November 13, 2011

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves: The Third Tier Zip Codes

What will it take to make the zip code series stop?  Lots and lots and lots of quality submissions!  So until you send in your best guest post EVEH, we’ll be running these wonderful lists and photos for the next few hundred Sundays or until we run out of data, by which time Forbes (if they’re still a going concern) will have the 2012 list ready.  But look on the bright side.  No more annoying maps like last year!

Today we look at all the Northern California entries in Forbes Most Expensive Zip Codes 2011: The Top 100 of the Bottom 400.

Previous entries in this year’s series:

Quick recap: Forbes messed up their data even worse than usual this year, plus many areas on last year’s list have completely disappeared without explanation.  We add in the comparison to last year’s rankings and find the “most expensive” house (if it’s findable) that Forbes mentions for each entry.  While Forbes doesn’t seem that interested in hearing from their readers (registration is required), Altos Research, who did the number-crunching, loves talking data.  They’ve responded to a couple of my concerns here.

Here we go, numbers 101-200, which are now under the Million and a Half Median!  How Low do we have to go to sink under a million?  Remember, this is the Third Tier, so Real Bay Area (RBA) bragging rights are gone (except for some exceptions).

#106: Alamo 94507

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,396,000
  • Median Price Change: -7.8%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 134
  • Inventory: 134 102
  • Rank in 2010: #101 (-5 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $11.8 Million (322 Lark Lane)

This high-end (for the East Bay) location south of Walnut Creek is stuck in atop the third tier right where it belongs, just a few spots above Newport Beach.  This luxury home that looks more like an administration building kind of says it all.  Free architectural clue: It’s the windows that make this place a façade fail.

A new $13.8 million property has come on the market since the Forbes article ran, and it has a more traditional (and attractive) look, in the classic “Let’s build a French country estate in Contra Costa County” style.

Plenty more to enjoy after the break!  In fact, we promise the very next one is a Burbed favorite, so click on through.

#137: Palo Alto 94306

  • Median Home Price: $1,250,000
  • Median Price Change: -1.6%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 64
  • Inventory: 64 24
  • Rank in 2010: #151 (+14 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $4.25 Million

imageThere’s no sign of any $4.25 million property, even looking at sales for the last 6 months, foreclosures, and FSBOs.  I found two properties for the identical asking price of $3.195M and this one is pictured because it’s uglier.  But both are on large lots waiting for an important business meeting with a bulldozer.

This particular zip code showed strong price improvement in the past few years not due to relative demand for it over other places, so much as the sheer number of perfectly good houses that were scraped away and replaced with McMansions.

Now if only I could find a dataset showing permits or construction activity per zip code, I could prove it.  City Data provides new SFH permits and construction cost average per city if you want to see Palo Alto’s stats.  2010 saw the second-highest number of permits (146) after 2007 (195).  There is nothing about remodeling permits.

#142: Larkspur 94939

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,239,500
  • Median Price Change: +23.4%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 129
  • Inventory: 129 24
  • Rank in 2010: #227 (+85 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $2.4 Million (385 Elm St)

There are two Price Nightmares on Elm Street listed for the same price, $2,295,000.  The house pictured at right has been listed for half a year and has had two $100K price reductions along the way.  Along with the overpriced Marin County house, you get a third of an acre of land.

This one hit the MLS right before the Forbes piece hit the stands and sits on an expansive 6055 sf lot.  Who do they think they are, Palo Alto?

#144: Burlingame 94010

  • Median Home Price: $1,224,444
  • Median Price Change: +18.2%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 75
  • Inventory: 75 60
  • Rank in 2010: #212 (+68 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $43.9 Million $3.5 Million (5 La Strada Court)

image$43.9 million?  In Burlingame?  I don’t think so.  This house was already shown for Hillsborough in the first article.  Way to go, Forbes!

The most expensive house for sale in the actual City of Burlingame, however, will set you back $3.5 million.  It features 6 BR, 4.5 BA, and nothing but CAPITAL LETTERS but only one SPELLING MISTAKE.

Unfortunately, it’s in a GATED COMMUNITY, which means you will be unable to set up a parking concession and take advantage of Burlingame’s most coveted feature: MINUTES TO SFO.  Perfect for foreigners who need to keep those suitcases full of cash coming in as quickly as possible!

#157 Carmel 93923

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,194,568
  • Median Price Change: -13.7%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 208
  • Inventory: 208 255
  • Rank in 2010: #125 (-32 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $19.2 Million (26320 Scenic Road)

This multi-million dollar property is even more precious than you think.  The lucky buyer who obtains this rare jewel will appreciate it all the more, knowing that its stunning seaside setting could artfully crumble into coveted Carmel Bay at any moment.

#158: Menlo Park 94025

  • Median Home Price: $1,193,614
  • Median Price Change: +5.2%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 83
  • Inventory: 83 91
  • Rank in 2010: #184 (+28 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $4.75 Million (8 Shasta Lane)

imagePoor Menlo Park can’t catch a break.  It’s the civic equivalent of a really smart guy whose older brother won the Nobel Prize.

Menlo Park has its very nice areas, such as Sharon Heights which is where this featured house is located.  It also has a rather grubby district over by 101 that’s essentially Northwest East Palo Alto.

They really ought to spin that neighborhood over to EPA in a stock swap and get their median prices up where they belong.  They’d be in the second tier (not RBA, but still!) if they could pull that off.  With all those VCs on Sand Hill Road, this is a no-brainer.

#177: Berkeley 94705

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,100,000
  • Median Price Change: -4.5%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 81
  • Inventory: 81 25
  • Rank in 2010: #179 (+2 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $9.5 Million (4975 Grizzly Peak Boulevard)

While Berkeley’s southern hillside zip may have made it into the Third Tier, this one has some serious prestige fail.  It’s shared with Oakland.

This listing is a Sotheby’s not-for-you-riffraff listing.  If you check out this property on Redfin, it doesn’t indicate it’s for sale or even that it was.  The most expensive home on Redfin is a $2,695,000 property in the Claremont area, shown at right.  However it appears to have…

image… yes, marble columns.  That’s the one thing that can rescue this series from the haters.  Also take a look at the front door above.  The second listing photo reveals that the front porch is a four-on-the-floor model.

The $9.5 million house above might cost a lot more, but instead of kawlums, all it has are a bunch of cement pillars.  Actually it seems to have a lot of cement everything.  This is another one of those overwrought yet soulless properties that will provide much delight for Unhappy Hipsters fans.

#185: Glen Ellen 95442

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,094,250
  • Median Price Change: +28.0%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 216
  • Inventory: 216 28
  • Rank in 2010: #297 (+112 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $12.8 Million (4377 Warm Springs Road)

Talk about a place that couldn’t possibly be in the RBA!  Quick, what county is it in?  If you don’t know, it isn’t worth talking about.  Plus the median home price is barely over a million dollars.  We might as well be discussing someplace like (shudder) Dallas.

Villa Poliza Estate sits on 25 acres, including 10 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and includes a 7000 sf wine cave.  “An ideal family compound… all the hard work has been completed.”  All you have to do is buy it and watch your capital swirl away.

And up 112 spots?  That’s because a whopping 40 properties changed hands… in all of 2010.

#186: Sausalito 94965

  • Median Home Price: $1,090,291
  • Median Price Change: -7.1%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 153
  • Inventory: 153 72
  • Rank in 2010: #175 (-11 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $6.3 Million 5.95 Million (54 Lower Crescent Avenue)

imageHere’s another zip shared with a completely different entity; in fact they don’t even connect because there’s a state park in the way between Sausalito and Muir Beach.

Our featured Most Expensive House just doesn’t photograph well from the outside. The agent admits this by using a leadoff listing photo of the living room, with views to the Bay.

If you’d rather have a house that has a little more presence, may I recommend this one at $5.5M, which could also function as a mid-sized hotel, or perhaps a large real estate brokerage.

#188: Cupertino 95014

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,076,027
  • Median Price Change: +3.2%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 81
  • Inventory: 81 131
  • Rank in 2010: #211 (+23 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $3 Million (22335 Regnart Road)

Finally!  A zip code in Burbed territory!  Perfect for Apple employees, or anyone who wants high school scores without Palo Alto prices, or foreigners with suitcases full of cash!

Here’s another listing where the agent thought another view would be better than the front of the house.  The property includes 2.3 acres, some of which are 80 degree cliffs.  Taking a look at the interior, I suspect someone has a relative in the window treatment business.

#194: Orinda 94563

  • Median Home Price: $1,050,000
  • Median Price Change: -11.3%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 114
  • Inventory: 114 63
  • Rank in 2010: #171 (-23 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $7.25 Million (92 Sandhill Road)

imageCupertino is up, Orinda is down.  Tract homes are winning out over Execuville.  That’s all you need to know to see why the East Bay wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be in the RBA.

Does this featured property make you think about relaxing by the pool and luxuriating in your own private resort?  Think again.  How much noise is there going to be from that new Caldecott Tunnel construction for the next four years?  And seriously, how much could you relax, knowing that you settled for the East Bay when you could have bought in the prestigious community of Cupertino?

#198: Los Gatos 95032

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,040,668
  • Median Price Change: -3.6%
  • Average Days On Market: 200
  • Inventory: 120
  • Rank in 2010: #199 (+1 spot )
  • Most Expensive Home: $10 Million (285 Wooded View Drive)

Los Ghettoes, Mr. Spock is not impressed with either your anemic movement on the zip lists or your barely-over-a-million median.  You might redeem yourself with some kawlum action on this last property, though.  This looks like a spec house on 6 acres that’s been on and off the market since it was built in 2006.  The price has been up and down since 2006 as well (see Zillow for details), for as much $12 million and as little as $8,988,000 in 2009, when everything was flying off the shelves.  We’ll finish up the Third Tier with this property’s Win and Fail, courtesy of the virtual tour.


Mr. Spock is not impressed with this photo-staging featuring a couple of expensive cars in front of the house.


But nothing could be better than finishing up with KawlumVision.

But There’s More!  Terra Incognita Time for the Third Tier

imageHere’s the list of which zips were on the Third Tier (101-200) from last year.  One thing to note: there were 18 Northern California zips in this range in 2010 (and it took two articles to cover them all), but only 12 this year.  So what happened to them?

Zips that remained in the Third Tier both years are not called out.

#106: Nicasio 94946: Completely gone from the zip list, probably due to lack of sales.  Only 7 properties currently listed, one sale in September, no sales in August.

#120 (tie) Carmel and Carmel-by-the-Sea, both 93921: Moved up to #67 and combined into one entry.

#131: San Francisco 94104: Also gone, no data in Redfin.  This is the financial district, so not much residential.  Why was there enough to show up last year?

#132: Muir Beach 94965: Again, the problem seems to be lack of sales and data for the city.  The vast majority of 94965 listings are in Sausalito, which shares the zip.

#134: Saint Helena 94574: Moved up to #94

#147: Kenwood 95452: There are properties for sale.  Maybe the problem was actually selling any while Altos Research collected this data for Forbes, but there’s no sign of it on this year’s list either.  However, Altos notes in their blog their data is based on listings rather than sales, so this makes no sense at all.

#150: Oakland 94705: This zip is shared with Berkeley (see above), but Oakland’s piece of the zip isn’t listed at all.  The rest of Oakland’s zips start with 946, which makes me wonder about whether this one’s  “really” in Oakland or if the Post Office is full of people who enjoy practical jokes.

#160: Lafayette 94549: Further from fascinating Caldecott construction, so now worth less (#233) than Orinda.  Used to be worth more.  What happened?  Who cares!  It’s the East Bay.

#170: Mill Valley 94941: Dropped to #240.   And for shame, Marin County losing out to The Tunnel People.

#173: Palo Alto 94303: Taken over by the hooligans from East Palo Alto, as there’s no sign of it anywhere.  It seems Forbes got really spooked by shared zip codes this year as a number of them are MIA.  I would suggest that the methodology seems to avoid shared zips and will only deal with one city.  If you share your prestigious zip with a bigger, less expensive place, you won’t make the cut at all.

#185 Redwood City 94062: Jumped in the Emerald Lake and sank to #212.  This is only the second shared zip with both cities on this year’s list.  The other is Los Altos (Hills) 94022.

#193 Calistoga 94515: Springs drying up and sinking in the mud to #213.  See you all next week!

#194 Piedmont 94610: Another prestigious zip swallowed up by Oakland (shared zip) and never seen again.  Piedmont’s other zip didn’t make this year’s list either.  I think they should sue.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

7 Responses to “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves: The Third Tier Zip Codes”

  1. PKamp3 Says:

    93923 – That house is beautiful, but it’s definitely in danger of breaking off from the US to go hang out with Hawaii and Alaska. “Value’s in the land” – well, “land’s in the ocean”. Hopefully the rest of your land will appreciate at 7.2% annually so your property can stay the same value with all the erosion.

    94705 (Berkeley) – I love Berkeley’s M.O. “Kawlums for the sake of kawlums”. Well played. If you don’t have columns at your house, just build a bunch of columns to nowhere!
    94705 (Oakland) – Maybe it’s a political thing? While South Bay cities clamor to be “Real Bay Area”, East Bay cities clamor to be “Real Berkeley Area”?

  2. waiting_for_the_fall Says:


  3. A. Lewis Says:

    Liked for the East Bay love.

    Did you read the Sotheby’s listing copy for that Grizzly Peak place in Berkeley?

    “This modern masterpiece on top of the world was designed by Robert Swatt of Swatt Miers Architects. At the highest elevation in Berkeley and Oakland, sits the ultimate modern masterpiece, a six bedroom, three level home designed to enhance jaw dropping 300 degree San Francisco Bay and five bridge views, including Mt. Diablo and Mt. Tamalpais. The top level is essentially a complete home including a master bedroom suite, kitchen, breakfast room, living room, dining room, library and cantilevered roof terrace that dissolves the separation between interior and exterior access. Materials include elegant Halila limestone floors from a single quarry in Jerusalem, Honduran mahogany ceilings, and Japanese black rock. The master bedroom suite is separated by a nine foot pocket door. This private sanctuary includes a master bathroom, sitting/media room, office, laundry, and huge walk in closets. Soak in the peaceful views from the sunken master bathroom lounge.”

    Take that, boring crapboxes in Palo Alto! This truly is a million dollar view, although I like driving along Grizzly Peak once in a while for nothing, and stopping at one of the turnouts to enjoy the view, along with random motorcyclists, ordinary plebes, kids out drinking and making out, and cops. East Bay diversity!

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