San Jose (#1) and San Francisco (#2) remain the two most expensive major metropolitan areas in U.S. for single-family homes and the gap between the two and the rest of the nation widened in the second quarter of the year.

The median selling price for a single-family home in the San Jose area, which includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, has increased to $980,000, up 8.9 percent from the first to second quarter of 2015 and versus the same time last last year, while the median sale price for a single-family home within the San Francisco metropolitan area, which includes Oakland and Fremont, increased to $841,600, up 12.5 percent over the past quarter and 9.0 percent higher year-over-year.

Rounding out the top five most expensive housing markets in the U.S. for single-family homes: the Anaheim/Santa Ana/Irvine metro area at $685,700 (up 3.1 percent YOY); Honolulu at $698,600 (up 3.0 percent YOY); and the San Diego area at $547,800 (up 8.6 percent YOY), according to the National Association of Realtors.

The median sale price for Major Metropolitan single-family homes across the U.S. increased to $229,400 in the second quarter of 2015, up 12.1 percent from the first quarter and 8.2 percent higher year-over-year.

50 thoughts on “The Most Expensive U.S. Metro Areas: San Jose And San Francisco”
  1. It’s because of the way they define the boundaries of these “housing markets”.

    Otherwise you’d see Manhattan > SF > SJ.

    1. NYC metro is comparable to SF metro which covers SF, Oakland and Fremont. I think this comparison is actually reasonable.

      1. It may be reasonable in some sense but given how often you hear reactions like Dave’s above, I think most people are actually more interested in knowing the relative costs of the actual cities (or in the case of NY, just Manhattan and Brooklyn specifically).

        Manhattan is still *far* more expensive than SF.

        1. And for more average people living around Manhattan is actually cheaper than living around SF now I believe when you factor in everything

          1. because there are cheaper places to live further out in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, or Jersey

          2. Ahhh….so outer Brooklyn or Queens is cheaper than say Vallejo, Richmond or East Oakland? Maybe more commutable too?

          3. More commutable yes. Even closer in you can get nice condos in New Jersey that have the path subway within walking distance for comparably reasonable prices I think. Along the commuter train lines I think it gets cheaper in the suburbs too compared to our crazy prices

        2. The difference is that you can live within easy commuting distance of Manhattan for like a third of the cost of something comparable in SF. NYC metro is a crazy high peak that quickly drops substantially, where SF is a smaller hill that doesn’t decrease much at all until you get to terrible-to-live areas like Tracy.

    2. Not sure that Manhattan is noticeably more expensive than SF proper. The housing stock is just much smaller and less….nice. Last stats I saw (recently) had Manhattan at around $1.25M for the median price. It honestly makes sense if the average place is sub 1000 sqft and you include uptown.

      1. Therefore, a comparable home or condo is far more expensive in Manhattan than in SF.

        Per Trulia, average psf in Manhattan is $1,418. Average in SF is $963. So Manhattan is almost 50% more expensive psf.

        Average listing price in Manhattan is $3,513,331, compared to only $1,279,643 in SF.

        So I would say Manhattan is noticeably way more expensive on any useful metric.

        1. (I will say, though, that mean/median might skew these results quite a bit, since there are, for example, obviously far more $100M homes in Manhattan than the zero we have in SF.)

  2. California is more expensive because we have very strict anti-growth planning and building codes. Blue states make housing price higher and higher. Isn’t California the bluest state?

    1. We don’t have anti-“growth” planning codes, we have anti-sprawl planning codes. The idea that you could fix SF housing prices by paving over what’s left of our land is pretty dumb.

      SF would reach Manhattan-levels of population density of there was a single 5-story building on each block. There’s no need for sprawl, and there’s no need for skyscrapers.

      1. No, it is actually anti-growth. Which is why there isn’t a 5 story building on every block in SF. Which is why your comment is full of derp.

        We also have a tremendous amount of land in the Bay Area on which we could build and the average Joe wouldn’t even notice a difference. Massive amounts of build able land in Marin County – as just one example – have been sequestered off by overly restrictive zoning codes. The same is true of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. SM and SC counties are perfectly happy letting suburban office parks (and the jobs and tax base) go up, but completely restrictive about allowing residential development. And they are all enabled in that stance by CEQA, which allows every Tom Dick and Harriet NIMBY show up to block any and all development.

        Anti-growth IS an accurate statement of land use law in California. We reap what we sow. And what we are reaping, is a housing market that middle class people cannot afford, that just drives middle class people further and further out, with longer & longer commutes (and the attendant impact that has on greenhouse gas emissions), as well as the overall drag on our state economy.

        1. It is much more Prop 13’s fault then CEQA’s fault. Prop 13 made it so that cities have very little incentive to build housing because the property taxes will remain low over time. Thus cities would rather assist tax revenue creating sources like strip malls and office parks that will generate local taxes and planned their zoning with this in mind. CEQA is a relatively easy hurdle for most housing developments to jump through at this point, but if there is no zoned land for housing, no developments get planned.

        2. No, it’s called responsible growth. Simple fact: not every piece of land needs to be built on and not every corner needs a 5 story building.

          1. What’s responisble about spreading jobs and 7 million people over such a large urban area, resulting in some of the longest commute times in the nation and the highest property prices? LA is even worse with the moderate high density model of growth. Moderate density over a large area is dumb growth

          2. Then go live in the shadow covered concrete canyons of Manhattan. Yes, I do agree a GREAT urban transit system like the large cities in Europe have would solve a lot of our commute problems.

            Not everyone wants to live high density and should not have too, except by choice.

          3. You are one of the biggest NIMBYs on this site. Its not surprising you’d have a cow over the prospect of 5 story buildings, which is the furthest thing from Manhattan-esque scale. But please, keep continue making mountains out of literal molehills.

          4. Actually, no. As an architect I expect quality urban development, high rise, mid rise and low rise. We aren’t Manhattan, nor we have to strive to be Manhattan. There are huge opportunities to continue building up SOMA and downtown with appropriately scaled buildings. The recently built up corners in the Castro/Upper Market corridor are great examples of good urban infill. I hope more of that continues.

            Perhaps you shouldn’t generalize so much and look back on my comments over the years.

          5. You still haven’t answered why forcing long commutes should be considered “responsible” growth.

          6. Forcing long commutes? Nobody is. Don’t like a long commute, then move closer in, get a job near you or move to a city you can afford NEAR your job.

          7. Get a job near where you can afford to live? I guess we techies could pack up and move to Bangalore or Shanghai. But even Bangalore and Shanghai real estate is surging.

            The problem is that boom industries like tech result in an echo boom in real estate around the tech centers. The only reasonable solution is to build denser near the tech centers. If you don’t, other tech centers start cropping up. Their gain, our loss.

          8. Seriously? Tech people are among the most highly paid in the Bay Area.

            Can’t afford the hot Mission/Valencia corridor? then move to Daly City.

            Cry me a big river.

          9. “Tech people” is a pretty meaninglessly broad class. “Tech people” who actually started and sold companies (or got big financing) are among the most highly paid people in the Bay Area. Joe Schmoe software developer who makes $200k/year is not highly paid and can’t afford a 3BR home in anything even two levels removed from “prime SF,” or possibly anywhere in SF. Even $1M is a fairly irresponsible stretch at that level of salary.

            Also, the relevant comparison is to others who are in the market for the small percentage of houses that are actually on the market. Making more than 90% of SFers is irrelevant if all of those folks are lifetime-renters or people who bought their homes in Noe in the 90s for $300k and could never afford to move into the Bay Area if they were starting from scratch based on earnings.

          10. Alai, all coders on 200k income I know have a sizable nest egg. Most of my friends are dot commies 1.0 though, but all can afford a 1M pad.

          11. Who said that? Only 16% of the land in the Bay Area is built on, by the way. We could build on another 16% and still have 68% undeveloped (and much lower housing costs)

          12. no one making $200K shoudl be buying a $1M home unless they have a really big nest egg. that’s just financially irresponsible. to buy a $1M home , ideally you would have at least 20% down and >$300M in income.

        3. Where is all of this developable land in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Marin Counties of which you speak? I up around here in the 1970s and 1980s and I remember the last level plots of farmland being ploughed under for houses around that time. The lower hanging fruit is all gone. What is left is open space and watershed lands up in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Coast Range. Most of it is protected and it would be very expensive to develop with anything but expensive estates. And speaking as someone who grew up here and rues all the changes brought by the tech infestation, the only reason I stay here is because all of the gorgeous, hikable open space. We won’t let you touch that. Instead, maybe look at these sprawling office parks in the South Bay. Tear them down (many are vacant anyway because no one wants to work in them anymore) and replace them with dense, mixed-use housing of at least five stories, and then connect them to transit. Done and done. You’re welcome!

      2. There’s plenty of sprawl in California. And there is plenty of land that’s already paved over in the Bay Area, which could be built on, but it’s used for parking lots–and the pro-sprawl, anti-growth planning codes will keep it that way for the foreseeable future.

    2. prop 13 has essentially capitalized property taxes and infrastructure costs into housing prices. i pay a few thousand dollars in property taxes while my in laws on the east coast pays four times as much for a house that’s appraised at 1/3rd the value.

      1. I pay about 13x the property taxes as my parents and we live in about the same value house in adjacent suburbs

    1. No, not crazy, useful and practical. The Census delineates MSA boundaries along country boundaries almost everywhere and Alameda County is much more economically integrated with SF than with Santa Clara County. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA is just the combination of Santa Clara County and San Benito County. And the SF MSA is the counties of SF, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin.

      There is also the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA CSA, which combines both SF and SJ MSAs as well as the counties of Napa, Sonoma, Santa Clara, and Solano. That is the ~8 million people most of us call the Bay Area.

      FWIW, county boundaries are useful when you are a government producing stats primarily for governments at each level to use. They do publish data down to the census tract level for those that need/want their own partitioning.

      1. Yes. The traditional 9 county Bay Area. Though San Benito is not in the 9 county CSA metro-plex though its in the SJ MSA.

        1. San Benito county _is_ in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland CSA. It’s not in the traditional 9-county “Bay Area” but that’s unofficial.

        2. I think most people include Hollister in the ‘Bay Area’, and Hollister has about two-thirds of all the people in San Benito County. Regardless, the MSA and CSA are more rational than our political boundaries.

          1. Exactly. And most people couldn’t tell you where San Benito County is either. I think most people that do know where Hollister is and have an opinion about the ‘Bay Area’ would think of it as near the southern end. Good we have professionals at Census to decide these things for practical uses like MSA and CSA. Too bad we can’t partition the congressional districts as rationally.

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