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The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau indicated that $248,000 was the average price for a home in the U.S. Let's take a current snapshot of prices in San Francisco to determine what that might buy in the Golden City by the Bay.
San Francisco is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water, so prices hold fairly firm in such a well-defined geographical area. In our seven-by-seven square miles, some 800,000 residents are packed in more densely than in any American city besides New York. The city is the focal point of the San Francisco Bay Area, home to over seven million, including Oakland and the East Bay, Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as Silicon Valley and San Jose further south in the peninsula. With its Mediterranean climate and natural beauty, San Francisco is a top visitor destination called "everybody's favorite city."
But, the price of living here is as steep as the hills, I discovered when looking to relocate from London last year. Realtors explain San Francisco has 89 distinct neighborhoods, where prices can vary as much as the micro-climates that distinguish each area. How confusing for newcomers to learn that streets only a few minutes' walk apart can typically experience different weather patterns. Whether you are more suited to a shady valley or a sunny slope, there are very few houses at $250,000. A recent search found only eight San Francisco properties listed in this price range. These are mostly one bedroom condominiums of slightly over 1,000 square feet and two small houses. All of the listings were short sales. A parking space is considered icing on the cake.
I met Ildiko Pali of Princeton Real Estate, a San Francisco-based short sale expert since 1995, who explained, "With the right professional advice, a short sale can certainly be a win-win for a first-time buyer or an investor."
A wider angle
Looking beyond San Francisco into the more affordable locations around the Bay Area, Ildiko pointed out that a very happy client recently purchased a beautiful Victorian house with garden for $280,000 in Oakland, which is linked to San Francisco by BART trains and has its own airport . However, some ZIP codes outside the city are even pricier than San Francisco itself. Atherton in Silicon Valley ranks second wealthiest in the U.S., with an average house price of over $4 million.
- San Francisco