Amid all of the economic uncertainty, real estate sales in our little village continue to thrive. Why is that?
I could talk about the inherent stability of the San Francisco real estate market, the concentration of single family homes in Bernal Heights…yada yada, but I’ve said that all before. Instead, I’ll just share my thoughts, as both a resident and real estate professional, as to why folks continue to choose Bernal Heights when shopping for a home.
Stereotyped as Noe Valley’s littler, less-expensive, “rougher-around-the-edges” sister, some perceive Bernal Heights to be a second choice neighborhood — if you want Noe but can’t afford it, look at Bernal. My experience suggests something different: Many, if not most, folks who buy a home in Bernal do so on purpose, because Bernal is their FIRST choice.
Just a couple of years ago (OK, maybe a few more) when I was a Wesleyan University student, I was often asked, “So, was Brown your first choice? You must not have gotten into Brown…Is that you chose Wesleyan?” Well, no, actually, I did not even apply to Brown! I wanted to go to Wesleyan. It was my first choice.
The cliche about Bernal being a haven for Noe rejects always reminds me of that experience. No offense to Noe Valley, which is a gorgeous, coveted neighborhood (and the location of my office and many of our home sales) but it’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges.
So, what do we like so much about Bernal? What makes it the first choice for so many home buyers? From my vantage point, it’s both Bernal’s diversity and “the urban village” vibe.
Bernal Heights is an old neighborhood, and you can feel that even today when you walk down Cortland Ave. And yet, it’s growing and changing. On my block, we have young families that are new to the ‘hood, as well as older residents who have been here for decades. The same is probably true on your street too. We have old homes, new homes, fancy homes, shabby-chic homes, and just shabby ones. All of us like the mix.
As for the “urban village;” Where else in San Francisco can you live in the middle of the City but still have that small-town feel? Bernal offers easy access to freeways and decent commute options, especially if you’re hearty and don’t mind walking or biking. On the north slope, BART and Caltrain access are very close by. The weather’s pretty nice by SF standards. We have parks and playgrounds for dogs and kiddies alike. We have a handful of cute shops and restaurants on our main drag, with enough to keep you fit, fed, cocktailed, and/or and caffeinated. (To use Todd’s lingo, let’s practice some YIMBYsm and continue to support our local merchants!)
A long time ago, Bernal Heights was a refuge — for the San Francisco residents after the 1906 earthquake — and I believe it remains so today. So, thank you very much, but no: We’re not Noe’ Vally’s less elegant, hippie sister. Bernal, in all its glory, is an urban hamlet, and the robust real estate market here proves it. See for yourself:
Bernal Heights Real Estate vs. San Francisco Citywide (past 90 days)
Single Family Homes
Bernal: (39 Sales) High – $1,275,000, Low – $380,000, Median – $675,000
All SF: (564 Sales) High – $8,500,000, Low – $120,000.00, Median – $725,000
Bernal: (8 Sales) High – $1,650,000, Low – $585,000, Median – $849,500
All SF: (473 Sales) High – $5,750,000, Low – $100,000.00, Median – $644,000
2-4 Unit Buildings
Bernal: (10 Sales) High – $1,000,000, Low – $440,000, Median – $716,500
All SF: (104 Sales) High – $3,995,000, Low – $166,000, Median – $946,000