At the end of 2021, the regional median home price eclipsed the previous peak set in 2006 in inflation-adjusted terms.
In 2006 after reaching an inflation-adjusted high of just over $1.1 million, the median home sale price began to decline as the housing market bubble collapsed and the Great Recession set in. The median home sale price in the Bay Area hit a low of $659,000 in 2012, after adjusting for inflation. However, prices increased significantly during the 2010s.
By 2021, the median home price in the Bay Area had risen to $1,166,000—an inflation-adjusted 77% increase since 2012—as the region’s robust job market and growing population have increased the demand for housing in an already supply-constrained market. Consistently high home prices reflect the region’s failure to produce the housing needed over the past half-century, limiting access for newcomers to the market.
Bay Area home sale prices went up by 70% in inflation-adjusted dollars between 2000 and 2021
Historical Trend for Home Prices
Communities in Solano County are the least expensive options for homebuyers in the region, while Silicon Valley communities in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties have the highest home prices.
The most affordable housing options in the Bay Area are located in Solano County, where in 2021 the median home sale price ($538k) is approximately 50% lower than the regional median of $1.12 million. While homes in this area are often newer and more affordable than the region as a whole, residents may face higher commute costs and longer travel times due to their distance from major job centers. Additionally, lower wages can result in homeowners in these locations spending more of their income on housing than in more expensive and affluent parts of the region. However, these communities play a critical role in providing relatively affordable access within the overall regional housing market.
At the other end of the spectrum, the median home sale prices in cities throughout the region can be double or triple the regional median. For example, in 2021 the top 3 cities in the Bay Area with the highest median home prices were Atherton ($7.10 million), Hillsborough ($4.96 million) and Los Altos Hills ($4.92 million). It is also notable that while the regional median home price has increased 70% the past two decades in inflation-adjusted terms, a number of cities have seen substantially larger increases. Median home prices have more than doubled in 11 Bay Area cities between 2000 and 2021, with seven of these cities located in Alameda County. Among the region’s three largest cities, Oakland has seen the largest inflation-adjusted growth in home prices since 2000 at 108%, while home price growth in San Jose and San Francisco has still been substantial but is closer to the regional median.
In 2021 the median home price in Solano County was $538k, the most affordable among Bay Area counties
In 2021 the median home price in Alameda County was $1.08 million, middle of the pack among Bay Area counties
In 2021 the median home price in San Mateo County was $1.54 million, the most expensive among Bay Area counties
Home Prices by Year for Cities and Zip Codes
Zoom in to see more details, including median home prices for ZIP codes. Click on a shape on the map for more information.
As of 2021, the Bay Area was the most expensive housing market in the United States.
With mild climates, dynamic economies and constrained housing markets, California’s two largest metro areas lead the nation in home prices. In fact, the Bay Area has led the nation, followed by Los Angeles, every single year between 2000 to 2021. In 2021, Bay Area home prices were approximately double those of New York and Washington metro areas, and triple those of the Miami, Dallas and Atlanta metro areas. With home prices 44% higher than the next most expensive metro area (Los Angeles), the Bay Area is truly in a league of its own when it comes to the cost of buying a home. We also note that from 2000 to 2021, home prices increased in all major metropolitan areas across the United States. In real terms, the fastest growth has been in Los Angeles, followed by other sunbelt cities such as Miami and Dallas.
At just under $1.2 million, Bay Area median home sale prices were the most expensive in the nation in 2021
Metro Comparison for Home Prices
Sources & Methodology
Housing price estimates at the regional-, county-, city- and zip code-level come from analysis of individual home sales by Zillow based upon transaction records. Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) is a smoothed, seasonally adjusted measure of the typical home value and market changes across a given region and housing type. It reflects the typical value for homes in the 35th to 65th percentile range. ZHVI is computed from public record transaction data as reported by counties. All standard real estate transactions are included in this metric, including REO sales and auctions. Zillow makes a substantial effort to remove transactions not typically considered a standard sale. Examples of these include bank takeovers of foreclosed properties, title transfers after a death or divorce and non arms-length transactions. Zillow defines all homes as single-family residential, condominium and co-operative homes with a county record. Single-family residences are detached, which means the home is an individual structure with its own lot. Condominiums are units that can be owned in a multi-unit complex, such as an apartment building. Co-operative homes are slightly different from condominiums in that the homeowners own shares in the corporation that owns the building, not the actual units themselves.
For metropolitan area comparison values, the Bay Area metro area’s median home sale price is the population-weighted average of the nine counties’ median home prices. Data is adjusted for inflation using Bureau of Labor Statistics metropolitan statistical area (MSA)-specific series. Inflation-adjusted data are presented to illustrate how home prices have grown relative to overall price increases; that said, the use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) does create some challenges given the fact that housing represents a major chunk of consumer goods bundle used to calculate CPI. This reflects a methodological tradeoff between precision and accuracy and is a common concern when working with any commodity that is a major component of the CPI itself.
Zillow: Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI)
California Department of Finance: E-4 Historical Population Estimates for Cities, Counties, and the State
US Census Population and Housing Unit Estimates
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Consumer Price Index
US Census ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs)
2020 Census Blocks