I love that East Coast favorite Cottages & Gardens Magazine has come to the Bay Area and brought their real estate inside scoop column Deeds and Dont’s!
You can see the magazine online at:
Walkable San Francisco Neighborhoods
The inside scoop on Bay Area real estate
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LUXURY THESE DAYS? We’re hearing over and over again from top Realtors in the area that it’s all about walkability. “It’s a return to the village,” explains Janet Feinberg Schindler with Sotheby’s in San Francisco. “People really want to be within a few blocks so they can walk to coffee.” In San Francisco, one of the most desirable areas is Pacific Heights near Alta Plaza; it’s reasonably flat and close to all the numerous delights of Fillmore Street, which include the gourmet outposts Delfina and SPQR. Meanwhile, Sea Cliff, which boasts impressive ocean views and splendid estates, also has a lot of steep streets and a dearth of restaurants, making it a somewhat harder sell.
To help determine walkability for a given house, Ira Serkes, with Pacific Union/Christie’s in Berkeley, has it down to a science. In addition to a house’s Walk Score, he also figures out the elevation gain for a typical route around the house, which might include a stop at the French Hotel for coffee and the Cheese Board for bread and pastries. He uses an exercise app called RunKeeper (see sidebar, right) to calculate the change in grade. “I like to see a Walk Score of 80 or more and an elevation gain of no more than a couple hundred feet,” says Serkes.
Further north, Ross, in Marin County, is hugely popular with families because of the small-town atmosphere that’s coupled with exceptional public schools. “It’s the kind of place where kids can bike to town, and Eddie’s—the local grocery store—still has charge accounts,” says Carey Hagglund Condy with Pacific Union/Christie’s in Marin. She handled the second-biggest sale in the county last year, a $15 million traditional home with park-like acreage in Ross; one of the big attractions was that it was “dead flat and within walking distance to everything, while offering complete privacy,” according to Condy.
In Wine Country, Sonoma still has its original charm, but sports amenities that are on a par with those in the city, which is a mere 50 minutes away. A key calculation for any property here is its distance from the historic central plaza, featuring eateries such as the popular Cafe La Haye and Basque Boulangerie. “At the east end of town,” according to Donald Van de Mark with Sotheby’s in Sonoma, “you can walk to the plaza and take part in town activities without getting in the car, which is quite a rarity.”