Buying in San Francisco vs. Oakland

Though San Francisco and Oakland are a mere stone's throw away from each other, there are several major differences between the two metro areas. Fans of the Oakland Raiders and Athletics hate the San Francisco 49ers and Giants, and the Bay Bridge is one of the only structures keeping the rivalry at bay. If you are considering a relocation to Northern California, it might be a good idea to evaluate the differences between homes for sale in the Bay Area, specifically between San Francisco and Oakland.

Price difference
From a population standpoint, Oakland is San Francisco's little brother. The city to the east of the Bay had an estimated 390,724 residents in 2010, according to Infoplease. Meanwhile, Yahoo reports that the current population of San Francisco is around 815,358, more than double the number of total residents in Oakland.

So, how does this information help the average homeowner? The lower population in Oakland often means that property in the city retails for a significantly lower price. The San Francisco Chronicle compared two similar properties in Oakland and San Francisco to determine the difference in cost.

The Oakland property was a 2,000-square-foot duplex that contained two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Its asking price was around $775,000, near the median cost of homes in the greater Bay Area. The San Francisco residence was located in Glen Park Village, and the single-family home had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, though took up 716 square feet. This home, however, cost a whopping $965,000, despite being much smaller - $190,000, or about 20 percent, more than the Oakland property.

If you are trying to stretch your budget, it might be more prudent to search the MLS listings in Oakland. You could find your dream house at a discounted retail value.

San Francisco
Despite the attractions and discount prices of the Oakland real estate market, San Francisco still has a lot of interesting features that make it a great place to live. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported that foreign investors poured almost $685 million into commercial real estate on the peninsula.

While commercial real estate practices differ greatly from residential listings, a homeowner can still benefit from such an influx of cash. As more companies flock to San Francisco, more jobs will open up. Higher employment, in turn, will result in a diminished housing stock as workers flock to find available homes. Therefore, now might be the best time to look for a house in the Bay Area to avoid inflated asking prices.