Sunset District real estate sizzling more than any other SF neighborhood

The Sunset District may be losing its cool.

The oft-foggy locale has been named San Francisco’s hottest neighborhood for home-selling over asking price in a recent real estate market report.

Home appreciation in the Sunset-Parkside neighborhood rose
8 percent, compared to the first eight months of 2015, according to a report released by San Francisco-based Paragon Real Estate Group on Wednesday.

The report found that some 270 homes were sold so far this year and, for the second straight year, prices of homes sold have exceeded list prices by 20 percent, with the median price of homes sold at $1,239,000.

“I’ve never [before] been able to say that the Sunset is the hottest market in The City,” said Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst for the Paragon Real Estate Group.

The Sunset is not considered by its residents to be particularly edgy or trendy. The neighborhood, consisting primarily of single-family homes, has been a popular spot for families for decades. Bread-and-butter businesses, like grocery and hardware stores, offer a more small-town vibe.

Weather is also considered a less desirable aspect, as the area is part of the fog belt that often leads to overcast skies.

Yet, it appears rising demand for single-family homes with a yard has trumped the weather issue. Affordability is the chief factor cited for the neighborhood’s newfound popularity.

“Nobody is building [single-family] homes in The City,” Carlisle said. “Houses are becoming a rare commodity. The Sunset offers the greatest section of homes.”

Carlisle said no more than 10 new single-family homes were built in The City last year.

The trend of neighborhood transportation has also changed over the years. Two decades ago, for instance, more Sunset residents were reportedly traveling downtown for work.

However, with the advent of the technology giants like Apple, Google and Genentech located on the Peninsula, ready access to major highways leading south from the Sunset makes the area especially attractive today.

Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the Sunset, acknowledged the increasing challenge in affordability and has been working to keep families living in San Francisco.

“The Sunset District has been an attractive place for families to live for many generations,” Supervisor Katy Tang said in an email to the San Francisco Examiner. “Of course, the danger with rising house prices is that many families are not able to continue living in The City.”

Woody LaBounty of the Western Neighborhoods Project is a long-time historian of what was once known as “The Outside Lands,” which includes the Sunset. He said the neighborhood was first settled by Irish and Italians with their large families moving from the Mission District and other parts of The City in the 1920s. More recently, Asian residents have settled in the area.

The neighborhood decades ago was known for affordable, chock-a-block housing with a suburban-like feel. The Sunset’s easy access to Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park also drew artists, beach-enthusiasts and other bohemian-lifestyle lovers.

LaBounty noted the area’s reputation began changing from a Coney Island feel to a more upscale spot in the mid-2000s when several establishments opened featuring craft beers and finer cuisine.

“The Sunset District has always been an unappreciated jewel in San Francisco,” LaBounty said. “I think a lot of people are a little wary of the change. We want it to stay ‘the neighborhood.’ It has always been a neighborhood—not a trendy neighborhood. Most residents want it to stay that way.”

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