Buying in Marina -- earthquake risk impact on prices?

Asked by Sami, San Francisco, CA Fri May 11, 2007

I've been considering buying in the Marina area in San Francisco, but several people have mentioned "that's the last neighborhood to BUY -- if there's an earthquake, you'll certainly loose your property". Can't I hedge (insurance?) against this risk and is this a real concern from an ownership perspective thus favoring renting in Marina?

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Keith, , Berkeley, CA
Fri May 11, 2007
The Marina was hit hard in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake b/c it's built on landfill, which is prone to liquefaction during quakes. According to USGS, the Bay Area is already at a 67% chance of a major quake within the next 30 years on one of its major fault zones. Add the liquefaction matter into the equation and I would be mindful of that when considering the Marina (especially given the sky-high prices and in spite of the beautiful scenery/location). In fact, the SF Chron outlined a study describing a nightmarish scenario for SF housing if a 7.2 quake hits (go to sfgate and do a search for "Grim forecast sees housing in tatters after major S.F. quake" article). The article doesn't even mention the Marina, but it would surely be severely affected b/c of the landfill issue (evidenced by the '89 quake). The study says at least 30k homes would be decimated. Then again... if a really big one hits, no homes in any neighborhood will necessarily be safe from significant damage (even in quake-aware Japan, many of the supposedly quake-engineered structures in Kobe collapsed during a large quake). Happy reading!
4 votes
Mario Pinedo,…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Sat Jul 21, 2007
We've been watching the Marina for TICs and condos recently and prices are very strong, as I am sure you're aware. I would definitely have earthquake insurance there or in any other neighborhood. The Marina is expensive because of its beauty, location and wonderful retail offerings. Yes, another earthquake could affect the area, although realistically not within your ownership timeframe - if the averages hold true. Also many homes that suffered major damage have been retrofitted to withstand more shaking. The whole of SF has gone through retrofitting UMB - unreinforced masonry buildings - which suffered the most in '89. Best of luck on your decision and new home. Hopefully we'll run into each other on Chestnut!
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