December 4, 2011

OMFG is this THE END of those %$#@ Zip Codes? Rly?

What with all the excitement from our Black Friday and Beyond DEALS, you may not have noticed that our last zip code installment finished out the 301-400 level of Forbes’ Most Expensive Zip codes.  You know what that means!

Yes, this article, the Bottom 100 of the 500 Most Expensive, is The End of the Delivery Route.  Really.  Well, until 2012, when Forbes puts out a brand-new list, but there’s a good chance the world will end before then.  There’s an even better chance that Forbes will only have 5 places on that list instead of 500, with all the mistakes they made this year.  So you’re going to want to pay attention to every single zippy digit in this last entry for 2011!  But first… here’s your chance to catch up if you missed the earlier entries in this exciting, edge-of-your-seat-on-the-mail-truck, most beloved Burbed series of all time!  (Or was that most belittled?)

Previous Entries in the Most Expensive Zip Code Series:

Hold onto your mailbags, folks!  We’re entering an area with all the median prices under $750,000!  Watch out, there may not be any sushi available.

#406: San Anselmo 94960

  • Median Home Price: $749,000
  • Median Price Change: -17.4%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 129
  • Inventory: 129 52
  • 2010 Rank: 267 (-139 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $20.5 Million

imageA $20.5 million dollar house in Marin makes sense, but in San Anselmo?  I can’t find anything for eight digits anywhere near San Pablo Bay, and this zip’s most expensive place at 178 W Oak Knoll Drive comes in at only $3.4 million.  That’s very different. This 6000 square foot hotel-like structure on almost 10 acres has been on the market for just about half a year, so you’d better hurry!

Now, we know plenty of high-end places get yanked at the end of warm weather season.  But I find the idea of a $20 million ask going without comment pretty unlikely.  This Marin real estate blog didn’t note it under San Anselmo.  Or anywhere else.  The most expensive sale logged in MLS this year was only $8.75 million, in nearby Ross (#30 last year and mysteriously absent this one).

Zowie!! More zip code inZanity after ze break!

#411: San Carlos 94070

  • imageMedian Home Price: $742,089
  • Median Price Change: -7.4%  
  • Average Days On Market: 200 151
  • Inventory: 151 106
  • 2010 Rank: 336 (-75 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $2.7 Million (228 Queens Court)

There are two recurring themes to this Bottom Quintile post: the expensive ordinary, and loss of former prestige.  The ordinary is the jaw-drop gobsmack that comes from a $2.7 million house in San Carlos.  The loss is that San Carlos used to be ranked #336, and almost every other zip in today’s article also lost ground badly.  We are talking red ink everywhere. I’ve got some theories why that’s going on, and the RBA shrinking is only part of it.

Anyway, if you want a Hyde Park Estates 5500 square foot home on half an acre in San Carlos Devonshire Canyon, yet still live on a soul-deadening cul-de-sac like the folks down the hill, this place is for you!

#417: San Jose 95138

  • Median Home Price: $736,969
  • Median Price Change: -10.6%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 124
  • Inventory: 124 stopped clock, it’s the only one that’s correct!
  • 2010 Rank: 319 (-98 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $3 Million (5668 Country Club Parkway)

imageThis is Evergreen, the part of San Jose that abuts the wrong 101/85 interchange.  Back in the 80s, some forward-looking tech companies considered expanding out here by buying up some acreage and having it zoned accordingly. People eagerly bought new construction thinking the jobs would come to them.  What a knee-slapper! 

The featured home pictured is almost 4000 square feet on a miserly quarter acre, which would be as wrong for the lot size as putting up a 2400 sf monstrosity in South Palo Alto.  Wait, they already do that?

If you want an even more expensive place, this one for $3.2 million came on the market a couple of weeks ago.  Bunus: Twice the size (9800 sf!) PLUS it’s got KAWLUMS.  We may be giving that place a big ol’ Burbed hug soon.

#443: Penngrove 94951

  • imageMedian Home Price: $715,000
  • Median Price Change: -5.5%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 195
  • Inventory: 195 21
  • 2010 Rank: 361 (-82 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $5 Million (6650 Eagle Ridge Road)

Speaking of 9000 sf single family residential gated compounds, that’s what’s waiting for you in the delightful community of Penngrove!  And will somebody tell me what’s with this trend of making the MLS cover shot of the back patio with a view?  Below is the picture you first see when you check the house out, rather than the façade I’ve chosen for the introduction.  The San Carlos house plays the same game, but Eagle Ridge is even more overstaged.

imageAnd speaking of unrecoverable home improvement spending, not only does all the décor and furnishings come with the house, be sure to check out the “World class award winning recording studio built from the ground up just across the road.”

In case you’re wondering where Penngrove is, it’s in Sonoma County, off 101. That’s the road to Santa Rosa, but first there’s Rohnert Park, and before that, there’s Cotati, and before that, there’s Penngrove.  So by Santa Rosa standards, it’s close-in!

#445: Moraga 94556

  • imageMedian Home Price: $713,453
  • Median Price Change: NA um, why not?  It was $742,149 last year, which means it went down 3.9% .  You’re welcome, Forbes.
  • Average Days On Market: 200 80
  • Inventory: 80 42
  • 2010 Rank: 377 (-68 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $7.1 Million

Oh look!  It’s the East Bay, chasing the North Coast’s tail yet again!  And no sign of the $7 million asking price, with the most expensive homes not even clearing the threes.  This property at 2151 Camino Pablo was offered at $4.95 million and is still sitting dateless with multiple price cuts over six months now totaling a two point three million dollar price reduction. That’s right, the price reduction is three times the Moraga median home value. It can be yours for $2.695 million, or very probably even less.  I really like this agent’s sense of humor, with the latest price chop of five thousand.

Remember when I linked to that agent who said Danville high-end property is seriously overpriced, and $3 million listings ought to be cut to under $2 million?  Looks like Moraga caught the same bug.  So that hypothetical $7.1 million property that nobody bought?  Maybe it’s a really a $3 million one.  Still think Lamorinda deserves RBA status?

#446: San Jose 95129

  • Median Home Price: $712,248
  • Median Price Change: 2.1%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 63
  • Inventory: 63 81
  • 2010 Rank: 420 (-26 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $1.2 Million $1.149 Million (7120 Galli Drive)

imageIf you had any doubts about why the East Bay isn’t allowed in the RBA, comparing the previous photo with this one ought to clinch it.  Moraga is supposed to be a high-end bedroom community for SF professionals.  The house above certainly suggests it. West San Jose is… um… it’s what people settle for because they can’t afford Cupertino.

For $1,149,000 you get a 1959 tract house, a 3/2.5 with some recent remodeling, on a quarter acre.  Feel the awesomeness of this prestige community, where the professionals wish they could live if only they could afford those Cupertino schools!

#449: San Francisco 94118

  • imageMedian Home Price: $710,385
  • Median Price Change: -27.2%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 78
  • Inventory: 78 94
  • 2010 Rank: 238 (-211 spots ) that’s got to hurt
  • Most Expensive Home: $8 Million (3385 Jackson Street)

A much, much, much more expensive house has since been listed since Forbes went to press with this list: $15 million!  Anyhow, this zip is home to many impressive properties as it includes the Presidio Heights district, Laurel Village, and the ‘burbs of the Inner Richmond pulling the median down.  Once more, San Francisco’s numbers suffer from Altos Research’s decision to include townhomes and condos in the median mix.  You could probably count all the condos in Atherton on one hand and have five fingers left over.

#453: Healdsburg 95448

  • Median Home Price: $709,500
  • Median Price Change: NA
  • Average Days On Market: 200 135
  • Inventory: 135 120
  • 2010 Rank: NR
  • Most Expensive Home: $12 Million

imageThis property at an undisclosed address is almost the above asking price, $11.25 million, so let’s assume Forbes got a number wrong somewhere.  Or maybe there’s more than one really expensive winery for sale in Healdsburg.  (Heck, there’s another one a block away.) 

Yes, this is yet again a ginormous estate house plus outbuildings plus cellar and tasting room plus acres and acres (54 with vines, 75 without) of land, land, land, complete with a business plan for success!  This is the only zip on the Last Tier that wasn’t ranked last year, so think whether the asking price for this place makes any sense whatsoever.

Address disclosed: Pezzi King Vineyards, 3225 W. Dry Creek Road.  So there.

#458: San Ramon 94582

  • imageMedian Home Price: $706,822
  • Median Price Change: 3.2%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 83
  • Inventory: 83 131
  • 2010 Rank: 431 (-27 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $1.8 Million, Sold for $1.66 Million (5324 Cypress Hawk Court)

This is one of several McMansions for sale in the Bridges development.  This humongous (5600 sf) house has to make due on just a quarter acre.  It’s near a golf course, so I hope you like golf.  But feel some sympathy for the sellers; they paid $1.7M for the house.  In 2003.

imageIf you want to get an idea how out of balance the high-end East Bay market is, take a look at this foreclosure with a similar size and lot.  Unable to find a buyer at $1.4M, it was purchased new in 2006 for $2.3M.  It’s also supposedly pending subject to lender approval despite it being recorded as going back to the bank. 

If you click on the handy Under Water Around the Bay Area link on the right (under RBA), you’ll find out this zip has 29% of its homes valued at less than the FBs owe, and 47% of homes sold for a loss in the last 12 months.  Go ahead and compare those with West San Jose.

#459: Foster City 94404

  • imageMedian Home Price: $706,242
  • Median Price Change: 29.2%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 92
  • Inventory: 92 98
  • 2010 Rank: 491 (+32 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $2.3 Million

$2.3 million in Foster City?  Really?  The best I could find was $1.45 million, at 609 Anacapa Lane.  You will enjoy the ride of your life during The Big One, when all the landfill decides to move in different directions.

This is yet another shared zip code where the other half can’t be accounted for.  San Mateo 94404 was in the 300s last year and now isn’t on the list at all.  And this is one of the few zips on today’s list that isn’t bleeding.  Maybe that’s why a Foster City resident likened living there to “driving a Cadillac.”

image#460: San Francisco 94131

  • Median Home Price: $704,864
  • Median Price Change: 1.5%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 86
  • Inventory: 86 69
  • 2010 Rank: 425 (-35 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $3.1 Million

Noe Valley may be a hot, trendy place to buy, but this house isn’t budging yet.  Originally listed for $2.6 million (I still haven’t figured which house listed for $3.1 million but there were earlier sales close to that), 1803 Castro Street is currently listed for $2.2M after two price reductions.  Clearly, there is such a thing as being too greedy, even for San Francisco real estate.

The house features a “a fully equipped, legal 1BR,” yet the listing copy suggests it would make a good guest suite, office, or family room.  Maybe it’s not as “legal” as that term usually implies, but nowhere do they suggest you use it for rental or investment purposes.

image#462: San Francisco 94121

  • Median Home Price: $702,503
  • Median Price Change: -18.3%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 136
  • Inventory: 136 58
  • 2010 Rank: 295 (-167 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $4 Million (2 18th Avenue)

This may be one of the coolest houses to show up in this series.  This 1913 Spanish/Mediterranean 5 bedroom house is 5700 square feet and was once used as a speakeasy.  It has a secret passage, no doubt to escape from police raids.  Plus it’s overlooks the Presidio.  AND it has MAWBUL KAWLUMS, inside and out!  Do check out the pictures because there isn’t any more room for them here!

As for the zip code, great places like this are found in Sea Cliff.  But the zip includes all the Outer Richmond, which is like the Sunnyvale of San Francisco, only with more fog and no auto dealerships. 

#476: San Francisco 94115

  • Median Home Price: $686,346
  • Median Price Change: -32.6%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 116
  • Inventory: 116 140
  • 2010 Rank: 220 (-256 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $45 Million (2901 Broadway Street)

imageI hope this place looks familiar to you, because it’s already been on Burbed twice (two different features). This white elephant has been sitting on Redfin a mere 1685 days, so it will probably sell any day now.  (Hurry, you’ll be PRICED OUT FOREVER!)  The sale of this little place down the street shows what a white-hot market San Francisco is, even at the very, very high end.

But despite the $45 million price tag, this house has no KAWLUMS. So don’t bid a penny over $44,998,000.

image#479: Scotts Valley 95003 WTF?

  • Median Home Price: $679,565
  • Median Price Change: -4.0%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 203
  • Inventory: 203 178
  • 2010 Rank: 412 (-67 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $6 Million (550 Bayview Drive, Rio del Mar / Seascape)

In last week’s zip code piece, I called out Forbes for identifying this zip as Scotts Valley when they ranked it last year for Aptos.  Looks like the 003 does include some other locales, but Scotts Valley isn’t any of them.  The other place names that show up imageare Rio del Mar/Seascape, and Seacliff.  Hey, they both start with S, why am I being so picky?  We’ll just ignore that the $6 million property isn’t in Aptos or Scotts Valley (SV is a completely different zip, 95066, and wouldn’t make the list this year). 

The most expensive property in Aptos is a mere $2.2 million and the property includes 71 acres, a scraper of a house, and all caps in the listing copy.  There’s no mention of Aptos on the Forbes list this year, though.  Look at this map, doesn’t look like any actual Scotts Valley is in this zip, unless it’s the Occupy Scotts Valley tents in the state park.

Oh yeah, the $6 million property.  It’s got an ocean view.

#480: Redwood Shores 94065

  • imageMedian Home Price: $679,211
  • Median Price Change: -1.4%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 89
  • Inventory: 89 52
  • 2010 Rank: 428 (-52 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $1.3 Million $1.225 Million (806 Seal Pointe Drive)

Redwood Shores is a much nicer way to say “East Redwood City on the Landfill.”  And that’s what’s happened with this zip, because the Redwood City component has been buried, maybe next to Jimmy Hoffa.  Meanwhile, the most expensive home in the zip is a 4/3 2660 sf place on a mere 4930 sf lot.  That would make it a downscale version of the San Ramon behemoths above, with both having FARs above 0.50.

And now, the Bottom Tier Disappearing Acts!

Zip codes on this list of Bottom 100 didn’t just walk away, Forbes erased them!  Where did they go?  Were they just embarrassed that the 2010 list had so many (270) California zips; more than half of them?  (There are only 179 this year).  I seriously suspect foul play in the making of this year’s lists, with extreme prejudice toward California locales.  And that’s why so many of these zips are gone.

Does anyone have any ideas how to skew the data to de-emphasize California?

  • 408. Redwood City 94061: No Redwood City zip other than the 62, Wanna-be Woodside, made the grade.
  • 411. San Rafael 94911: Marin’s largest city pulled down by attached housing.
  • 427. San Francisco 94158: So many SF zips are no longer expensive enough due to condos in the mix, despite the property boom in Baghdad by the Bay.  Any more SF zips, just assume the same thing happened.
  • 429. SF 94116
  • 430. SF 94110
  • 433. San Mateo 94403: I’m a little confused why this zip ever made the list I the first place, but it does have some nicer, west of El Camino homes.  Nobody’s going to confuse any of the homes with Hillsborough, though.
  • 435. Redwood City 94065: Another victim of zip code splitting with the remainder thrown off the bus.  Redwood Shores, above, got to keep the 65 even though that’s more of a master plan than a city.
  • 437. SF 94107
  • 446. Fairfax 93930: Another Marin victim, probably drowned in the hot tub.
  • 450. Moss Beach 94038: Maybe somebody noticed there’s a fracking nuclear plant nearby.
  • 457. Oakland 94611: Both Oakland and Piedmont, which share this zip, have been occupied.
  • 459. Pleasanton 94588: Tied to the boat anchor that was Danville and sank to the bottom of whatever large body of water you can find in San Ramon Valley.
  • 463. Woodacre 94973: I never heard of this place, I don’t know where it is, but I suspect it’s in Marin with that “949” prefix.  Is anyone else going to notice it’s been misplaced?  No wonder, it’s on the way to Lagunitas (see below)!
  • 470. Walnut Creek 94598: The Sunnyvale of the I-680 corridor fails by not being as awesome as San Ramon.
  • 471. Dillon Beach 94929: Another Marin fail, this one due west of Petaluma.
  • 475. Novato 94949: As I was saying.  It’s a shame, this is one of the few zips that’s palindromic.
  • 481. Brisbane 94005: Poor Brisbane!  Burbed needs to give Brisbane more love.
  • 486. San Rafael 94903: San Rafael, however, can take this recycling and… um, recycle it.
  • 487. Sunnyvale 94086: Alas, poor Sunnyvale, only one zip for you!
  • 489. Occidental 95465: I don’t know where this place is either, but 954 says Sonoma County.  Oh wow, it’s west of SEBASTOPOL.  Just head a little north and you’re in meth lab country. 
  • 492. Mountain View 94043: Like San Francisco, poor Mountain View got tanked by the condos in the medians.  Unlike SF, Mountain View didn’t appear on the list at all. I call foul.
  • 495. Lagunitas 94938: See Woodacre above, but Lagunitas had a recently profiled Cheapest House in Marin DEAL!
  • 497. Walnut Creek 94596: Who cares?

Goodbye, Mr. Zips!

We hope you have enjoyed the 70 Most Expensive Zip Codes in Northern California!  Let us know how to make 2012’s lists even better!  Here’s a suggestion: if Bay Area property becomes more affordable, then these articles will be so much shorter next year!

So get out there and sell your house cheap!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

7 Responses to “OMFG is this THE END of those %$#@ Zip Codes? Rly?”

  1. Divasm Says:

    So what is your theory on San Carlos? Because it kinda surprises me that Belmont was in the 200-300 tier, so much higher than San Carlos. Everything I see on the good side of El Camino in San Carlos goes for a pretty penny.

  2. PKamp3 Says:

    Love the comments on the East Bay – where unique architecture is necessary to drive high prices. Down here in the South Bay and the Peninsula all it takes is two bathrooms and a single story! The strict definition of the RBA has an element of “what does it cost to buy a ranch?” in it…

  3. nomadic Says:

    You missed a good one in the description of the speakeasy house (#462). It has (snicker) “coiffured ceilings.”

  4. waiting_for_the_fall Says:

    I noticed you posted the dreaded zipcodes on And no one there likes it either.

    Bwahahaha! I’m not the only one!!

  5. madhaus Says:

    Gee, wfff, I thought you’d be beside yourself with joy that THEY’RE FINALLY OVER and you’d give it extra thumbs up just because next Sunday will be SOMETHING ELSE.

  6. Divasm Says:

    On a side note, I had no idea the phrase “snail mail” went back that far, I thought it came about when Al Gore invented the Internet.

  7. ms Says:

    #1, Down around Holly, the houses are a little cheaper and there are many of them. Maybe that’s why San Carlos is cheaper?
    Both SC and Belmont are beautiful, though.

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