Pleasanton Weekly

Real Estate - October 22, 2010

Pleasanton, 10 other California cities lead U.S. as 'priciest'

Newport Beach continues to top Coldwell Banker's nationwide real estate survey

by Jeb Bing

Despite the recession and some cities showing high foreclosure rates, California and the Bay Area continue to lead the country with the priciest real estate markets.

Pleasanton was 14th on the list, with an average sales price of $896,488 in a survey by Coldwell Banker -- called the 2010 "Home Listing Report."

The survey compared the prices of typical four-bedroom, two-bath homes in various parts of the country between February and August 2010 from nearly 300 select U.S. markets where Coldwell Banker Real Estate has a presence.

The U.S. average for the surveyed listings was approximately $353,000.

Not surprisingly, Newport Beach led the list of most expensive real estate markets in America, with an average home listing price of approximately $1.83 million. By contrast, the country's "most affordable" housing market was Detroit, with an average home listing price of approximately $68,000.

Known for its sandy beaches and historic Balboa Pavilion (established in 1906), Newport Beach, the most expensive market, has been the backdrop to numerous television shows including "The O.C." and "Arrested Development." Detroit, the most affordable market, is the only major U.S. city that looks south to Canada. Residents of the Motor City take great pride in Red Wings hockey and appreciate the city's hard-working industrial and automotive history.

Among the top 20 most expensive markets, Pleasanton and other familiar Bay Area cities appear again in this year's survey. Palo Alto ranked second in the report at $1.48 million; San Francisco was fourth at $1.33 million; San Rafael was 11th at $956,654; the Monterey Peninsula was 12th at $926,616; Pleasanton was 14th; San Mateo was 15th at $890,961; and Santa Cruz was 17th at $868,217.

Even so, Jim Gillespie, chief executive officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC., said home ownership in the U.S. is generally affordable, with nearly 30 percent of the studied markets averaging $200,000 or less for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, "a size many buyers aspire to own."

"Today those who have the financial resources and a desire to move up to a larger home have a unique opportunity to take advantage of historically low mortgage interest rates coupled with comparatively lower prices and greater selection," he added.

2010 Coldwell Banker U.S. Home Listing Report Highlights:

* America's Most Affordable Markets: In addition to Detroit, America's most affordable real estate markets are as varied in culture and trivia as they are in listing price ranges:

* Grayling, Mich., is home to many top cross-country skiing destinations.

* Sioux City, Iowa, has been recognized as a top U.S. economic community for areas between 50,000 and 200,000 people.

* Cleveland, Ohio, is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

* Muncie, Ind., has gained notoriety for its successful prep sports programs.

* Norfolk, Neb., is home to many healthcare and manufacturing companies.

* Kansas City, Mo., is just behind Rome, Italy, for the largest number of fountains in a city (more than 200).

* Canton, Ohio, is home to the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

* Port Huron, Mich., features the School of Strings, which presents over 50 concerts a year with its Fiddle Club, Faculty and Student Ensembles.

* Topeka, Kan., was once temporarily renamed "Topikachu," in honor of the Pokémon franchise.

Homeownership Affordability:

In total, there are 85 U.S. markets in the HLR with average reported listing prices less than $200,000. There are 183 markets (out of a total of 296 surveyed) that are less than $300,000.

Great Midwest: Michigan has three markets on the most affordable housing list (Detroit, Grayling and Port Huron), and all 10 of the most affordable markets are in the Midwest.

Low Monthly Payments: Put in perspective, a $200,000 30-year-fixed mortgage at a 4.5% rate could cost a buyer a relatively low monthly mortgage payment of just above $1,000. The average $68,000 four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Detroit could average less than $350 a month.

Pacific Paradise: Out of the 20 most expensive real estate markets, 11 are from California: Newport Beach, Palo Alto, San Francisco, La Jolla, Pasadena, Santa Barbara, San Rafael, the Monterey Peninsula, Pleasanton, San Mateo and Santa Cruz.

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