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The Sunset District is San Francisco's hottest neighborhood, says report

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Workhorse neighborhood’s time to shine at last?

Almost every neighborhood in San Francisco has been the "hottest new neighborhood" at least once. But there are still a few odd neighborhoods out: the Sunset District, for example.

Indeed, that’s basically the entire point of the city’s west side, to be the place where families, immigrants, and working people who can’t swing the rents and mortgages in more in-demand districts can find a home of their own.

But according to a new report by Paragon Real Estate, that may change. As they have it, the Sunset (and neighboring Parkside) are already heating up.

"Yes, I was surprised," Paragon chief analyst Patrick Carlisle told Curbed SF. "But I used five metrics and the Sunset came out number one or at least in the top three every time."

For example, sifting through MLS data, Carlisle says that while the number of sales that beat the initial asking has declined citywide in the last year, it’s mostly flat in the Sunset, which now leads in bidding wars.

Similarly, the Sunset now leads the pack in average days on the market at 26, according to Carlisle. That’s a three-way tie for first place with the Potrero Hill/Bernal Heights area and with Forest Hill, but in those neighborhoods 26 days is at least two day slowdown from 2015, whereas it’s a loss of only a single day in the Sunset.

And while median prices have plunged year over year in neighborhoods like Pacific Heights, they’re up nine percent on the west side, as Paragon has it.

It makes sense if you think about it. Single family homes are what buyers in San Francisco want (and what, for practical reasons, the city isn’t building). Inevitably, they’re going to gravitate toward the place with a large and (compared to previously hot neighborhoods) more affordable supply of those houses.

Still, we’re feeling some skepticism. We love the Sunset as much as anybody, but this is a pretty bold claim. What if the seeming hotness of Sunset sales is actually just a retraction in other, previously overvalued neighborhoods? What if the steadiness of trends there is just because it’s a huge neighborhood with a lot of sales, and thus a lot of data points that can’t be swayed as easily by brief trends, the way a place like Pac Height can be?

Carlisle acknowledges that there might be some validity to that. But he points out that the Sunset has always been a big neighborhood and it’s always been more affordable, but he’s never seen it perform this way before.

"When the recovery started, unquestionably the big neighborhoods were places like Noe Valley, Cole Valley, and the Marina," he says. "You didn’t see this kind of attention paid to the Sunset. Now you do."

[Update: Curious, we talked to Josh Nasvik at Paragon competitor Polaris Pacific to see whether he agreed about the west side's supposedly sunny future. While he doesn't claim a command of statistics to match Carlisle's, he does note that Polaris big Parkside project has gone from an inventory of 10-12 units at a time to now selling nine months in advance on unis that haven't even been built.

"I don't think it's a preposterous idea at all" that the Sunset could become "hot" Nasvik says. "After 16 years in San Francisco real estate, nothing seems preposterous."]