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What Does $1 Million for a House Buy You in the Bay Area?

When you hear the phrase "Million Dollar Listing" you probably imagine a home with some of the finest touches. A custom home with every feature you can think of, lots of space and looks like it should be on TV or in a magazine. These are all things a million dollars should buy you when purchasing a home. However, for many of those house shopping in the Bay Area this is not exactly the case.

Properties that sell for $1M+ around here is the norm these days. I’ve worked with clients that can afford this price point without issue, so that's not the problem. What most of these buyers have a gripe with, is the type of house they're getting for that million dollars spent. They are not getting any of the bells and whistles that one would assume comes with that price tag. In some cities $1M will barely buy you a “fixer-upper”. It's kind of like paying for a 2019 Mercedes Benz, but it comes with the 1959 model's appearance and features.

The Bay Area housing market is very unique in comparison to the rest of the country. Home values are through the roof and you actually can't even buy one with $1M in some areas (more on that later). So what can you buy with a million dollars? To find out, I researched every Bay Area city's MLS data on properties sold from JAN 2019 to SEP 2019 that were between $990k - $1.1M. The information gathered was quite interesting.

The 5 cities with the most homes sold in this price range were San Francisco (218), Fremont (174), Oakland (127), San Ramon (103) and Pleasanton (77). The 5 cities with the fewest homes sold in the price range were Lafayette (9), Campbell (9), Orinda (9), East Palo Alto (10), and Moraga (10).

The most expensive cities based on average sold price were Moraga ($1,066,671), Orinda ($1,066,666), and Santa Clara ($1,059,743). Considering average price per SQFT as the leading factor, Redwood City is the most expensive at $1,060 followed by Sunnyvale ($992) and Santa Clara ($935).

The least expensive cities based on average sold price were Los Gatos ($1,026,576), East Palo Alto ($1,029,900), and Livermore ($1,033,747). When using price per SQFT, the least expensive cities were Hayward ($377), Concord ($384) and Livermore ($442).

If you're looking for the largest house for your $1M, you should consider looking in Concord, where homes at this price point average 2,860 SQFT. Although Hayward (2,824) and San Leandro (2,413) are not far behind. On the contrary, Redwood City (1,027), Sunnyvale (1,075) and Santa Clara (1,125) provide the least amount of house for the money.

As before mentioned, there are still cities in the Bay Area where you cannot even buy a house with $1M. Most of which are not a surprise, but still baffling to wrap your head around. These cities are Hillsborough, Burlingame, Foster City, Atherton, Woodside, Stanford, Los Altos, Mountain View, Cupertino, and Saratoga. You may notice, most of these cities are along the peninsula or close to Silicon Valley. It’s also worth noting, cities such as San Carlos, Belmont, Millbrae, and Palo Alto only had one or two homes sold for $1M, so it’s still going to be hard to buy into there too.

Notes about the data: Bay Area cities with 5 or less homes sold for $1M were omitted from the results. Homes sold for below $990k or over $1.1M were also omitted. Sources: MLSListings, Paragon, & SFAR MLS. To view the full list, please click here.

Laurence Lee is a REALTOR® serving the Bay Area. If you or someone you know are looking to buy a home (at any price point) please contact or visit for more information.


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