See how much more expensive Bay Area real estate is compared to other cities

At the state level, Hawaii just edged out California for most expensive homes, with a median price of $710,000, compared to California’s $654,629. These both far outpace the national median home price of $281,370, researchers found.

But on the city level, California has the top-four most expensive metro areas with over 1 million people — San Jose ranks number one, with a median home value of around $1.4 million, followed by San Francisco at $1.2 million, Los Angeles at $783,610 and San Diego at $729,318.

Bay Area cities also rank among the most expensive small metro areas — populations with 100,000 to 349,999 people: Santa Cruz was number one, with a median home price of about $1 million, and Napa was No. 2 at $796,806.

Among mid-size metros — between 350,000 and 999,999 people — six of the top ten most expensive were in California, including Santa Rosa at No. 3 and Vallejo at No. 6.

Low interest rates, a housing production shortfall, fewer houses on the market and changes in consumer spending during the pandemic are among the many reasons why housing prices are shooting up, according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. This is very different from normal economic downturns, when housing prices normally decline, Don Layton, a senior fellow at the center wrote.

Will the prices continue to rise? That’s still unclear.

“While it could simply be a pandemic-period distortion that will disappear as COVID vaccines are broadly distributed,” Layton wrote, “it could also reflect a new normal for the dynamics of housing and housing finance.”

Danielle Echeverria is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @DanielleEchev

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