One of the most important things to be aware of when you’re house hunting in San Francisco is where our liquefaction zones are. These are areas that sit on landfill, and have less stable soil. So any buildings that are in liquefaction zones won’t perform as well in an earthquake as ones that are, say, on bedrock. (I’ll let Wikipedia explain it in more detail here.)
Yes, people are buying and selling property all the time who live in what are deemed liquefaction zones. Some of the most popular neighborhoods, in fact, are those which are very much a part of these zones. Think South Beach, the Marina, North Beach, Mission Bay, South of Market, and the Mission. But that isn’t stopping developers, who are building new condo developments at a frenzied pace in the last four of those neighborhoods.
That’s because the more modern the building, the better the engineering (putting aside The Millennium). Properties built more recently are designed to withstand large earthquakes, particularly those properties situated in liquefaction zones. Of course, if the big one hits, it won’t be just homes in liquefaction zones that are affected.
So be sure you have some idea as to the quality of your foundation and your home’s overall structure. And check out the liquefaction map when you need it for a reference point. View and download it here.