North of Panhandle (NOPA), Hayes Valley, Alamo Square, Anza Vista, Western Addition, Lower Pacific Heights, Anza Vista
Right between Mission Dolores/Castro and Pacific Heights (two of the most actively traded and valued areas of the City) sits MLS District 6, which is a crossroads of sorts both figuratively and literally. District 6 includes Hayes Valley, NoPa and Lower Pacific Heights among more. The area is criss-crossed by major thoroughfares that bring people east to west as well as north to south across San Francisco (Van Ness, Gough, Franklin, Oak and Fell). This area used to be the western most part of the City (hence the ‘Western Addition’ moniker some parts of the district has) but now sits in the middle of course thanks to 100+ years of growth. There’s such a mix of people and property here that you’re bound to find something here you’ll like whether it’s modern condominium building (there are plenty), historic Victorians (fixer or completely redone) to drab Mid-Century apartment buildings. The area can be gritty and narrow or modern and wide and everything in between.
Hayes Valley. Up until a decade ago Hayes Valley was under the last part of the Central Freeway which made it dark and dingy. But after urban renewal efforts the area has become vibrant and has transformed radically going from gritty to hipster in an blink of an eye. Social life, shopping and dining is focused on Hayes Street with increasing overflow onto Gough Street. The area’s proximity to the Symphony, Opera and Civic Center naturally predisposed to drawing lots of people. All this growth has brought more cars and traffic but the area generally flows well despite being the main link to 101 for the western half of the City. Architecturally, there’s a mix of new condo buildings ranging from the cool and sleek feel of 8 Octavia, 450 Hayes and 400 Grove, the more approachable design at 580 Hayes, 300 Ivy and most accessible mid-2000s building called, aptly, the Hayes, at 55 Page Street. More micro-units are in the pipeline along Octavia and many of the newly built units built since 2013 have been rolled out as rental buildings (the Avalon ones for example). You may think that these bigger buildings would dwarf older ones but they don’t as the way buildings were constructed in the area (along slopes or built on a higher podium) have a sense of scale and volume that combine with older trees to give the area a more established feel. Most older properties you’re likely to encounter here are the Victorian flats (some updated, some not) with the charm of double-parlors, the occasional grand-scale Victorian/Edwardian single family house that stretches back onto one of the many small alleys that dot the area that served as alleys for carriage houses (and now garages). Many of the bigger modern structures here will have garage parking while many other older structures will have a separate garage facing out onto one of those alleyways we talked about but those alleys too (named after flowers) are being built up with single-family houses springing up over their carriage house roots. As the density of the area increases so does car, shuttle and bike traffic.
The Panhandle & NoPa (North of Panhandle), Alamo Square, Western Addition. Two major thoroughfares, Oak and Fell Streets, define the area. This area is filled with wood-floored, single-pane window Edwardian buildings with many that have been split up into condos with decently tall ceilings, plaster walls, and split bathrooms. The ones that have been restored may be TICs for a while before converting into condos, renovations of big houses can be stunning, expensive and more traditional: think Restoration Hardware while others can be victorian on the outside but ultra-modern on the inside. Parking tends to be tandem or squeezed into low-clearance garages unless steel beams were added. For investment buyers, there are large apartment buildings that occasionally come onto the market (usually filled with tenants) or, in some cases, a vacant two- or three-unit fixer will come onto the market.
The Haight. While technically in District, it’s worth noting that this area mirrors NoPa a great deal except for there are more trees and parks. Famous for the summer of love and hippies it’s more filled with techies and yuppies than before. There are lots of rental flats in carved up Victorians, big houses and condos. The lots in the area tend to be deeper and , in some cases, wider, which leads to grand houses, multi-unit buildings or mixed use ones too. Some properties have been renovated while many are fixers. Caution should be used with tenant issues, condo/TIC issues and historic issues if you’re planning on remodeling.