Finally!! Reality TV Show Tells America That Bernal Heights Is a “Crap Neighborhood”


To those who fret that Bernal Heights has become too safe, too comfortable, too nice, too fetishized, and too bourgeois, we bring some fantastic news: According to a popular reality TV show, Bernal Heights is too ghetto!


Bravo network’s Million Dollar Listing San Francisco is a reality TV series about slick realtors hustling to sell high-value homes. It’s a Jersey Shore-style drama, only with less tawdry beach sex and more granite countertops. About a million Americans watch the show each week, and on Wednesday night’s episode, one of the more oily realtors was having a tough time selling a home in a “crap neighborhood” called Bernal Heights.

Our Bernalphile friends at CurbedSF explain what happened next:

This week’s episode of Million Dollar Listing San Francisco was the most entertaining of the series so far, but possibly only because it was so completely, utterly filled with plot lines that bear no resemblance to the real world. Unlike last week’s show, there were plenty of new houses to gawk at this time around, and the realtors themselves seemed to fade into the background a bit. The best story line of all was one in which Bernal Heights—the same Bernal named the hottest neighborhood in the whole country by Redfin last year, the Bernal where houses are snatched from the market for hundreds of thousands over asking in mere days—was made out to be a quasi-ghetto where buyers were so turned off that they didn’t even bother to show up for open houses.

The Bernal plot line kicks off when Andrew gets a listing at 535 Gates Street. It’s a classic Bernal flip, and developer Anders Kang has spent $500,000 renovating the property. He wants $2 million, but Andrew talks him down to listing for $1.8 million. “This is not Pacific Heights,” he explains. “This is Bernal Heights, meaning this is going to be a challenge.” Is he living in the 1990s or something? His only challenge should be how to fit prospective buyers into the place for an open house.

Andrew sets up several private showings, only to be blown off by nearly all of the buyers. “Hey Andrew, couldn’t find a buyer for Bernal Heights,” one agent texts. “Let me know if you have something in Noe Valley.” We concede that there are some less-than-ideal things about the property’s location. It sits on the south side of Bernal, which is less sought after than the north side. Neighbors have chickens and curtains for windows, and an adjacent house is covered in peeling paint. “We’ve got a great house in a crap neighborhood,” Andrew explains to a colleague. “What have you seen there?” she asks. “A couple of drug deals?” he answers flippantly. Enough already! This is Bernal! And the house is two blocks from the heart of Cortland Avenue and about a five-minute walk to Holly Park.

There’s a whole bit where Andrew realizes that maybe there are some local tech shuttle stops but cannot find any. Then, the segment wraps up with Justin appearing at Andrew’s open house to say that he couldn’t bring any of his tech buyers over because the listing is on the wrong side of Bernal. By this point, we were laughing so hard at the depiction of Bernal as a wasteland that we didn’t even catch whatever the drama between Andrew and Justin was.

Ohmigod!! Right??

And it gets even better: Some people on Twitter confirm that it sucks here!

Others say Bernal is just rough around the edges:

Some believe the fundamentals don’t make any sense:

While other are just plain cynical:

Still, all in all, this might well be the best thing to happen to Bernal’s street cred since that Bigfoot sighting in 2012.

It’s official: We’re rough. We’re edgy. We’re out of the way. Techies think we are squalid. This week, a million Americans learned that respectable, high-achieving people want nothing whatsoever to do with Bernal Heights. Which, of course, can only mean…



PHOTO: Top, 535 Gates via SFMLS

57 thoughts on “Finally!! Reality TV Show Tells America That Bernal Heights Is a “Crap Neighborhood”

  1. Yipppeeee Bernalwood for getting on this. My house is the one next to the chicken house ! I had so much fun watching these douchebags. I’m thrilled the techies think we’re a ghetto. right on. keep them in the marina!!!

    • Hi Kristen –

      Can we please not fan the flames of bigotry and prejudice based on the professions people hold? My family has lived in Bernal for about 5 years and my spouse and I work in technology. Your comment suggests that I am unwelcome in this neighborhood. I trust that is not what you really meant.



      • I completely agree that “Techie” is being misused. Who cares what industry these d-bags work in. The point being that the “bro” mentality is more welcome at Frat-mason, then it is in our beautiful Bernalwood! Anyone who comes to Bernal and complaints about the chickens should absolutely keep looking for a home elsewhere.

    • The techies I was talking about are those in the show dissing my home and my neighbors and the real estate agents who selected them specifically. Since when are techies a protected class anyway? I’m sure you’ve never told a lawyer joke….

      • Sure, it’s easy to make blanket statements, but it’s not particularly nuanced. Saying “those techies” is just as bad as saying “those French” or “those lawyers.” Maybe some techies are asses, and maybe some lawyers are whatever lawyers are…but classifying an entire group of people is more a reflection on you then it is on them.

  2. South Bernal aka Bernal Depths aka Bernal Flats. yep we’re a bit scruffy, but you crave our easy freeway access! and walking to the farmer’s market. suck it, reality tv philistines!

    • My “South Bernal” (as it was described when I bought in 2001) house is near two great parks, a 1/4-mile from Cortland, a 15-20 minute walk from Glen Park, and has great southern exposure.

      Personally, I never saw the attraction of “North Bernal,” which is all houses, no shopping, and is a bit too close to Cesar Chavez for my taste. OK it has views, but views are over-rated.

      • Our commercial strip for North and West Bernal is Mission Street, plus we have dining and groceries on Precita Park. We can have a North versus South throw down– how about a dance off?

      • The best part about South Bernal is the portion west of Andover, where the streets are generally wider than other parts of Bernal, and there’s a greater feeling of open space.

  3. “Crap neighborhood”? Bwahaha. I guess they have to fish for drama somehow, for entertainment’s sake – honestly, trying to sell an inhabitable house in SF at this particular moment seems like pretty much the easiest job one could get.

    (Speaking of which: wouldn’t a show about being a _buyer’s_ agent in SF offer so much more opportunity for drama?)

  4. I liked when he said that unlike the Mission, Bernal is still an area in transition. I think they think the Mission is Liberty Hill?

    • The zephyr article posted above was interesting – it implied the whole sale was faked (“Out-of-area agent Andrew is tasked with handling a newly renovated, south-of-Cortland Bernal Heights listing at 535 Gates (actually listed by Amanda Jones at Sotheby’s earlier this year for $1,595,000 and sold for $1.9M”))

      • Yes, the whole show is generally scripted. The Gates listing was not Justin’s listing, but the Sotheby’s listing agent and sellers agreed to let Bravo use the house for the plot line. I guess they needed a house in Bernal so they could downgrade the neighborhood. Very bizarre to me.

      • And a quote from Todd the first time I tried to comment on Bernalwood:

        “In general, it’s a bad sign when someone’s first comment is potentially defamatory. That’s not to say it’s not true — it may well be — but the tone and phrasing were not conducive to constructive, neighborly conversation.”

        For those wondering I was commenting about how the produce at Harvest Hills can be stale and moldy…

      • Danny & Savage, if Todd was censoring your comments, do you really think he’d let you claim such on his blog?

      • b – don’t play dumb. I’m saying they were censored initially. How many other people don’t get comments posted and just move on (instead of emailing and asking why)?

      • @Danny, I wouldn’t know…I’ve never had a comment on this blog censored. I can say, I’ve seen Todd moderate some comments that were unbelievably rude, racist or mean spirited. If that’s the type of comment you’re posting, then I’m all for Todd using his powers to “censor” you.

      • b – I had said the broccoli at harvest hills was “bendy” and the strawberries “moldy”. So how do you feel now?

  5. Maybe prices will soften about now that everyone knows how “crappy” Bernal is.

    Hahahahaha no of course they won’t. But a dude can dream…

  6. Well, isn’t that whole program faked? Seems like the bottom of the barrel tv watching.

  7. The “ghetto” portrayal was obviously off the mark, but I agree with the negativity around the gated up entryways (and Gates St. does seems to have an especially large number of them). I think they make the area “feel” less safe than it really is, and I wonder how effective they are at actually deterring crime.

    • Ive lived in bernal 20 years im 25 now, i walk my dog on gates and even on ogden st and I’ve never felt scared or unsafe i actually like Gates st it has a variety of neighbors. I’ve met 2 doctors on this street a preschool teacher and her tiny little ants, I’ve also ran into some not so friendly looking people on this blook but after saying hello and introducing myself i feel safer. I guess what im trying to say is if more of the “techies or new neighbors” would say hello to everyone and not just assume or judge by the way people look or how they dress, i think everyone would be able to get along and not hate hate eachother i personally don’t like the “techies” but they are just idiots the majority of the time.

  8. “We concede that there are some less-than-ideal things about the property’s location. It sits on the south side of Bernal, which is less sought after than the north side. Neighbors have chickens and curtains for windows, and an adjacent house is covered in peeling paint.”

    A rather sweeping generalization don’t you think? I’m not sure who is worse, the TV show or Bernalwood’s comment on this post. Maybe you should stay on your side of the hill and forget being welcome on Cortland. Bad.

  9. What a love about Million Dollar Listing is the shows title itself. Million Dollar Listing in Manhattan or SF? You mean every transaction? Get an agent from Ocean Ave in Ingleside and they can show you million dollar listings every day.
    I do wish they showed Bernal in a better light. Believe it or not, people actually believe the stuff they see on TV.

  10. This show is just barf-inducing – who are these people? Thankfully I do not know anyone like these agents or indeed the ‘tech buyers’ they are so rabidly constantly chasing – It comes across to me as if no one on the production crew is a local, it completely fails to capture any real vibe of the city no matter what neighbourhood they are in – I had been interested to see it given than it’s based in the city but it’s just so bad – and not in guilty pleasure tv good way either. It’s makes it seem as if no one else exists in SF aside from RE people and Tech workers – I know it’s for tv but it is so far from
    Any kind of ‘reality’ show I do not predict a season 2 for this franchise

  11. I was taken aback when Justin said he witnessed a drug deal go down on the corner….”yeah right, smh?!” Most of Justin’s comments on Bernal South came really close to being borderline racial…imvho.

  12. Not sure why they’re making stuff up though. Guess it’s because these dudes don’t have many listings? Who’s gonna hire a guy from Pleasanton to list a house in Bernal? And Justin Fischelson was the co-listing agent for the San Carlos property, and that one was withdrawn from the market before the pre-emptive sale went through. It has not subsequently traded either. So the whole commission aspect was fake. Then the Gates street one. Roh actually represented a buyer, on Amanda Jones’s listing. So why insert a complete fabrication? Utterly fake stuff. “Reality” television. hah.

  13. All of us who own homes here are laughing all the way to the bank at that insipidness (were we ever going to sell, that is)

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