want nature at their doorstep. Fortunately for us, San Francisco provides us with the best of both worlds.

We have world-class restaurants (including an abundance of farm-to-table choices), theater, ballet, symphony, music venues, beauty, world-renowned destinations, and our beautiful bay and parks. San Francisco’s real estate market continues to rank among the best performing markets in the country, but the economy will inevitably have its ups and downs. Our city’s amenities and attractions are more constant, contribute immeasurably to the popularity of our city, and add to the value of our real estate.

With all this, what is not to love about San Francisco? It is a wonderful place to live, relax, and enjoy homeownership.


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Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at