Clara, Home Buyer in Syracuse, NY

Looking for house in the SF peninsula area: How do I know if the house I am buying or renting is close or

Asked by Clara, Syracuse, NY Sat Oct 27, 2007

Looking for house in the SF peninsula area: How do I know if the house is located on an earthquake or close to a fault?

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When renting, it's a bit more difficult. When buying, it's pretty straightforward. The seller is required to provide geological survey data that will tell you exactly which types of hazards you may encounter. Typically this information is provided by a geological survey company.

This being the Bay Area, of course, you're never really that far from an earthquake or fault line.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 27, 2007
In addition to all of the previous answers, I want to also add that the fault lines are only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to earthquake safety. Sometimes your proximity to a fault is less important than whether you are sitting on landfill and/or whether your foundation has been made earthquake safe. However, contact the U.S. Geological Survey for fault information.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 31, 2007
I suggest you use the excellent tool available through Google earth, which maps the Hayward fault, San Andreas Fault, etc. You can literally see what houses are directly on the quake. You can also do mapping/driving/distance from points on the fault to any driving point (e.g. 2900 Mission Blvd, Hayward, CA). You have to download Google Earth.

As someone else stated, you should also be concerned about flood zoning and the quality of the ground below your house. E.g. the land under much of San Francisco is more prone to liquification in comparison a house on bedrock in Livermore because much of SF is landfill. Just the other day they talked about this on the local news, such as how the land under the million dollar homes in Moraga is like slush. I am like you, trying to find a place that has minimal hazards is difficult in the bay area.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 31, 2007
It's important to define what you are comfortable as "close". When you look at fault maps of the Bay Area, the defined zone could be as narrow as 1000 feet wide. If you rely solely on an NHD report for your research, you could unknowingly be living 700 feet from the San Andreas Fault and not realize it.

Also, many NHD companies only review state maps and don't consider local maps in preparing their reports. Typically these are the less expensive reports. On the peninsula there are faults such as the Serra Fault and Monte Vista Fault that are not considered active (generally faults that have not ruptured within the past 11,000 years), but are considered potentially active. These faults are not included on state maps which only show active faults. Ute used the term "rated." Faults are usually rated as either active, potentially active, or inactive. The fault that runs through Auburn is considered potentially active and is mapped on Placer County Engineering Geologic Maps yet not on State Earthquake Fault Zone Maps.

If that's not enough to ponder, you should also be evaulating related hazards such as landslide potential, liquefaction, flooding, fire and even tsunami inundation when moving to the Bay Area.

A great site to research hazards in the Bay Area is Click "Environment" and "Earthquake Maps" and there are plenty of sources of information on seismic hazards in our area.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 30, 2007
I am a Realtor in San Francisco and all the information about the NHD reports are correct. I would also say preparedness is something that you can do if you are worried about living in earthquake country. After the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in Southern California I took training from our Fire Department to become an emergency responder and now I head up my neighborhood response team.
As a native San Franciscan, ex-carpenter and construction superintendent I can tell you that our buildings are built with full knowledge that the earth can move.
Remember that there are things that happen everywhere. Tornados, hurricanes, floods, fires etc. Be prepared to deal with what happens in your area and equip yourself with the knowledge needed to survive for the time right after the event. The priorities are to take care of yourself, then your family and then your neighbors.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 28, 2007
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Hello Clara. I see you removed your earlier question as it indicated that you were in Ohio. I am glad you clarified that you were looking in the S.F. peninsula. So I am reposting my answer here.

When you buy a property in CA you'll get something called the Natural Hazard Disclosure Report ("NHD") which will show whether the property is located on or near a known earth quake fault. There are different kinds of earthquake faults. There are those that have already been rated and there are others that are only known but have not yet been rated. Chances are that you'll be either on or near an earthquake fault in the in CA. I work in Auburn CA which is not known for earthquake activity, but there's an earthquake fault that runs right through Auburn. It has not been rated, but it's still there.

You'll have a 3-day right of rescission after receiving the report. Thus, if you were to receive the report after the inspection period, you'd still have the right to rescind.

When you rent a place in CA, I think you'll have to probably buy the report yourself (cost anywhere from approx. $40 - $100 depending on which company you use), but you can also inquire with the county as I am sure they have pertinent information about earthquakes.
Best regards,
Ute Ferdig
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 27, 2007
Ute Ferdig -…, Real Estate Pro in Newcastle, CA
Hella Clara:

Check out this Nothern Callifornia Interactive County Map for the earthquake zones.

As kevin said, as long as you are in California, especially in the Bay Area, you are not too far away fron earthquake faults. I am sitting in between two faults - Roger Creek and San Andrea Faults.

The main thing is to be earthquake ready, including making sure your house is earthquake proof (from reinforced, bolted foundation to making sure all the pictures on the wall and certain glassware or displays are protected when the earth shakes -

A few companies in town prepare Natural Hazard Report with local information; a low cost way to find out.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 27, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
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