List of U.S.’s most expensive ZIP codes shows California housing crisis

The real estate site Property Shark published its yearly list of the most expensive housing ZIP codes in the country this week. For the third year in a row, the tony town of Atherton took the number one spot.

This is neither surprising nor necessarily consequential, as Atherton, an ultra-exclusive Silicon Valley community, has played host to some of the most expensive luxury homes in the United States for decades.

But the rest of the annual list reads like a riot act for California’s ongoing housing crisis, with a particular emphasis on the Bay Area’s glaring defects.

Of the 124 ZIP codes ranked (there are 100 spots, but an extra 24 neighborhoods ended up in the rankings due to ties), 13 of them are in San Francisco, which appears on the list more times than any other city.

Across California, 91 ZIP codes appeared on the list. (Last year it was 82, and the year before that 77.) And of those 91 ZIP codes, 55 are located in the Bay Area.

Here’s how the priciest locales broke down in 2019:

  • Atherton’s 94027—which covers the entire town—took its now customary first place spot with a median home sale price of $7.05 million. Last year it was $6.7 million.
  • Palo Alto’s 94301 was the next most exclusive market in the Bay Area. Although the Silicon Valley town slipped from number six last year down to number seven, this year’s median of more than $3.52 million is a bit less than 2018’s $3.75 million.
  • The 94022 section of Los Altos came in at number nine nationwide, averaging $3.45 million, down a hair from last year’s $3.5 million.
  • Ross’s 94957 was tenth in the nation with $3.35 million, leaping from a 23rd place tie last year when it was just $2.55 million.
  • The fifth priciest Bay Area redoubt was Los Altos’ 94024, which landed in 13th place at $3.15 million, slipping from ninth and $3.25 million in 2018.

SF’s highest showing on the list was 38th place with a tad over $2 million in the 94123—i.e., primarily the Marina District.

While there was slight depreciation in prices in a few of the region’s most expensive markets, the fact that the Bay Area comes closer and closer to swallowing up the entire list every year is cause for concern.

Property Shark tabulates home sales based on “actual closed sale prices, and not asking prices” and calculates a median for each ZIP code.

It’s worth noting that some locations, like Atherton, have relatively few home sales per year, because there are not that many homes for sale—or homes period—in such places, and this is likely to inflate the averages.

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