Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Housing Prices

We’ve all seen housing prices going up through the stratosphere these last few years. We keep hearing predictions that the housing bubble is about to burst, and meanwhile prices keep going up and up and up.

But even knowing all this, it’s still a shocker to look at this chart. It shows the five hundred most expensive zip codes in the U.S. It shows the town, county and state of each zip code and the median home price. OUCH!

You expect the obvious places to be on this list. The Hamptons, Beverly Hills, Grosse Pointe, yada yada yada. But there are some real shockers on this list too. It’s so weird to think of a town you haven’t been to in awhile — that you remember as a nondescript ordinary town, or just a wide spot in the road — and then find out that the median home price is over a million dollars. Whew! What’s going on??

New York, New Jersey and California have the most zip codes on this chart, but there are surprises everywhere. Goleta, CA: Beautiful scenery (it’s about ten miles north of Santa Barbara), and the University of California at Santa Barbara is just outside of town. I remember the town itself as being pretty nondescript — I haven’t been there in a long time — and now the median home price is $824,000. The town may have more than one zip code; the last time I saw it, it wasn’t big enough to need more than one.

When we left Sonoma County, CA a year and a half ago, it was already getting more crowded than Coney Island and ritzier and snootier than Beverly Hills. But still: three quaint bucolic little towns in Sonoma County — Occidental, Bodega Bay and Penngrove — all have median home prices over $800,000. Penngrove! If you’re old enough to remember the song “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum — he owned a chicken farm in Penngrove. As far as I know, he never left. Just a funky little downtown area with a few old buildings and a few residential streets — you could probably cover the entire “city limits” in just a short walk — and now the median home price is over $800,000.

Check out the list. You’ll probably be going “What the F%$#&#!!” just like I was.


Blogger Mike V. said...

very interesting.
I'm kind of shocked at some of the zip codes in NYC that I expected to be really high in the upper west and east sides are not. nor is the crime index high in any of the ones that I searched in Manhattan (NY county)
Lower East Side had some of the cheapest, of course. And, not that many crack whores anymore..

Rancho Santa Fe here in San Diego Co was just about tops, of course.
Home to Duke Cunningham, no less. Well, not anymore.

April 27, 2006 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike V.: That's true, some of the places I expected to see weren't on the list, or they placed a lot lower than I thought they would. Rancho Santa Fe, isn't that where that Magic Pudding guru had his mansion? The guy who persuaded all his followers to eat this poison pudding and they'd be whisked off to Paradise, or something like that. In 1997. I think it was Rancho Santa Fe. It's funny what towns get famous for.

April 27, 2006 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger frstlymil said...

Yeah, that's why those of us in the middle class live in one bedroom apartments in places like L.A. For a real treat that will knock your socks off - with pictures - check out: http://overvalued.blogspot.com

April 28, 2006 at 5:39 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

My parents bought a house in Sonoma County in 1972 for $22,000.

It has appreciated significantly since then.

April 28, 2006 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Frstlymil: Thanks for that link. Interesting stuff. I've got it bookmarked.

Praguetwin: $22,000 in 1972 -- Man, they're sitting on a gold mine.

April 28, 2006 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger Mike V. said...

Rancho Santa Fe was where those crazy Heaven's Gate weirdos lived, yea.
They thought they were going to be picked up by a comet, or a spaceship or something.
They died with their black Nikes on..

April 28, 2006 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike V.: Yup, that was it, Heaven's Gate. I couldn't remember that name. For years there were all these jokes about pudding and comets.

April 28, 2006 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Jim Marquis said...

My son is 24 and starting to get really worried about ever being able to buy a house remotely close to Seattle. He's building his credit and my wife and I are trying to help him put together a down payment but it's going to be a real struggle...

April 28, 2006 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

J. Marquis: Yeah, Seattle's getting pretty bad too. I think West of Seattle -- Shelton and some of those other towns along 101 north of Olympia -- might be cheaper, but I can't swear to that.

Good luck.

April 28, 2006 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

J. Marquis,

I wouldn't be trying to buy right now. I don't know if the bubble will burst, but there is significant risk. I'd give it a couple of years in this market.

But who knows, maybe it will only get harder.

April 30, 2006 at 2:25 AM  

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