Bay Area Real Estate – What Will Your Money Buy?

The country might not have fully recovered from the Great Recession, but housing prices are almost back to their pre-recession levels. According to the San Jose Mercury News:

With Bay Area home prices at levels not seen in nearly five years, the communities hit hardest by the housing crash are starting to boom again.

From Oakley and Antioch to East Oakland, East Palo Alto and East San Jose, all-cash offers and free rent for a month for sellers are sweetening bids as a swarm of move-in buyers and investors compete for a relatively small number of homes for sale.

On average, home values have increased by more than 20% over the last five years.20130522_081220_ssjm0523lowend90_500

Which leads those of us who are real estate curios to wonder exactly what our money will buy. I took a Bay Area tour through to take a look at the highs, lows and the somewhere in between. Enjoy!

Let’s start with the high:


At $38,500,000, this six bedroom 12 bath English estate inspired home in Burlingame might seem extravagant to some, but at with more than six acres of land and almost 40,000 square feet, it’s a dream for those who like to entertain.


For those who are a bit more budget-conscious, there’s this home in Pittsburg. At just $65,000, one would imagine that a buyer should come armed with a hammer, nails and some fix up money.

While most homes in the Bay Area are valued at well over $200,000, lower priced homes can be found in Oakland, Richmond, Vallejo and some of the outer areas.

To find the approximate median price, I took the unscientific method of going to the halfway point in the 67 pages of listings. Several homes were listed at $729,000, and they were scattered from San Francisco to Walnut Creek to Novato.


$729,900 in Novato – four bedrooms, four baths and about 3,000 square feet.


$729,000 in San Francisco will buy you a modest two bedrooms, one bath and 1,200 square feet.

The median income in the Bay Area is under $50,000 per year. According to, that income would qualify someone for a home valued at around $200,000.  I decided to top out my search at $220,000. My 67 pages of listings quickly dwindled to just four. Again, most listings were in Richmond, Oakland and Vallejo. This three bedroom, one bath in Hayward listed at $220,000.


For a bit more space, this 1,800 square foot home in Vallejo is listed at $215,000.


Most Bay Area home buyers probably have incomes. That puts the average home buyer at being able to afford about $400,000 (which would have a mortgage of around $2,600 per month). In that range, selection might be limited, but properties are available from Novato to San Francisco and back to the East Bay.

If you crave the city vibe and you don’t need a lot of space, this two bedroom two bath in Southeast San Francisco might be your dream home at a San Francisco bargain of $400,000.


For something more family friendly, this Concord four bedroom two bath could suit you at $400,000.