Advice on Areas Around San Francisco?

Asked by Danabnrml9, San Mateo, CA Tue Jul 15, 2008

I moved to the area about 4 months ago from Boston, and am currently selling my condo back home and hope to buy something new in the Bay Area. It will almost certainly be a condo as there's only two of us with no kids, and I don't particularly want to deal with lots of maintenance. I need some advice from the real estate community on areas that I should look, since there's sooo many areas that I don't even know how I'd go about choosing a Realtor yet.

Here are some of the specs:
-One of our commutes is to downtown SF
-One of our commutes is to Berkeley (UC)
-I THINK that our price range is going to fall between 400-600, but I realize that's a big spread. I don't have a pre-qual yet.
-Would like ~1000 sqft, 2 bed, but will settle for less in SF proper.
-Currently live in San Mateo, just renting

So far I've been looking at San Francisco proper, Daly City/South City, Northern Oakland/Emeryville, Walnut Creek, and Dublin. Any thoughts on pluses/minuses/safe investments?

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Greg Corvi, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Tue Jul 15, 2008
If "City Living" is for you, then South of Market area would be ideal for both commutes. There are a few other neighborhoods that might work, depending on your situation. Lake Merrit area in Oakland is nice, again if you want more of "city living" feel. Walnut Creek has BART for the S.F. commute and some of Berkeley. Condo market in Walnut Creek is pretty soft right now. You must like the heat, though! It sounds like you are looking at "BART" hubs. Dublin might be kind of far out depending on how much commute time you can tolerate. Regarding investment risk, during down times, areas closer to the main cities seem to hold up better...but even this can be inconsisitent, e.g. South City and Daly City. You really need to drive around, talk to locals and get more of a feel since you have not been here that long. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Good luck, this is a great place to live!
1 vote
Trulia Roger, Home Buyer, Alameda, CA
Thu Jul 17, 2008
Here are a whopping 85 Alameda listings in your price range.
1 vote
Trulia Roger, Home Buyer, Alameda, CA
Thu Jul 17, 2008
Have you been to Alameda? It's a beautiful little town very close to Berkeley. There are lots of beachside condos for sale in your price range. It's very walkable and might appeal to your East Coast sensibilities.

I personally wouldn't want the commute from Walnut Creek or Dublin.

Good luck!
1 vote
Peter Brunton, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Jul 17, 2008
Hi Dana,

Just my opinion, but I would highly consider the Ocean Side of Daly City. With all the foreclosures and short sales coming on the market you can truly start having mortgage payments that are nearly the same as renting (after tax savings). Realistically, in the next few months I think you are going to be able to find solid 2 bedroom homes, over 1000 sq. ft with views in the 400k range. In fact, you almost can now.

I know the weather sucks......but value wise I think it's a good bet.
1 vote
Rebecca White, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Tue Jul 15, 2008
Hey Dana,

My vote would be for North Oakland/Emeryville border. Right between SF and Berkeley. Easy commute to SF (I have a listing there so do it frequently and you can get what you want under $500,000.

If you don't mind a fixer, there are some great REO (foreclosure) deals around $300,000 and under--but these are single-family homes. For condos, I'd also check around Jack London/the Embarcadero, downtown and around Lake Merritt and Adams Point--as well as Emeryville. The newer places tend to be $500-600,000+.

Currently 33 condos in these areas (zip codes 94612, 94608, 94609, 94610, and 94606) meet your criteria. Some are even below $400,000. With so much selection and some great neighborhoods, I would suggest driving around to see what feels good to you.

Like Jed said, E-ville has great shopping, it's right across the bridge from SF and there is more than one way to get to Beserkeley.

If you really want SF, there are some short sales and REOs and good deals on newer condos south of Market/South Beach and some older condos in Civic Center and on Nob Hill as well as some brand-new ones on Sutter (2 locations) and Van Ness.

My two cents.

1 vote
Julia Murtagh, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Tue Jul 15, 2008
I work out in the Tri-Valley, Dublin, Pleasanton,and Danville.Area. This area is a very family orienteed area, with many options for Townhomes and Condos.The schools are fantastic, and it is centrally located in the Bay Area.You can find some great places in that price range.Beautiful new Condos in Dublin are under 500,000 right now. The schools are all really high scoring, great quality Public Schools. The Bart System runs through Pleasanton and Dublin, great option for those commutes. I was born in San Francisco, and have lived all over the Bay Area, know the areas very well. If you would like some help to navigate this process , please email or call me , I would be happy to help you out.

Julia Murtagh
C 925-997-2411
Web Reference:
1 vote
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Wed Jul 16, 2008
Very good info. Thanks. I think you might be happy with some neighborhoods in the City like Crocker Amazon or the Excelsior. Crocker Amazon is on the slope of San Bruno mountain and has some charming homes and very good views. The weather is better sometimes than western Daly City. Look at South San Francisco and Brisbane on the peninsula.
Beyond that I'd say look at Oakland in the north along the Berkeley border. I'm thinking Cambridge here. Also go north of Berkeley into El Cerrito, El Sobrante and parts of Richmond. You also might like the older areas of Vallejo, close to the water, ferry ride to the city and some charm. Vallejo will be on the upswing again although it is down right now. Check out the Glen Cove area also in Vallejo. I think that being from Boston and Providence proximity to the water is important to you and I don't think you'll like the Walnut Creek, Dublin interior heat feeling. Explore the east shore of the Bay. Actually from Fremont to Vallejo many, many neighborhoods and BART most of the way. San Lorenzo, San Leandro, parts of Newark and Union City could work also. Be sure to look at Alemeda and Harbor Bay Isle too.
Take a Bay Area map and explore the areas south of the Bay bridge and west of the 880 first then come back along the BART tracks in Hayward and southern Oakland. Next time do the same going north. San Pablo Blvd runs parralel to the 80. Get some local advice on Richmond some areas are rough but many are family and wonderful. Look at Albany, El Sobrante, Crocket and Port Costa too. Be sure to look ar Point Richmond, right where the San Rafael bridge makes it's landing on the east shore.
Hope your not screaming TMI but there are many wonderful neighborhoods around the Bay and I happen to have spent much time going into homes in the all these places.
ps my daughter is at Boston University now so I've been crawling all over Boston lately.
0 votes
Danabnrml9, Home Buyer, San Mateo, CA
Tue Jul 15, 2008
Some more info:

I actually lived in suburban Boston, less than 10 minutes north of the city. That was mainly because Boston is also an expensive city, and being my first place it was all that I could afford that was decent-quality. I do enjoy having nice-ish amenities, such as a modern living space, and I will need parking for at least one car.

However, if I were to move back to Boston today--when I have a bit more money, and some equity in my old place to spend--I'd probably live in Cambridge, for the proximity to great restaurants, walkable areas, bars, and a great, relaxed city feel.

Basically, what appeals to me about the areas I mentioned earlier:
-San Francisco - Obviously, it's the city--you're close to everything. I'd sacrifice a bit on space and some other things if I could afford a reasonably nice place that's close to everything. So far I've liked some things in the Mission, Castro, SOMA, and Diamond Heights areas. These would also be the closest to my friends.
- Berkeley/Emeryville/Oakland - I grew up in Rhode Island, and have a deep love for Providence. The way that it's been an emerging city for the past 10-15 years is truly inspiring, and I get some of the same sense out of parts of Oakland. It's still trying to define itself and changing, and I can see a lot of potential there, plus it's still near the city and works for both of our commutes.
- Daly City/South City - Really just like this because its' very near the city and has basic amenities like shopping, plus a lot of cheaper inventory. Moving here would basically be a lateral move from what I have in Boston, but truly great properties here still cost a pretty penny. I hate the weather.
- Walnut Creek - I like that it has a great downtown and is on BART, yet we could afford a nice property. Not sure about how isolated I'd feel that far out, though, and its a bit too hot.
- Dublin - some of the same criticisms about Walnut Creek, but I do like that there seems to be a wealth of nice, new properties that would be a significant step-up in quality, plus it's located on BART. Downtown Pleasanton is cute enough that I don't feel the area is *too* suburban. I don't fundamentally mind suburbia, but I want to be convenient enough to the real cities and some satelite downtowns.
0 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Tue Jul 15, 2008
If you're moving here from Boston tell us where you lived in Boston and what you liked about it. That will help us narrow down your choices. Also what do you think San Mateo? Are you in the downtown area or closer to San Carlos.
I live and work in SF and think that there are very few places that can compare with SF but Boston is one of them. Easy walkiing great food and amenities. Oakland is a possibility and so is Berkeley. Daly City is a bedroom community, Emmeryville has great shoppiing, Walnut Creek has some city coming along and Dublin is bedroom.
As far as future stability nothing will beat SF proper. Limited space and world class city keeps demand high.
0 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Tue Jul 15, 2008
Hi Danabnrml9:

I have one great property for you - almost fit right into your requirement (a bit higher but what a location and house)

Spinnaker Point, San Rafael, Marin County. Very close to intersection of 580 (to east bay) and 101 (to S.F.). Both bring to within 30 minutes driving time.

Here is a map of Spinnker Point, S.R.…

Here is the property -…

And if you are willing to drive a bit north to Novato, we have a lot of townhomes or even small houses that fit your criteria...…

Click on the see map for location.

You can also go to my website and check out Marin County.

0 votes
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