March 31, 2013

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

130329-disposable-successLast week Richard Florida found himself defending his research from an amusing little pissing match started by Joel Kotkin. The argument was over whether “creative class” metros drive the economic engines (Florida) or whether suburban sprawl has it all (Kotkin).  Florida himself dubbed this dustup Flo-Ko. So instead of looking at just which areas are the most “economically advantaged” (a PC way of saying loaded with rich bastards), he addressed X’s objection and decided to subtract out the cost of housing from the index.

What’s left is a disposable income advantage index of the 20 metros with the most money left over after paying the housing nut.  And, you guessed it. Silicon Valley, as represented by the MSA called San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, is totally first on the list.  Let’s take a gander at the top five.

Rank Metro Name Income after Housing: Month Income after Housing: Year

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA




Durham, NC

$3,513 $42,156
3 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA $3,441 $41,292
4 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA $3,342 $40,104
5 Trenton-Ewing, NJ $3,270 $39,240

New York was Lucky #8, Seattle came in at Less Lucky #13 (right behind a couple of Connecticut metros), and Philly brought up the bottom at #20.  This scatter graph shows how the housing costs versus income data looks, and that’s Silicon Valley in the extreme upper right.  You should see datapoints labeled as you hover over them.

What makes a metro have so much disposable income?  There’s a high correlation between number of knowledge worker jobs (that creative class thing again), at 0.73, high incomes (0.60) and number of college grads (0.53).

Inotherwords, Florida 1, Kotkin 0.  x1000.

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

February 13, 2013

We’re Number Two! We’re Number Two!

The good news: We beat LA and Chicago and New York and Washington DC and even SAN FRANCISCO. W00t!

The bad news: We lost to Connecticut. Connecticut? Haven’t they been in the news enough already?

The US Metropolitan Areas Packed With The Most Rich People

Rob Wile | Business Insider | Feb. 11, 2013, 8:24 PM

The U.S. Census has published its list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of wealth in the country.

These are places where a large percentage of your neighbors earn incomes in the top 5th percentile.

Here are the top five.  For the full list, see the article at Business Insider.

Rank Metro % MSA households in US Top 5% Primary Industry
5 Trenton/Ewing NJ 11.6% Protection, extralegal goods, beating the shit out of rivals
4 San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont CA 13.0% Social Media, Investment (hypothetical shit)
3 Washington/Arlington/Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV 14.1% Lobbying (access to shit)
2 San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara CA 15.9% Inventing new shit
1 Bridgeport/Stanford/Norwalk CT 17.9% Insuring shit
Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

January 6, 2013

A New Mapping Tool that is Completely Useless in the RBA

We love real estate tools.  Maps are awesome.  Here’s a new one with the cute name Rich Blocks Poor Blocks that Burbed readers wahnny and Divasm both sent in this week when someone posted about it in Redfin Forums.  (No link, Redfin, until you resume trackbacks to our featured homes.  Neener neener.)

It’s a fairly good idea: take ACS income data for each official Census tract and show graphically how much they vary.  As they say on their main page, “See how much money people make in every neighborhood in every city in America.”  In theory you could use it to see how Special each part of the city is.  Here’s what it looks like when it’s working as the authors intended.


Each state uses its own scale, applying the color key to its own income range.  In the case of Illinois, above, the deep red, lowest income is under $23,120 and the deep green, highest income is over $106,503.  There appear to be 20 different segments in the color key, although we think there’s far too much green and not enough in the red, orange, and yellow. 


Since these are Google Map tools, you can zoom in and out to your heart’s delight, but you can only map one state at a time.As you can see in in the case of New Jersey, above, this tool isn’t that useful with metros that span multiple states.  Fortunately, that’s not an issue even in the furthest exurbs of the Bay Area.

No, the Bay area has different issues.  See what happens when we map the core RBA.


Too. Much. Dark. Green.

The California income scale ranges from $28,183.65 to $122,762.90.  We hope you’re beginning to see the problem: the top 5% income for all of California seems to apply to an awful lot of Census tracts in the RBA.  Or even places that are NOT in the RBA. Like this part of Santa Clara with the Oracle campus:


Contrast with an RBA tract we know is loaded: Los Altos Hills.


It’s the exact same shade of green, because the danged scale tops off far too early for the RBA.  According to this map, there is no difference between northeast Santa Clara and Los Altos Hills even though the latter’s median household income is 72% higher.

If a tract in the Triangle of Lost Equity can have median household income above 95% of California, Rich Blocks Poor Blocks in the Real Bay Area might as well be called Five Red Tracts of Suck Amidst A Sea of Deep Green Money.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

December 12, 2012

Opportunity in Bayview! Buyer To Investigate To Their Satisfaction

121211-gilman-250KToday’s feature caught our eye on a political site’s discussion area that doesn’t usually get into real estate. The topic was those disadvantaged $250K a year families who are going to get dinged with new taxes, which is so unfair!  These put-upon engines of economic advancement are hardly making it!  Why after spending all their take-home pay on a high-priced mortage or rent payments, private school or college tuition for the kiddies, sky-high taxes, fully funding their retirement plans, restaurants, gifts, vacations, clothing, cable (of course including HBO and Showtime), utilities, cleaning services (housekeeper and pool) 16 cell phone lines, internet, car payments for the new BMW, the current Mercedes and the old (2011) Audi, why before you know it these unfortunate folks in the top 5% are barely clearing anything!

Fortunately, one of the respondents noted that living in San Francisco really did not have to cost so much.  We thank our political participants for pointing us to this house.

121211-gilman-trulia1055 Gilman Avenue
San Francisco CA 94124
Price:  $200,000

Bedrooms: 2 
Bathrooms: 1
63 days on Trulia
Property type: Single-Family Home
Size: 950 sqft
Lot: Ask agent
Price/sqft: $211/sqft
Year built: 1908
MLS/ID: 401812
Neighborhood: Bayview, 94124

Opportunity In Bayview! Close To Gilman Rec, Brete Harte Elementary And Steps To Candlestick Park. Some Interior Walls And Flooring Have Been Removed. Buyer To Investigate To Their Satisfaction. Property Is Not Being Shown At This Time, Please Check Back After October 29Th.

While the property is still Not Being Shown At This Time, seeing is believing!


This home has potential all over, especially In The Electrical Wiring.  You’ll have no trouble confirming this, what with Some Interior Walls and Flooring helpfully Removed.

Comments (29) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

October 16, 2011

We Are the 99th Percentile

imageimageOccupy Wall Street is finishing up its fourth week in Zucotti Park (if they weren’t evicted yesterday), near Wall Street in Manhattan.  The massive protest against Wall Street excess has spun off Occupy movements across the United States, including our very own Occupy San Jose movement on the steps of City Hall. 

And that  in turn spread to, I kid you not, Occupy Palo Alto.  The very definition of the one percent has supporters of the other 99, or at least the 99 found the right location, location, location for the one.

Occupy Wall Street comes to Palo Alto

imageBy Jason Green, Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: 10/13/2011 06:09:44 AM PDT, Updated: 10/13/2011 06:09:51 AM PDT

Photos by Kirstina Sangsahachart/ Daily News

Some 150 people gathered Wednesday evening in front of a Palo Alto bank to lend their support to the growing Occupy Wall Street movement that has zeroed in on corporate greed and rampant unemployment.

Organized by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, the rally in front of the Bank of America on El Camino Real was one of several that took place across the Bay Area on Wednesday.

image"This is an upwelling of frustration, a deep-seated desire for substantive change and a keen awareness of just how unfair and unequal our country has become," said the center’s director, Paul George, as protesters sang and waved signs at passing cars. "I expect to see these kinds of demonstrations happening weekly, daily."

As with the demonstrations in San Francisco and San Jose, the Palo Alto rally was held in front of a bank that received a federal bailout but foreclosed on jobless homeowners. "They got $45 billion in bailout money," George said, motioning to the Bank of America behind him, "and they continue to evict people from their homes."

imageOne reason the movement has caught on has been the 99 percent message.  Signs from the Occupy groups tell their stories, and the Tumblr blog We Are the 99 Percent allows anyone to send in a photo with their tale of financial fallout.  (Click the image at left for a larger view.) And there are so many of these stories.  The enormity of misery and how so many people ended up near-destitute in these tales is what sustains both the demonstrations and those who add in their stories to the blog.

Even in the Real Bay Area, where It’s Special Here, people are living paycheck to paycheck.  We’ve discussed some of these ideas on Burbed before, such as the banks’ imagefailure to foreclose on expensive homes, the huge amount of shadow inventory keeping home prices high, and the requirement for two incomes in order to buy even adequate housing.  Now rents are shooting up in both San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

For the most part, people who follow a real estate blog do so because they plan to buy or sell property at some point.  They are most likely in a better financial position than the typical resident.  So given that most of us are doing better than average (We Are the Top 50%), and that with incomes and home prices near the top of the entire country (We are the 1%), how are you feeling about your own financial prospects? 

imageWhat do you think about them now that a number of economists are admitting that yes indeed, we are in a full-blown Depression?  The drop in homeownership rates suggests a Depression as well.  Do you feel you’re the “rich” “they” want to tax, or do you consider yourself “middle class”?  Does “middle class” even make sense in an economy as atypical as ours, where a sixty year old tract house on 6000 square feet can sell for over $800,000?  Or a two-income family taking home more than $200K a year has little disposable income after paying for living expenses?  Or as someone recently asked on, if you lost your job today, in how many months would you be homeless?

Comments (80) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:18 am

January 22, 2011

Bay Area Children Better Off


Bay Area Children Better Off Than Rest of California

In a sign of the Bay Area’s relative wealth, children in the region are more likely to live in households with higher incomes and with parents who are married and have higher education levels than children statewide, according to a survey of parents from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health released in December. While 24% of children in the Bay Area live in households with incomes above $125,000, only 18% statewide had this level of income, the survey found. But because of the high cost of living in the Bay Area, 23% of parents here said their level of income isn’t enough to provide for their children, only slightly lower than 26% statewide. "While that’s better than the rest of California, that’s still concerning," said David Alexander, president and chief executive of the foundation.


Congrats to the Bay Area. And let’s face it, since California is the center of the world, then Bay Area children are better off than the rest of the world.

We’re #1! We’re #1!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:22 am

May 16, 2010

Marin income No. 1 in state; population grows

Marin income No. 1 in state; population grows

Mark Prado

Posted: 04/30/2010 04:49:10 PM PDT

Marin has once again topped the state in median household income, according to figures released by the state this week.

Also, the county grew in population by .08 percent last year and is now at 260,651, the state reported.

Although Marin led the state with the highest median income for joint returns for the 2008 tax year at $118,704, that was a decrease of 3.85 percent from 2007.

San Mateo County ranked second with $100,165, Santa Clara County third at $100,077, Contra Costa County fourth with $90,956 and Alameda County fifth with $88,138.

Marin, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have led California for 37 years in reported highest median incomes, according to the state Franchise Tax Board.

"That income level is important for our local economy," said Coy Smith, CEO of the Novato Chamber of Commerce. "If people are employed and earning a good salary it has a positive ripple effect on our local economy."

Congrats to Marin on this amazing accomplishment. The Bay Area is definitely on its way back to being at the top of all categories!

Comments (110) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:25 am

November 12, 2009

palo alto, median household income

It’s search engine Thursday.

Recently someone found this site by searching for: palo alto, median household income

This is actually a very tricky question.

According to City Data, the median income in Palo Alto in 2007 was $102,565.

According to Zillow, the median income in Palo Alto is $90,377.

According to the Bay Area Census, the median family income in Palo Alto in the last 12 months is $153,197 and the median household income in Palo Alto is $119,046.

Without a doubt, $153,197 is the closest number to the truth.

However, even then this is skewed because it includes all the people who don’t need to work to live in Palo Alto. For example, the neighbor of this house for sale who pays just $1370 a year in property tax. These people, who incidentally may just as likely be 21 years old, as they are 81 years old (because the low tax rate can be passed to kin), need to be discounted since let’s face it, they have no income for all intents and purposes.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a chart that shows the distribution of income in Palo Alto. Without that, one can only assume.

So, if you exclude the income free Prop-13 enhanced people in Palo Alto, my magical calculation reveals that the median household income is close to $300,000.

Using a health Californian multiple of spending 5x (because it’s risk free) of your income on housing, that means that a median Palo Alto family can afford a $1.5 million dollar house.

And wouldn’t you know it? That’s just about the same as the median listing price according to Redfin.

Question closed.

Updated: Thanks to Burbed reader SanMatean for this chart:


Comments (80) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:22 am

August 16, 2009

Mountain View Voice : Report: Silicon Valley jobs decline while pay increases

Mountain View Voice : Report: Silicon Valley jobs decline while pay increases
Despite record unemployment rates, some sectors of Silicon Valley’s high-tech economy continue to shine, according to a report released Wednesday.

“While the employment picture may sound a bit negative, the wage picture was much more sunny,” said Amar Mann, regional economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who co-authored the report titled “After the Dot-Com Bubble: Silicon Valley High-Tech Employment and wages in 2001 and 2008.”

Mann said the six-county Silicon Valley region lost more than 85,000 high-tech jobs between 2001 and 2008, a decline of about 17 percent.

The region comprises Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties.
However, the average Silicon Valley tech worker’s salary grew by 36 percent during the same period, from about $97,000 a year in 2001 to $132,000 a year in 2008, Mann said.

By contrast, salaries nationwide grew by just 25 percent between 2001 and 2008, he said.

I don’t know about you, but is excellent news. This means that we’re finally getting rid of all the undesirable, ignorant, people from Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley will be now the true center of the intelligent world. Seriously. If you’re not clearing $85,000 – please just leave. Please. You’re a disgrace to the Bay Area. Thank you.

Comments (60) -- Posted by: burbed @ 6:32 am

July 19, 2008

Bay Area – highest median family income

Best places to live 2008 – Top 25: Biggest earners – from MONEY Magazine

Biggest earners
Here are towns from the Best Places database with the highest median family income.
Rank City Median 2007 family income
1 New Canaan, CT $231,138
2 Darien, CT $218,130
3 Lake Forest, IL $212,122
4 Saratoga, CA $196,420
5 Westport, CT $193,540
6 Los Altos, CA $189,839
7 Potomac, MD $183,258
8 McLean, VA $180,103
9 Wellesley, MA $172,900
10 University Park, TX $170,150
11 Bethesda, MD $167,043
12 Southlake, TX $166,878
13 Danville, CA $160,560
14 Greenwich, CT $157,232
15 Ridgewood, NJ $153,436
16 Manhattan Beach, CA $151,258
17 La Canada Flintridge, CA $150,985
18 Bloomfield Township, MI $150,969
19 Los Gatos, CA $150,556
20 Wilmette, IL $149,667
21 Lafayette, CA $149,597
22 Dranesville, VA $149,294
23 Deerfield, IL $148,612
24 Highland Park, IL $148,131
25 Garden City, NY $147,804

Thanks to Madhaus for pointing this out. Congrats to the Bay Area for taking a whopping 4 out of the top 25 cities with highest median incomes.

NY only has 1 and it’s in dirt cheap Long Island. CT has a few, but those hedge funders are doomed anyway.

I think the most important metric, what really defines how special a place is, is the “Family purchasing power”. Let’s look at the last few:

  • Los Gatos: $440,376
  • Garden City: $273,437
  • Greenwich: $604,400

Ouch. Greenwich beat Los Gatos. <sigh>

What can we do to make living here more expensive so that we can only have the best and brightest people here?

Sunnyvale is a top 100 city. Here’s why:

Median age 37.5 35.9
Completed at least some college
(% of residents)
77.2% 73.7%
Married 50.9% 57.5%
Divorced 9.0% 8.3%
Racial diversity index
(100 is national average; higher numbers indicate greater diversity)
308.9 104.2
Amount spent on vacations
(domestic and foreign, household avg. per year)
$8,352 $8,007

Check out that diversity index. You’ll never find a place as diverse as the Real Bay Area.

Comments (26) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:02 am