Let’s Check In With The California Real Estate Market

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After nearly two years of working here at OutKick, I tend to think I know what will get you guys to click on a post: Instagram models, California nonsense and real estate prices. Let’s face it, these vices never go out of style, and I’m going right down into that well again today because we have to address what’s STILL going on with the California real estate bubble.

Here we have a 5-bedroom, two-bathroom 2,260 sq. ft. house built in 1920 that sold this week in Mill Valley, CA for $1,581,000 OVER the asking price.

Take a look at the listing photos. We’re talking a nice California home with a yard with a lemon tree. We’re talking a nice yard to roll around in the grass. The front porch is nice. The master bathroom is updated. The rooms are basic. The kitchen is nice, but nothing extravagant.

HOW IN THEEE HELL did someone pay $4,576,000 to live in this house? Someone explain this to me. I don’t care if Sycamore Ave. is the best damn street in America and that you can walk to the French creperie around the block. I took one look at the Google StreetMap for this place, and I was out. I don’t care if I had 5,000 Bitcoins locked up in my super-secret virtual wallet and they were burning a hole in my virtual pocket.

Look at this street view. Complete chaos for parking. Is that even a two-way street? You’ll never guess where the nearest Costco is located. That’s right, you have to drive into San Francisco to go get a 24-pack of butt wipes. If there’s good news, it’s that Whole Foods is .8 miles down the road for those $300 grocery runs.

I have $1,000 that these people don’t do garage beers and most likely don’t even talk to each other. Patio Busch Lights? Forget it. So how does THIS end up selling for $4.5 million?

According to February housing data, the highest-priced market is in Santa Maria, CA where the median listing price of all homes is at $1.625 million, Realtor.com reports. Why? The lack of listings.

Prices are skyrocketing, according to the listing site, because of a shortage of 5.8 million single-family homes.

“The shortage of inventory has led to a fast pace of sales, with buyers snapping up properties as soon as they hit the market,” says George Ratiu, a Realtor.com economist. “Moreover, the surge in mortgage rates in the first six weeks of the year further prompted buyers to find a home before rates move even higher. These factors have pushed median prices to record highs, not only in the hottest markets but across the entire country.”

Crazy California real estate prices

So where are these hottest housing markets? Realtor’s data shows that it’s not just California and across the south that are on fire. Look at Fort Wayne, IN coming in at No. 13.

Hottest Metros Hotness Rank Hotness Rank YoY Median Listing Price
Manchester, NH 1 6 $439,900
Santa Cruz, CA 2 12 $1,243,250
Raleigh, NC 3 46 $430,000
Springfield, MA 4 81 $317,250
Topeka, KS 5 6 $184,950
Rochester, NY 6 9 $225,000
Boulder, CO 7 115 $851,742
Portland, ME 8 36 $522,000
Salinas, CA 9 58 $909,000
Vallejo, CA 10 -6 $593,500
Burlington, NC 11 -10 $314,253
North Port, FL 12 118 $547,500
Fort Wayne, IN 13 17 $289,900
Columbia, MO 14 7 $337,500
Fort Collins, CO 15 45 $620,000
Concord, NH 16 -10 $464,900
Columbus, OH 17 6 $324,950
Santa Maria, CA 18 15 $1,625,000
Billings, MT 19 24 $567,450
Worcester, MA 20 35 $424,000

Now, I get the logical answers to how someone pays $4.5 million for a fairly basic 2,200 sq. ft. California house.

  1.  The buyer works in the area and makes a ton of money, so he/she/they bought it
  2.  The wife really loved the charm
  3.  It’s close to everything
  4.  OMG, they can walk to the little downtown area
  5.  They aren’t building more houses in that area

How are those house searches going in your areas? Are people blowing $1.5M to out-bid competitors? Let me know.

Email: joekinsey@gmail.com

Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.


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  1. Trying to buy a house near Ann Arbor to live in while my wife gets her PhD. Cannot find a 3 bed 2 bath house with a garage for less than $300k. I paid half of that for a house the same size 2 years ago. This market is wild. There is plenty of cheap property in Detroit though!! :/

  2. Crazy, huh. The exodus of trying to live right humans from this god-forsaken state is impressive. Problem tho, same folks are selling for gazillions and raising the market in places they are fleeing to. Look at Nashville/ Franklin TN. I was entertaining an offer there only to find in the deep dive that the bubble there has burst dramatically over the last year. Just looking at rentals in that area, I noticed a $1000.00 to $1200.00 jump from just last summer. Why? California refugees are raising the prices where they go with the lottery winnings from selling their shacks on the way out. You start seeing California plates cruizing your neighborhood, hold on because in the next few years you too might be priced out of Hooterville.

    • As someone who lives in (and just sold and bought a new home in) Nashville/Franklin, yes there were a number of people from CA/out of state making offers on our home, but most just wanted to live in Williamson County instead of Davidson…very simple move from Blue government to Red made all the difference.

  3. They must be idiots. Not necessarily for paying what they did. If you have 20 yrs experience and are with a tech company, you’re probably making 250K a year plus gajillion stock options. Wouldn’t be surprise if it was a cash deal. But for THAT house. I wouldn’t even give it a look. I lived in Cali for 26 years. North Bay doesn’t get a lot of rain annually, but it’s not unusual for a winter storm to dump 2 inches in a day, sometimes much more. The drive to that below level garage will be great at funneling prodigious amounts of water into said garage. But maybe there’s a pool in there and the rain helps fill it.

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