Watch CBS News

Bay Area In 2010s: Soaring Real Estate Prices Ending The California Dream

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Located on a nice, quiet Daly City neighborhood street, the 1,570-square foot, three-bedroom, two-bath house at 872 N Mayfair Ave. would be considered a nice starter home in much of the nation.

But it's actually a poster child for the crazy skyward spiral of Bay Area home prices over the last 10 years.

For many, it's all become too much and they have relocated elsewhere or even been driven to living on the street or in RVs and cars. San Francisco's homeless problem has drawn nationwide attention all the way to the Trump White House.

For others, the soaring costs have forced them to buy homes located hours from their offices, in far-flung towns that were once rural farmlands but are now Bay Area suburbs. The eastward exodus has given rise to a mind-numbing affliction known as super commuting.

According to Zillow, 872 N Mayfair Ave. was valued at $649,100 in 2010. When it went onto the market in 2019, the same home was commanding a $1.2 million pricetag.

Zillow photo


Santa Clara residents Ashley Joyce, her husband and their one-year old daughter have moved back to their native Ohio after three years in the Golden State, their California dream having come to an end.

"There's a lot of heartache that we are leaving a place that we love, but ultimately we know it's the right choice," Ashley told KPIX 5 as she prepared for her move in July.

The Joyce family was not alone by any means. A survey by the Bay Area Council polled 1,000 residents from all nine Bay Area counties and found leaving the region was top of the mind for many.

Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley, had the highest number of people looking for a new address outside the Bay Area.

"It's too expensive, it's too expensive for everyone, to have a normal life, the traffic is terrible," Erica Sanchez of Santa Clara told KPIX 5, citing the top two reasons among Bay Area residents who want to leave.

Forty percent of those polled were looking to less expensive pastures. Among millennials, 46 percent were inclined to leave in the next few years.

Sanchez, 30, was among those millennials considering a move for her and her family. She pays $3,500 a month to rent a two bedroom in Santa Clara.

"We're thinking maybe Tracy, Lathrop, we've even thought about Antioch," Sanchez said.

But even moving became a challenge during the decade as relocation companies struggled at times with a shortage of vans.

"All the van lines are in the same situation," said Chris Mayer of Macy Movers. "They get a good size load coming out of California and then they are trying to get the drivers back in here with another load. But they don't come back full, they are partially empty. So it's tough to make money for the drivers."

And where were residents going?

According to statistics, the top three destinations for out-of-state moves from the Bay Area were Seattle, Portland and Austin, Texas.

In a recent survey, four of the 10 most expensive zip codes in the United States were found in the Bay Area with the wealthy Peninsula enclave of Atherton leading the way.

According to the 2019 survey by PropertyShark, the 94027 zip code topped the list for the third straight year, with the median sale price rising five percent to $7,050,000.

Home to large estates in the shadow of Silicon Valley's biggest companies, the median price in Atherton is 63 percent higher than the second most expensive zip code on the list, Sagaponack, New York (median price $4,300,000).

Three other Bay Area zip codes were in the top 10, including Palo Alto's 94301 (median price $3.52 million), Los Altos' 94022 ($3.45 million) and Ross' 94957 ($3.35 million). In last year's analysis, the Bay Area had five of the top 10 spots.

Not surprising for anyone looking for a new home, the region remained the most expensive area in the country, containing 55 of the 125 most expensive zip codes on PropertyShark's list.

The Bay Area also had some of the highest rents in the country, with median one-bedroom rent in San Francisco surging to $3,700 a month earlier this year.

San Francisco itself had 13 zip codes on the most expensive list, up from nine zip codes last year. Covering the Marina and Cow Hollow neighborhoods, zip code 94123 was the city's priciest and 38th most expensive nationally, with a median home price of $2.005 million.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara County had 17 zip codes on the 100 priciest list, followed by San Mateo County with 11, Marin County with 7, Contra Costa County with 4 and Alameda County with 3.

The soaring costs have given rise to many eye-opening offerings. For example, there was a shack in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood that hit the market for a jaw-dropping price.

Located on the 800 block of Carolina Street, the home listed for $2.5 million was in such bad shape, potential buyers couldn't even step foot inside. In fact, it came with a demolition permit.

In pricey Palo Alto, a 11,375-square-foot empty lot at 1628 Bryant St. carried with it a $9 million pricetag.

A burned out home in San Francisco's Castro District that city officials dubbed a "drug den" sold for $2 million, far above its asking price.

A 640-square-foot cottage in San Francisco's Cole Valley hit the market for $1.38 million. The cottage on 1537 Cole St. was purchased in 1973 for $37,000 by a Swiss banker.

Other examples of high-priced teardowns include homes in Fremont, Mountain View and San Jose.

Not surprisingly, the hottest neighborhood for home sales wasn't found in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley as the decade came to an end.

Redfin's 2019 survey found that home sales in San Carlos' White Oaks neighborhood had evolved into rabid bidding wars.

The small neighborhood of mostly bungalows built between the 1920s and 1950s was number one on Redfin's list of 20 most competitive neighborhoods in the country for homebuyers, which means if you're looking to buy a home in the area, you'll have to pay up and buy quickly.

"Wow, I didn't know it was that competitive," said White Oaks resident Ryan Connolly.

According to Redfin, the neighborhood's average home price is $1.835 million, with more than 72% of the homes selling above the asking price.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.