October 24, 2010

The Bottom 400 of the Top 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes, Part 4 of a Series that Will Never End. Ever.

We can thank Forbes Magazine’s The Most Expensive Zip Codes for selecting the prestige postal zones and then managing to mess them up.  So far we’ve caught them describing one town while showing houses from another, forgetting the difference between a zip code and a town boundary, mixing up their data sets, and showing a zip code 10 miles and $2 million away from what they labeled.

Since we don’t concern ourselves with other parts of the country where prices go down, homes need maintenance, streets get busy, and airports allow planes to land while children are sleeping, we’ve been looking at the Bay Area zips only.  In case you want to refer to the previous articles, you can click over to:

  • The 25 most expensive zip codes in the entire country, featuring Atherton, Belvedere, Los Altos Hills and Hillsborough!
  • The next 25 zip codes, not quite as Special.  Portola Valley, Los Gatos, Woodside, and other places too far away from Google to matter make their appearances.
  • The 50 after that, at cut-rate prices compared to the first 50.  These entries in the Corridor of Not Quite include Los Altos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and Palo Alto.

Again, data crunched by Altos Research, info prepared (not always perfectly) by Forbes, criticisms (I’m starting early today) entirely home-grown at burbed.  The very first entry on Forbes’ Page 2 list is one of our own!  We may not be in the Real Bay Area (RBA) anymore, but remember, these zip codes are still more expensive than at least 44,000 others!

image_thumb[1] #101 – 94507 Alamo

Median Home Price: $1,513,739
Median Price Change: -11%
Average Days On Market: 139
Inventory: 113 properties
Median Household Income: $139,997

I just said we weren’t in the RBA anymore.  It’s never a good sign when the very first listing is in the East Bay.  That 11% drop isn’t surprising anybody.

Besides, pretty soon the home price medians are going to drop below a million and a half, and then where would we be?

Right.  In the East Bay.

image_thumb[3] #106 – 94946 Nicasio

Median Home Price: $1,484,615
Median Price Change: 5%
Average Days On Market: 176
Inventory: 13 properties
Median Household Income: $76,194

You should have heard of this town before.  It was featured in burbed because of this listing.  Jerry Garcia’s house has been holding up this zip’s entire market.

Clearly Alamo and Nicasio are for two different demographics.  Alamo is for people earning good money now.  Nicasio is for people who already earned good money and want to get away from the people in Alamo still earning.  Then they can chillax and just enjoy it.  The money, I mean.  I’m still getting my head around trying to fill the closet in Jerry’s master bedroom.

Unfortunately, by not keeping enough cash coming into town, the residents of Nicasio let down the team.  Yes, the median home price is under one and a half million now.  Who knows what kind of vagrants and transients are living in those houses?  It’s not surprising one of them joined a rock band.

image_thumb[5] #120 – 93921 Carmel

Median Home Price: $1,412,704
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 153
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $53,750

The income is down even more here at the other end of the Bay Area.  The Monterey Bay Area.

Carmel is a touristy little town that is expensive to live in, doesn’t sell anything useful to residents, and has a beach nobody can use since parking is between impossible and utterly impossible.  You shouldn’t have taken your time reading this.  They just ticketed your car.

Does that little bit right outside the zip environs, lower right corner, really say Trailer Park?

image_thumb[7] #120 – 93921 Carmel-By-The-Sea

Median Home Price: $1,412,704
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 153
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $53,750

This is only a test to see if you’re paying better attention than Forbes did when they put this article together.

Yes, it is entirely possible that two cities can share a common zip code.  We’ve had many examples of it in the first hundred entries.

But what are the odds of the same zip code, the same ranking, the same data, and the same map just sitting there for two cities with practically the same name, and nobody noticed a damned thing?

image_thumb[9] #121 – 92603 Irvine

Median Home Price: $1,406,399
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 120
Inventory: 227 properties
Median Household Income: NA

Irvine has entered the building!

No, I have not taken leave of my senses.  I know that Irvine is not in the Bay Area, Real or otherwise.

But Irvine’s real estate issues have been so instructive, and the seminal Irvine Housing Blog so important to anyone trying to make sense of what happens when bubble
s pop.

And as much as there have been problems with the real estate market up here, one of our zip codes doesn’t have 227 properties in inventory, and so far we’ve avoided Mello-Roos taxes, too.  There’s a good reason we’ve avoided Irvine’s problems.  It’s because they’re not making any more land up here.  And that’s because they’re making it all down there, complete with Mello-Roos!

We now return you to our regular Bay Area real estate presentation, already in progress.

image_thumb[11] #125 – 93923 Carmel

Median Home Price: $1,384,643
Median Price Change: -7%
Average Days On Market: 191
Inventory: 298 properties
Median Household Income: $67,315

Now if i am reading this map correctly, this zip code includes Carmel and Carmel Highlands, but not Carmel-by-the-Sea or Carmel Valley.  Or the other part of Carmel that is covered by a simple street map and includes all the high-priced art galleries and jewelry stores.

This zip also has a bigger inventory than Irvine’s.  Thanks for making us look bad, Carmel, when everyone at IHB clicked over to read this.  You’re making all of us look really pathetic to those Southern Californians.  We might have to ask you to move over there, permanently.  You and your 298 unsold properties.  Maybe when you get they’re you’ll be placed in a Mello-Roos district, too.

(I thought those 298 listings had to be a mistake on Forbes’ part, but it isn’t.  Entering this zip into Redfin yields 270 listings.  And just because the zip covers around 200 square miles isn’t going to get it off the hook.)

image_thumb[13] #131 – 94104 San Francisco

Median Home Price: $1,365,346
Median Price Change: 3%
Average Days On Market: 162
Inventory: 11 properties
Median Household Income: $14,609

Finally!  A zip that makes you really sit up and take notice.

A zip that not only includes a bunch of ginormous skyscrapers (well, ginormous as long as we don’t go comparing them with anything in Los Angeles, or Chicago, or Manhattan), but has the brass rivets to say LOOK AT ME.  The median home price here is $1.36 million and the median income is $14,609.  That’s right!  It would take the average resident here a hundred years to buy the average residence.

Only a zip code with serious chutzpah could issue a message like that, a message that says, “Want to buy here?  Sorry.  You’ve been Priced Out Forever.”

image_thumb[15] #132 – 94965 Muir Beach

Median Home Price: $1,364,462
Median Price Change: 7%
Average Days On Market: 34
Inventory: 3 properties
Median Household Income: $76,808

This tiny town is located right where California Route 1 cuts overland to the Pacific and heads north up the coast (that line mislabeled 1 is actually US 101.  I’m watching you Forbes.  Always watching.) This tiny town has about six streets.  Muir Beach shares a zip with Sausalito, which ought to be showing up at some point.

Muir Beach.  Like Bolinas, only closer and more expensive.  Water meters not included.

image_thumb[17] #134 – 94574 Saint Helena

Median Home Price: $1,354,277
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 186
Inventory: 102 properties
Median Household Income: $60,964

Looks like it takes half a year to sell a typical property in Saint Helena.  That means they named the place well.

Saint Helena was the second and final place that Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to, and he died five and a half years later.  And there isn’t anywhere nearby called Elba, because that would mean you could escape.  Although you can at least drink heavily.

Able I was ere I bought in St. Helena.

image_thumb[21] #147 – 95452 Kenwood

Median Home Price: $1,294,385
Median Price Change: 46%
Average Days On Market: 152
Inventory: 19 properties
Median Household Income: $58,421

Honey, I shrank the zip code.

I had to.  When it took up about 20% of the page, the only thing I could find was State Highway 12 and Mt Hood Regional Park.  I figured Kenwood was somewhere between Santa Rosa and Fairfield but wasn’t quite sure which was closer.

And St. Helena is in convenient exile distance.  I suppose I should find something nice to say about the place because the prices are up 46%, but seriously, unless you’re cultivating 200 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon or really want the Smothers Brothers as neighbors, you should be looking a little closer to Facebook HQ.

image_thumb[23] #150 – 94705 Oakland

Median Home Price: $1,283,731
Median Price Change: 28%
Average Days On Market: 217
Inventory: 3 properties
Median Household Income: $68,112

Somebody is playing a joke, but I can’t figure out who the joke is on.

We started today’s batch of runner-ups to the runner-ups in the East Bay.  Not only are we going t
o finish there, we’re going to finish in one of the least RBA-like cities in the East Bay.

Then again, the zip includes a bunch of UC property in Berkeley, so that’s kind of cheating.  Plus the Claremont Hotel.  I bet the Claremont Hotel would sell for more than $1,283,731.

And the zip is up… twenty eight percent.  With the same kind of unobtanium inventory we saw in Muir Beach.  That’s it.  I’m out of here.  I know when I’m licked.

Next installment: The Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Richmond Flats between Cutting Boulevard and Solano Avenue.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

10 Responses to “The Bottom 400 of the Top 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes, Part 4 of a Series that Will Never End. Ever.”

  1. waiting_for_the_fall Says:

    This must be what people read in blog hell- a boring series that will never end.

  2. Cody Says:

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  3. Real Estater Says:

    Guys,

    Time for another episode of “I told you so”. As we approach year end, hiring is heating up in the valley, with certain areas “absolutely on fire”.

    When I reported this trend as it started happening, it was met with skepticism by the usual suspects. I even said certain areas were having a feeding frenzy, when everyone was still looking at lagging indicators.

  4. madhaus Says:

    Wow, I am seriously losing my touch. I promise to make the next entry in this series longer and less interesting. You guys just aren’t complaining enough.

  5. SEA Says:

    “I promise to make the next entry in this series longer and less interesting.”

    Longer: possible
    less interesting: not possible.

  6. Alex Says:

    Holy Godzilla TeaL DeeR!

    Bring me my tank, Batman!

    WTF happened to burbed? I need the brief snark-filled posts, not a Nytol-laced TeaL DeeR.

  7. A. Lewis Says:

    This is awesome! All the East Bay information is really piquing my interest.

    I am going nuts waiting for the posting about properties between Cutting and Solano. Great job, madhaus!

    Note: When you say “always watching”, do I rightly assume you are using the voice of Roz from Monsters, Inc.? That’s awesome.

  8. Pralay Says:

    Then again, the zip includes a bunch of UC property in Berkeley, so that’s kind of cheating.
    —-

    I am not sure how much radio-active UC area (which includes Lawrence Lab) contributed into this “cheating”. That zipcode (and the next zipcode 94618 at south that includes Rockridge area) is upscale compare to other part of Oakland.

  9. Real Estater Says:

    HGTV “House Hunters” episode on house shopping in the city where overbidding is common.

  10. Ehem Says:

    I’ve lived in about half these places, there isn’t a place on there that doesn’t have indistinguishable forclosure-meltdown-stans within spitting distance. A little north of the oak and rolling grass hills of Alamo you can get the same landscape and commutes for 1/6 the price. My office is on the edge of 94104 — these “statistics” I believe reflect the existence of a small business district with one Fairmount condo complex where they have managed to bamboozle senile heirs and heiresses into 1 mil/bedroom range, add 500k for the remodel. But there are oodles of bust condo towers just south east of here with less used needles in the planters. Nicasio has no houses.


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