December 9, 2012

10 Least Affordable Metros: We Are Number 2. You Are Number 6.

CNN/Money has another one of their Most/Least/Best/Worst/Good/Evil slideshows that could have been presented as a table, but then they'd get ten fewer click-throughs. This time it's one of our favorite regional competitions, for 10 Least Affordable Cities for buying. Actually it's Least Affordable Metros, but it sounds better if they call them cities, even if a couple of them are known locales for multiple Portals to Hell and very few yachts or polo ponies.

10 least affordable cities to buy a home


Looking to buy a home? You may want to skip these places. Prices are either so high or incomes so low that many families can't afford to buy homes here, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

Anyway, we lost to New York City again, which is just so unfair. This isn't even an SF to Manhattan comparison, so we should have kicked serious butt here. However, California totally owns the Least Coast as far as leaderboard spots, and Washington DC didn't even qualify. We present the results in one easy list, so you don't have to click through their annoying one-city-at-a-time-gee-who-could-be-next-and-if-this-was-so-exciting-why-didn't-they-put-it-in-reverse-order-Top-Ten-List-style?

  1. New York, where 28.5% of homes are affordible. They seemed impressed by $1100 a square foot, too. But they didn't define the boundaries of any of these metro areas, so of course we can (and will) complain we were cheated on geographical grounds. We doubt this was an apples-to-Big-Apples comparison.
  2. San Francisco, 31.4%. The piece laments it's unaffordable all over, because nearby communities are also expensive. Nearby high-priced places such as Sausalito, Berkeley, and… wait for it… Daly City. We swear we are not making this up.
  3. Santa Ana, 43.5%. I kid you not. Perhaps the nearby beach towns are pulling up its results. And Disneyland. Because Santa Ana is not what comes to mind when we think “delightful but so unaffordable California real estate.”
  4. Los Angeles, 44.1%. Because “bunus” hydrocarbons and ozone raise home prices. Seriously, when did LA rediscover the bubbly?
  5. Bridgeport, Connecticut, 44.2%. Look, if you have to tell us what state the metro is in, maybe it isn't really worth mentioning. Just sayin'.
  6. San Jose, 46.2%. Above is the lovely photo they used to feature the Capital of Silicon Valley, probably because the Quetzlcoatl statue made the photog drop a perfectly good camera. Not one other metro had a freeway interchange featured. Not even Los Angeles, which loves its freeways so much they get definite articles. We suspect they're also putting their thumb on the scale by adding in San Benito County.
  7. Honolulu, 48.8%. Houses cost more because of good weather, expensive shipping, and hotel jobs pay squat. But they get a photo with palm trees.
  8. San Diego, 54.6%. Here the filler text spends more time lamenting the glory days of 6% affordability during the last bubble. Well screw you, because we're already on our next one.
  9. Newark, 55.3%. No, not that one, in New Jersey. Although Newark itself is cheap. It's la-di-da luxury locales like Hoboken and Jersey City that cost the big bucks. We're sure it's a complete coincidence that NJ made the list even though the feature author's surname is Christie.
  10. El Paso, 61.7%.This is an honest case of low overall incomes ($41.7K) as opposed to expensive housing ($141K).

Let us know if you find any of these results surprising, or what you plan to do to ensure we never lose to New York or LA or The OC ever again.. Or mention anything you want, because this is Your Weekend Open Thread.


Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

October 21, 2012

We’re Number… Three?

We lost out to both New York City and Washington DC, this time in the contest for the town with the highest earnings.  Here are the Top Ten, courtesy of CNN/Money, of the places with the highest median family incomes.

1 Bethesda, MD $184,606
2 Greenwich, CT $167,502
3 Palo Alto, CA $163,661
4 Newport Beach, CA $156,928
5 Lower Merion, PA $153,309
6 Ashburn, VA $146,093
7 Newton, MA $145,639
8 Hoboken, NJ $140,780
9 Brookline, MA $139,756
10 Fairfield, CT $136,808

People, this is not good. Not only did High Tech lose out to High Finance and High Crimes and Misdemeanors, but there’s Highly-wood right behind us. Also this list is disturbingly full of Least Coasters.

Here’s what they thought of The Specialest Place of Them All (Not Including Mountain View, because for Pete’s Sake, Palo Alto may be Special but it does Not Have Google Anymore).

3. Palo Alto, CA          3 of 25

121020-highincome-paPopulation: 65,260
Median family income: $163,661
Median home price: $1,225,000

Nestled in California’s Silicon Valley, Palo Alto has attracted a pile of tech companies — and their CEOs. Not only does tech granddaddy HP have its headquarters here, but so do newbies like Pinterest and Ning. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has a house in Palo Alto, as did Steve Jobs. Stanford University, which falls within its boundaries, adds to the city’s prestige.

Palo Alto nurtures startups and the money that results from their successes. Its residents reap the rewards. Area schools are exceptional, while the city has 35 parks and a Mediterranean climate that varies by only 20 degrees year-round.

See complete data and interactive map for Palo Alto

Did you know that Palo Alto’s climate was More Special than that of any of the surrounding Not As Special cities?  Perhaps Redwood City (Motto: Climate Best by Government Test) is going to have to come over and punch them out for getting airs.

Oh yeah, and Mark Zuckerberg is mostly hanging out in San Francisco these days.  Could he have picked up this little pied-a-terre?  Just kidding, that place was sold to a school, which is now awash in neighborhood NIMBY lawsuits.  But have a look at this SocketSite discussion and see if you can figure out where Mark bought.  Two possibilities: 366 Liberty or 376 Hill.


Comments (19) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

August 6, 2010

Best places for the rich and single in the Bay Area

Thanks to Burbed reader BK for this find!

6. Milpitas, CA

Milpitas, CA

Population: 67,503

Single: 30.4%

Median family income: $113,735

Ever dream of flying? Give it a try in this Silicon Valley town, which serves as the epicenter of Northern California’s hang gliding and paragliding community. Milpitas has one of the largest ratios of residents to parkland in the San Francisco Bay area. All that wide-open green space and a warm, Mediterranean-like climate make it great for outdoor sports all year-round, and young singles enjoy hiking, fishing and cycling in Ed R. Levin Park. Plus, the dog park there can be a great place to find puppy love. –A.C.

Go Milpitas! What? No mention of… The Smell?

7. Sunnyvale, CA

Sunnyvale, CA

Population: 133,876

Single: 30%

Median family income: $110,276

Geek is chic in this hub for tech companies, where you’re likely to meet an engineer from Yahoo!, Honeywell, Palm or Lockheed Martin at the latest Tweetup or “Tech and Beer” happy hour. Flirt over the latest gadgets and a cup of Joe at the Sunnyvale Art Gallery’s café, where Thursday is open mic night. Or take a romantic walk through the historic Murphy Avenue area downtown — a popular place for bar-hopping, open-air summer concerts and farmers markets. –A.C.

Congrats Sunnyvale! Nothing says chic like big box office buildings that you have to cross a giant parking lot to get to. Nope, nothing at all.

8. Mountain View, CA

Mountain View, CA

Population: 73,093

Single: 34.8%

Median family income: $109,215

With NASA and Google in town, Mountain View is the perfect place to find a rocket scientist. Googlers alone range from former neurosurgeons, CEOs and puzzle champions to alligator wrestlers and Marines, so there’s no shortage of interesting dates. But since eligible bachelors outnumber women in this town, the savviest singles may want to head to wine-tasting classes, get involved in a local charity, or try yoga — instead of standing around in a bar. –A.C.

Woot Mountain View! Wait… eligible bachelors outnumber women in this town? Only this town? No way!

BTW, where is this photo taken?

10. Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara, CA

Population: 110,200

Single: 34%

Median family income: $105,516

European-style streets lined with upscale shops, spas and restaurants give this Silicon Valley `burb a sophisticated appeal. Stroll along Santana Row for luxury boutiques and bars. Like many of Santa Clara’s neighboring towns, you’re likely to meet wealthy techies here, but that’s not all. Since the 49ers are headquartered here, you can also rub elbows with eligible single football players and cheerleaders. –A.C.

So true. You can’t walk a foot without bumping into a 49er.

Ok, confession: I did not know Santana Row was in Santa Clara. It’s so confusing over there.

15. San Jose, CA

San Jose, CA

Population: 948,279

Single: 31.3%

Median family income: $100,219

There’s a reason San Jose’s residents jokingly refer to their city as “Man Jose.” Since men outnumber women in Silicon Valley’s high-tech jobs, the dating scene is disproportionately male. Meet the dot-com millionaire of your dreams in the city’s downtown area, which offers a technology museum, several parks, free concerts, an outdoor ice rink in the winter and — great for those nerdy dates — the world’s largest outdoor Monopoly board. –A.C.

Dot-com millionaires? Whoa… dated. But nonetheless, congrats to Man Jose!

Comments (9) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:23 am

June 26, 2010

I’m shocked, shocked to find scamming going on in here!

Scamming the system for $8,000 tax credits

By Les Christie, staff writer
June 25, 2010: 10:24 AM ET

NEW YORK ( — Some homebuyers are angling to claim the $8,000 tax credit even though they missed the deadline.

To claim the credit, buyers had to sign contracts by April 30 and close the sales by June 30. But real estate agents say some buyers are demanding quick closing dates to meet the June 30 deadline, even though they failed to meet the April 30 deadline.

And because the IRS doesn’t require paperwork specifically proving the contract date, they might get away with it.

Can you believe it?  People are claiming a tax credit they aren’t eligible for!  Gee, who saw that one coming?

irs5405 CNN/Money reported yesterday that people are falsely submitting IRS Form 5405, the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, along with the required settlement statement (which is received at closing, not when the contract is signed).  5405 asks for the purchase date, and specifically whether the buyer was in contract before May 1st, 2010. The settlement statement only has to be signed by all parties if local law requires it, although the IRS suggests that the taxpayer sign it nonetheless.

Good luck figuring out whether you are entitled to claim the $8000.  It appears that a “long-term homeowner” (someone who lived in the same primary residence for 5 of the last 8 years) can also qualify for a $6500 tax credit.  Furthermore, this tax credit isn’t new this year.  What is new is the credit doesn’t have to be paid back over 15 years, as it was in 2008. But the IRS directions are quite clear that the deadlines are April 30th, 2010 for purchase and June 30th, 2010 for closing.

The IRS is keeping mum about how much it knows about this kind of fraud, except to say they have vigorous manual and systemic checks to detect potentially false claims. Anyone who submits fraudulent documentation to support any entries on their tax returns are filing false returns and risk possible civil or criminal penalties.

And even the Treasury Inspector General is keeping quiet, despite releasing a report on Tuesday about other abuses of the homebuyer tax credit – including prisoners claiming the benefits.

Wow, some people have all the luck.  Three squares a day, a roof without a mortgage, and homebuyer credits.  But if the idea of people scamming the US Treasury doesn’t surprise you, have some fun with these scenarios the IRS put together about the First-Time Homebuyer Credit.  Here’s my personal favorite:

image S6. I have been estranged from my spouse for over three years and file married filing separate. I don’t know if my spouse has owned a main home in the three-year period, but I did not. If I bought a house in 2009 that otherwise qualifies for the first-time homebuyer credit, can I claim the credit?

A. Section 36(c)(1) requires that the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s spouse not have an ownership interest in a principal residence within the three years prior to the date of purchase. While individuals do not have to be married to get the credit, marriage (and legal separation) imputes ownership of a previous home upon the other spouse. If your spouse has not owned a main home in the last three years, then you may claim the credit.

Nothing like those zany folks at the IRS expecting you to know what your estranged spouse is up to!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

May 8, 2010

Why does Fannie Mae hate freedom and innovation?

Fannie Mae to make qualifying for interest-only loans tougher

By Les Christie, staff writerApril 30, 2010: 5:53 PM ET

NEW YORK ( — Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage giant, announced Friday that it will tighten lending requirements for the interest-only loans and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) it backs.

To get a Fannie Mae-backed interest-only mortgage, for example, homebuyers will have to make down payments of 30% of the sale price.

Fannie will only buy those underwritten to ensure that borrowers could still afford payments even if their interest rates reset to the higher of either 1) the loan’s initial interest rate plus two percentage points or 2) the maximum the interest rate the loan can rise to, known in the industry as the cap rate.

Thanks to Burbed reader Derek for this find.

Frankly, this is a sad day for America. Why does Fannie Mae hate freedom and innovation? Requiring downpayments? Requiring borrowers be able to pay?

Damn government! Get off our backs!

Comments (49) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:23 am

October 11, 2009

What does a 4 bedroom house cost?

Home price comparison – Sep. 23, 2009

Same 4-bedroom house – wildly different prices
The cost of a middle-management-type home varies significantly depending on where in the country you live. But there are some huge spreads within states, as well.


10 least-affordable cities
Where a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath, 2,200-square-foot house costs the most.
Rank City State Price
1 La Jolla Calif. $2,125,000
2 Beverly Hills Calif. $1,981,750
3 Greenwich Conn. $1,519,250
4 Palo Alto Calif. $1,489,726
5 Santa Monica Calif. $1,460,912
6 San Francisco Calif. $1,363,250
7 Boston Mass. $1,337,578
8 Newport Beach Calif. $1,315,505
9 Palos Verdes Calif. $1,237,041
10 San Mateo Calif. $1,090,000
Source:Coldwell Banker Home

Congratulations to the Bay Area for such an impressive showing!

Just in the Top 10 list alone, there’s 3 Bay Area cities!

In the Top 25 (click the link to see the full article) there are 8 cities! Woot!

Our archnemesis New York? Just one: Queens. (Probably because there are no 4 bedroom houses in Manhattan.) Our archnemesis wannabe Seattle? Just one: Bellevue, and it’s all the way at 22. Hah.

I’m super thrilled with the showing of the Bay Area. We should all be very proud that we are right up there with Beverly Hills and Greenwich. Who needs Paris Hilton or Donald Trump! We’ve got the Flickr guys, the Facebook guys, and other celebs. Woot!

Comments (8) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:04 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

July 18, 2006

MONEY Magazine: Top 25 Pricey homes

MONEY Magazine: Best places to live 2006: Top 25 Pricey homes
Pricey homes / Home appreciation
Here are the cities with the highest median home price.
Rank City Median home
sale price 2005
1 Newport Beach, CA $1,362,500
2 Greenwich, CT $1,129,000
3 Santa Barbara, CA $979,500
4 Palo Alto, CA $929,000
5 Cupertino, CA $880,000
6 Goleta, CA $870,000
7 San Clemente, CA $848,500
8 Bethesda, MD $790,000
9 Pleasanton, CA $785,000
10 Santa Monica, CA $784,000
11 Redondo Beach, CA $777,500
12 Redwood City, CA $767,500
13 San Francisco, CA $755,000
14 Yorba Linda, CA $750,000
15 San Rafael, CA $745,000

Congrats to Palo Alto and Cupertino!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:27 am

April 4, 2006

Two Millionaire Counties Compared

Let’s compare two counties: Nassau County (outside of New York City) and Santa Clara County (you know where that is!)

First, a quote from the WSJ about Nassau County: – Mixed-Use Project Aims to Revitalize
Nassau County, which stretches just east of John F. Kennedy International Airport to the less densely populated Suffolk County, is home to about 1.3 million residents. In 2005 an estimated 17.5% of Nassau County households — or 78,816, the seventh-highest county total in the U.S — had net worths of $1 million or more, excluding the value of their primary residences, according to a division of TNS, a London-based research firm.

Nassau’s median home price rose in December to $482,000, well above the national median of $213,000, according to Moody’s Corp.’s Nassau’s employment level fell in June by 0.1% from a year earlier compared with the national gain of 1.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data.

Nassau County has the 7th highest number of millionaires, and the median home price is $482,000.

So where is Santa Clara?  The median home price is $670,000
– $188,000 more than Nassau. Actually, a more fair median home price for Santa Clara would be $740,000 as most homes in Nassau are houses. That makes the delta $258,000 – a quarter million.
Well the answer is here:

Report: Number of U.S. millionaires reaches record – Mar. 28, 2006
The millionaires next door
Ten counties across America with the highest number of millionaire residents.

Rank County No. of millionaire households
1 Los Angeles County, CA 262,800
2 Cook County, IL 167,873
3 Orange County, CA 113,299
4 Maricopa County, AZ 106,210
5 San Diego County, CA 100,030
6 Harris County, TX 96,593
7 Nassau County, NY 78,816
8 Santa Clara County, CA 75,371
9 Palm Beach County, FL 69,871
10 Middlesex County, MA 67,552

Bottomline: Santa Clara has fewer millionaires (especially by %), but has a median home price that is $258,000 more than Nassau County. And according to most cost of living calculators, the basics are more here in Santa Clara as well.
So does it make financial sense to live in the Silicon Valley?

Well, I guess you can’t put a price on sunshine.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am