Noe Valley Voice June 2005

The Cost of Living in Noe

By Corrie M. Anders

Anyone who has contemplated buying a house in yupscale Noe Valley is well aware that 94114 is one of the priciest ZIP codes in town. Now, no less than Forbes magazine has conferred elite status on our Victorian-studded neighborhood. In an online report that went live April 26, the business magazine deemed Noe Valley one of the 150 ritziest places in the country.

Forbes combed through all the nation's ZIP codes to uncover which had the most expensive homes last year (based on the median sales price). Five San Francisco ZIP codes made the cut, including 94114, which also embraces the wealthy Castro District. The magazine calculated that the typical house in 94114 cost $915,812 in 2004.

Of course, the average price is even higher today. Data supplied to the Voice by Zephyr Real Estate reveals that affluent buyers purchased a dozen single-family homes in Noe Valley in April--and nearly all of them cost more than $1 million (see chart).

For the record, the Forbes study showed that Noe Valley had the third costliest housing ZIP code in San Francisco (90th nationally). The Marina District's 94123 ranked number one in the city (37th nationally), with homes costing a median $1,183,307. Presidio Heights and the Inner Richmond's 94118 grabbed second place (82nd nationally) at $932,660.

It cost more to live in third-place Noe Valley than in several other ZIP codes with chic addresses. Buyers paid a median $824,474 to live in the 94127 axis of St. Francis Wood, Miraloma, and West Portal. The price was fourth highest in the city (133rd nationally) while it cost $810,658 to take up residence in the fifth place (139th nationally) Outer Richmond/Sea Cliff 94121 ZIP code.

A major surprise was that several toney San Francisco neighborhoods, such as mansionesque Pacific Heights, failed to reach the top 150. (Its ZIP includes some less expensive turf.) The No. 1 ZIP code in the entire country was 94027 in Atherton, Calif. The '04 median home price was $2,496,553.

Down-to-Earth Charm

Noe Valley likes to think of itself as a hip but unpretentious urban village, a world removed from the blue-blood reserve of the city's northern domain. Ironically, that down-to-earth charm is helping to keep home prices perking in the neighborhood.

Buyers paid on average 16 percent more than the asking price in April, according to the numbers collected by Zephyr. The overbids helped push the average sales price for the 12 homes to $1,188,625.

"All but two of the 12 were over $1 million, and they were very close to $1 million," said Randall Kostick, sales manager at Zephyr's 24th Street office. "One day soon, we may see every single home in Noe Valley exceeding $1 million."

April's most expensive detached home nearly cracked the $2 million barrier. The $1,855,000 property, located in the 200 block of 27th Street between Dolores and Church, had four bedrooms and three baths.

These 12 transactions were less than half the 23 homes sold in April one year ago. Kostick said the smaller number of deals may simply have been a statistical anomaly.

"There are plenty of buyers out there," he said. "Every reasonably priced property that comes on the market is being sold."

Nine condominiums closed escrow in April, equaling the number of condo sales last April. Buyers paid 19 percent more than the asking price for the attached homes, which averaged nearly $862,000. The most expensive condo sold in April was located in the 4800 block of 25th Street. It cost $1.2 million.

Noe Valley Home Sales*
Total Sales Low Price ($) High Price ($) Average Price ($) Average Days
on Market
Sale Price as
% of List Price
Single-family homes
April 2005 12 $900,000 $1,855,000 $1,188,625 22 116%
March 2005 16 $831,000 $2,662,000 $1,569,000 26 108%
April 2004 23 $715,000 $1,625,000 $1,083,522 34 115%
April 2005 9 $675,000 $1,200,000 $861,889 27 119%
March 2005 7 $695,000 $1,351,500 $947,786 21 116%
April 2004 9 $525,000 $1,040,000 $738,556 34 112%
2 to 4 unit buildings
April 2005 2 $1,195,000 $1,218,000 $1,206,500 37 101%
March 2005 8 $1,175,000 $2,099,000 $1,444,250 35 108%
April 2004 5 $895,000 $1,165,000 $991,800 45 107%
5+ unit buildings
April 2005 0 - - - - -
March 2005 1 $1,530,000 $1,530,000 $1,530,000 24 99%
April 2004 2 $1,129,000 $1,405,000 $1,267,000 108 107%

*Information provided to the Noe Valley Voice courtesy of Zephyr Real Estate ( and based on all Noe Valley home sales (escrow closings) recorded during the month. "Noe Valley" in this survey is defined as the area bordered by Grand View, 22nd, Guerrero, and 30th streets.

Noe Valley Rents**
Type of Unit Number in Sample Range of Rents, May 2005 Average Rent, May 2005 Average Rent, April 2005
Studio 3 $1050-$1150 $1092 $1030
1 bedroom 11 $1050-$2495 $1489 $1472
2 bedrooms 10 $1910-$2900 $2286 $1874
3 bedrooms 6 $2194-$4945 $3147 $2750
4 bedrooms 0 - - $5000

**These rent averages are based on a sample of 30 Noe Valley rental listings appearing on on May 24-26, 2005. The previous sample, published in the March Voice, was collected April 18-19.