Noe Valley is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in San Francisco and consequently one of the hardest to buy into. The combination of its core attributes is attractive to a powerful and sizable demographic. This has created a consistent imbalance in supply and demand that usually favors the seller and has kept inventory low and prices high, despite the broader real estate recession. Here is a summary of the key drivers of Noe Valley demand:
- An excellent central location for commuting to Silicon Valley and downtown San Francisco. This is particularly interesting to many professional couples where one person commutes one way and one goes the other
- A housing stock of desirable single family homes and condos
- A price point that, while by no means inexpensive, is affordable by many high-income families
- A desirable urban environment featuring many attractive shops and restaurants that are within walking distance from most parts of the neighborhood
- Great weather and a great community of like-minded, high functioning professionals
Noe Valley is often frustrating for buyers because of a gap between “normal” expectations and supply-side reality. When spending close to $1 million for an entry level property and closer to $1.5 million for a property beyond the entry level, one naturally has high expectations for the size, condition and quality of a property. The problem is a lack of supply.
Noe Valley is a sunny and relatively warm part of the city because it sits in the lee of Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks and Mount Sutro, which pevent fog from the Pacific Ocean from rolling in most of the time. This happens often during the summer months, when the western neighborhoods will be ten degrees cooler and can go weeks without seeing the sun.
The main retail and dining area in Noe Valley is along 24th Street from Diamond to Church. There are also restaurants and shops along Church from 24th to 30th but the retail density is much lower than it is along 24th Street. There is a street car that runs up Church Street that becomes an underground subway and then runs straight down town. It is a surface line though all of Noe Valley and Mission Dolores until it crosses Market Street and goes underground at Duboce Triangle. This link will normally get people to the financial district in 20-25 minutes, even during rush hour.
While Noe Valley is expensive by almost any standard, it is considerably less expensive than Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, St. Francis Wood and several other top neighborhoods in the city. As crazy as it sounds, Noe Valley is practical because it is at the bottom of the high-end neighborhoods and offers many important amenities to a financially powerful demographic.