The next hottest housing market in America is this San Francisco micro-hood that’s so obscure, most residents have never heard of it

Real-estate experts predict Golden Gate Heights neighborhood is the next hottest housing market in America.

caption
Real-estate experts predict Golden Gate Heights neighborhood is the next hottest housing market in America.
source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Golden Gate Heights, a little-known enclave in San Francisco, has been named one of the hottest neighborhoods of 2017 by real-estate site Redfin.

Located on the outskirts of the Sunset District, the charming micro-neighborhood has no shops or restaurants. But it draws homebuyers with its affordability, suburban feel, and great views. A whopping 86% of homes in Golden Gate Heights sell above asking price, according to Redfin.

I moved to San Francisco two years ago and I’d never heard of Golden Gate Heights before. I recently set out for a day of exploration in the micro-neighborhood to see what the hype is.


When I told my office that Golden Gate Heights had been named one of Redfin’s hottest neighborhoods of 2017, you could almost make out the record scratch sound effect.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Golden Gate Heights sounds like a realtor’s attempt to rebrand an existing neighborhood with a pleasant-sounding moniker in order to lure prospective homebuyers, like New York’s SoHa.

None of us had ever heard of it.


A quick search revealed that at least Google Maps thinks it’s real. Golden Gate Heights is tucked between the popular Inner Sunset and Forest Hill neighborhoods on the west side.

source
Google Maps screenshot

The neighborhood is stretched across two of the tallest hills in San Francisco: Larsen Peak at Golden Gate Heights Park and Grandview Park. I wanted to go from one peak to the other.

source
Google Maps screenshot

Source: Wikipedia


I hopped an Uber to the micro-hood’s biggest attraction, Golden Gate Heights Park.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I passed a few people walking their dogs but was otherwise totally alone. The fog rolled in through the tree tops, making me feel like I had been transported to an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

It was then that I realized I left my iPhone in the backseat of the Uber car.

For context, I can’t make it out of a driveway without Google Maps. I am certified navigation-challenged. My heart began to race and my fingers itched for the feeling of a phone in hand.


I thought about asking around to find the nearest public transportation stop, but I decided to continue blindly with my tour.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I set off down a residential street and admired the houses, which looked like faded LEGO bricks standing upright on a hill. Street parking was plentiful. Some homes had yards.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Golden Gate Heights is more affordable than some trendy San Francisco neighborhoods, but it’s still expensive. The median sale price is $1.59 million, 21% higher than the median sale price in the city overall. Homes typically sell at 120% of the listing price, according to Redfin.


Getting around was like a StairMaster workout. In Golden Gate Heights, the streets break away from the grid that patterns much of the area.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I couldn’t tell where the hills of Golden Gate Heights started or stopped, and I didn’t want to waste my time in the wrong location. So I started asking people where Golden Gate Heights was.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Their answers were surprising.

“I’m not exactly sure,” a middle-aged woman walking her dog told me.

“It’s kind of hard to describe,” said a young woman canvassed with tattoos.


Even people living in the vicinity of Golden Gate Heights couldn’t identify its boundaries.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I wandered a bit longer before coming across a steep staircase. I figured I could climb it for a better view of the area.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The view — combined with the climb — took my breath away.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

On clear days, you can supposedly see the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I noticed that the homes grew bigger and more extravagant further up the rocky inclines.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I stopped a local woman with bangs cropped high on her forehead and a bundle of silvery gray foliage in her hand. She told me I was in Grandview Park, the second highest hill in the neighborhood after Golden Gate Heights Park. A feeling of success welled up inside of me.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I knew that by hiking from Golden Gate Heights Park to Grandview Park, I had – without my phone or GPS to guide me – traveled the length of the neighborhood from south to north.

Still, I asked the young woman, “Am I in Golden Gate Heights neighborhood?”

“I don’t know if it’s technically considered that,” she said.


Three locals told me they didn’t know where Golden Gate Heights is, while standing in that very neighborhood. I started to think the micro-hood was a made-up place after all.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

But three people hardly make for a reliable survey. On my way out, I discovered a stone wall at the bottom of the hill that proudly bore the name “Golden Gate Heights.”

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I’m still not sure of the legitimacy of Golden Gate Heights. But I would go back for a hike.

source
Melia Robinson/Business Insider

For families looking for a remote neighborhood within the borders of a major city, Golden Gate Heights – real or not – is an ideal spot. But houses there won’t remain a bargain for long.

This story has a happy ending: My Uber driver returned my phone to me the next day.