With a median single-family home sale price of $808,000 in the first quarter of 2014, “San Jose” ranked as the most expensive major metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The “San Francisco” MSA, which includes Oakland and Fremont, ranked as the second most expensive metro area with a median single-family home sale price of $679,800. Honolulu, which was the most expensive metro area in 2011, ranked third at $672,300 last quarter.  San Jose, which includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, passed Honolulu in 2012.  San Francisco passed Honolulu in 2013.

For perspective, the median sale price for a single-family home in the 170 largest MSA’s was $191,600 in the first quarter of the year.  The three least expensive metro areas were Youngstown, Ohio ($64,600); Decatur, Illinois ($69,600); and Toledo, Ohio ($72,100).

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by livefreedieyoung

    Oaktown bringing down the curve for the entire country haha

    • Posted by Matt in Uptown

      There’s an idiotic comment born every minute.

  2. Posted by Jill

    Can we give Fremont to San Jose? 🙂

  3. Posted by MysteryRealtor

    I cannot understand why Oakland and Fremont are thrown in with SF, when they need their own classification (East Bay) or the whole SF Bay Area should be one big MSA. I’m sure there’s a reason that undoubtedly benefits some special interest group to keep it the way it is.

  4. Posted by Jake

    The US Census has about 10 levels of geographic aggregation from smaller than a census tract up to national. At the MSA level SF is aggregated with it’s adjoining counties. CSA (Combined Statistical Area) is the next larger and it includes the next ring of counties and closer to what most would call the bay area.

    The SF MSA level is very useful for understanding the SF job economy because it captures almost all the worker/job pool centered on SF. On a typical workday somewhat more than a third of the workers in SF travel in from these counties and about 20% of the SF residents with jobs work in these adjoining counties.

    Seems understanding housing prices might be easier at a small geographic scale.


    • Posted by nickv

      I think the MSAs might have made sense historically, but Santa Clara and San Mateo are incredibly tied to SF County nowadays (as the tech buses keep reminding us.) It almost certainly doesn’t capture the worker/job pool centered in SF anymore.

      I dare venture those two South Bay counties are more tied to the SF economy than Fremont nowadays….

      I wonder if they ever change these classifications. It’s strange I know an incredibly large number of people who commute between two MSAs every day.

      • Posted by Jake

        An MSA is supposed to encompass a job core and the outer area that provides net commute into the core. In the bay area the two dominant job centers are downtown SF and the valley roughly centered on Sunnyvale.

        While there are certainly many thousands of people that commute between SF and Santa Clara county, they only account for about 2% of the work force in each county. In other words the residents of SF that work in Santa Clara make up about 2% of the work force in SC and vice versa. That’s been the case give or take a percent or two for at least 25 years.The US Census gathers the data and anyone can look it up online.

        So it makes sense to have the two MSAs, but where to draw the line? Both San Mateo and Alameda counties have net outflow of commuters to both SF and SC, but more to SF. Maybe that is why they are in the SF MSA.

        OMB and Census update the various MSA, CSA, etc at least once a decade.

        • Posted by anon

          The SF and SJ MSAs would be combined (because there is enough flow between the two MSAs to be combined – San Mateo-Santa Clara and Santa Clara-San Mateo is where the majority of the action is), but a little known census requirement of three miles of contiguous urban area must touch in order for combination. Because of some zigs and zags around the Stanford campus, SF and SJ fail. It’s the height of absurdity, as looking at any map you can see that the two are clearly heavily urbanized on either side of the San Mateo-Santa Clara County lines.

  5. Posted by R

    Seems MSA is a more useful metric for labor markets than real estate markets. I mean come on, Fremont = San Francisco? We are talking about diametrically-opposed development agendas here. Why Oakland does not constitute its own MSA is puzzling.

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