San Jose Realtor Holly Barr sold this burned-out home for more than $900,000. (Matt Levin/CALmatters)Technically, California has seen higher prices before. During the housing boom of the mid 2000s, the median statewide price nearly broke the $600,000 barrier (and that’s without adjusting for inflation). Many parts of California are still cheaper now than they were a decade ago.But Silicon Valley is not one of those places.The median price of a single family home in Santa Clara County — home of Apple and Google — hit $1.4 million in March of this year, according to data from the California Association of Realtors. That’s an all-time high.The region’s housing market has transformed any piece of available land into a veritable gold mine. No matter what sits on top of it.Real estate agent Holly Barr says she’s never had a listing generate as much attention as the one on Bird Avenue in the San Jose neighborhood of Willow Glen. The house caught fire two years ago during a remodeling job. What was left was a burned-out husk of a California bungalow sitting on 5,800 square feet of land.When Barr put the property on the market in April for $800,000, the listing made international headlines. It sold for over $900,000 — in less than a week. The burned down house will be razed and a new property will be built there that will likely sell for far more.“I wasn’t surprised,” said Barr. “It’s not about the house, it’s about the land and location.”It’s also not a surprise that with unliveable wrecks selling for that much, residents are starting to look for other places to live.According to data from the California Department of Finance, Santa Clara County lost 17,000 more residents to other parts of the state or country than they gained last year. That’s the second biggest net domestic migration loss of any county in the state.Los Angeles: A Fixer-Upper, or a House Smaller Than Your Expectations
A fixer-upper east of downtown Los Angeles is on the market for more than $500,000. (Courtesy of Jenn Cahill)Los Angeles County saw the largest drop in net domestic migration, losing 58,000 more residents than it brought in. The region tops the list partly because it’s simply so huge. More than 10 million people call it home, which means any population shift in L.A. County is likely to dwarf other parts of California.But the rising cost of housing is also playing a role. The county’s median home price broke the $600,000 barrier late last year. In a region famous for sprawl, prices are getting prohibitively expensive in and around L.A.’s downtown core.Los Angeles real estate agent Jenn Cahill specializes in neighborhoods east of downtown Los Angeles like Boyle Heights. She says she gets approached by young families with budgets of $500,000 all the time. Which means a lot of her role is adjusting expectations.“You walk into a bedroom, and they immediately think it’s a closet,” says Cahill. “And you’re like, no, no ,no, it’s a bedroom, with a little shoebox closet in the corner.”Cahill says options are limited if you want to stay relatively close to downtown — you could find a fixer-upper closer to your job, or you could choose to go farther out and commute.A recent study found that Southern California commutes were the most stressful in the country.Sacramento: A Large Suburban Home That’s Luring More and More CaliforniansA house in the Elk Grove suburb of Sacramento priced at nearly $500,000.
A house in the Elk Grove suburb of Sacramento priced at nearly $500,000. (Courtesy Veronica Nelson)Where are housing refugees from the Bay Area and Los Angeles going? Many are heading to the Sacramento area, where $500,000 still gets you pretty nice digs.Sacramento saw the largest population growth of any major city in California last year, breaking 500,000 residents for the first time. Where did they come from? Topping the list were L.A. and Santa Clara counties.Why? A five-bed, three-bath home in Elk Grove, an affluent Sacramento suburb, goes for $490,000. Realtor Veronica Nelson specializes in showing what middle class Bay Area families can get 90 miles East.“I’ve had teachers, Kaiser employees. They commute [to the Bay],” says Nelson. “Spend a night or two with a relative in the Bay Area, and make the best of it.”Nelson says she often talks with other Sacramento real estate agents about the influx of residents from costlier parts of the state. She worries that Sacramento is becoming unaffordable to Sacramentans — and knows some clients that are pushing even farther East.Reno, Nevada: A Big Home, But Maybe Not as Big as You ThinkA five bed, three bath house in Reno is listed at $498,000. “