College Students, Golfers, Fog, Cars and Surprise are the Hallmarks of San Francisco’s Southwest neighborhoods that is anchored by Lake Merced, the Stonestown Mall and SF State University.
Ingleside Terrace & Heights. The Ingleside area is focused around a big sloping hill that ends up at SF State and Stonestown on one end, I-280 on the other and St. Francis Wood/Portola on the other. The housing stock is mixed and tended to be more shabby than other parts of the city — think: Sunset-style, Spanish-Med, Craft-style houses with bars-over-the-windows and gates-over-the-door vibe. It used to be ensconced in fog and covered with clouds. But thanks to global climate change, price growth elsewhere and a revitalization of Ocean Avenue (there’s a Whole Foods there now. A Whole Foods!) the area is gentrifying with rising prices and bars coming off the windows and gates being flung open permanently. Many houses have been carved up into rental units or rooms to SF State students and/or houses will have finished in-law units to also tap into the rental pool.
The Lakeshore area around the eastern side of Lake Merced and was one the last neighborhoods in the City to be developed. Most real estate activity primarily rooted in the 1970s, gated condo development called Lake Merced Hills that’s surrounded by trees and accessed through a single road complete with guard checkpoint. The housing stock is larger but very 1970s and comes with parking, as you’ll need it out here. Lakeside is tucked behind San Francisco State University, 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard. A tidy, compact and clean neighborhood characterized by houses sandwiched in white picket fences, window shutters and rose gardens behind double-pane glass if you’re lucky given all the traffic in the area. Despite its name, it is not beside a lake.
Merced Heights and Oceanview are areas many San Franciscans have no idea about. The houses are utilitarian and functional, although there is a rec center in the area. Given the proximity to BART rails, MUNI tracks and 280 there’s a functional vibe already built in. Houses are mainly the Sunset-style, tunnel-entry houses with in-law units rented to students or families in other cases and are, on average, more affordable.
Pine Lake Park, adjacent to Stern Grove, is known for its Parkside-like homes (District 2) with higher prices because of enlarged footprints and layouts. Be prepared to bid strongly if you want extra rooms for the kids and a yard but also be prepared to focus on those priorities as there’s not a whole lot to do once you get home around here without a car. And despite global climate changes there’s still a fair amount of fog that comes and visits you.
Stonestown. This district is named after the Stonestown Galleria (aka Mall). Focused around the Mall, SF State and 19th Avenue, the fewer homes in this area were built starting in the 1940s and it was hard to tell properties for sale from dorms. The architectural style here was mainly Post-war contemporary. At least this was the case until a new batch of 182 new townhomes built on a big 7.7-acre parcel just south of the soon-to-be knocked-down Lake Merced complex known as 800 Summit came onto the market in 2014 after years of effort to put the area to use. The 800 Summit condos were built starting in 2014 and are the most suburban condo-complex experience you see in San Francisco complete with sales center, design center and floor plan options with upgrade options galore. The experiment went well as most of the development was sold before units were completed.
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