Lately, it seems that a lot of home buyers in California are making offers for…
What are the most affordable housing markets and cities in the San Francisco Bay Area? Where is the cheapest place to buy a house in the Bay Area?
These are common questions among budget-minded home buyers, and rightfully so. We live in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. So it only makes sense to do your homework.
Today, we will examine current home-price trends for 2021 to identify the cheapest places / cities to buy a home in the Bay Area. We’ll use data from the California Association of Realtors, Zillow, and other sources.
Cheapest Places to Buy a Home in the Bay Area
In March of 2021, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) published a housing market update with data for the entire state. It also included current home prices for all 58 of California’s counties.
According to that report, Solano County is the most affordable housing market within the broader San Francisco Bay Area. As of March 2021, the median sale price for existing single-family homes in Solano County was around $510,000. That makes it one of the cheapest places to buy a home in the Bay Area, when measured at the county level.
At the other end of the price spectrum, San Francisco County and San Mateo County were the most expensive housing markets in the Bay Area. San Francisco had a median sale price of $1,786,400 in the March 2021 C.A.R. report. San Mateo County had a median of $1.9 million. These are two of the priciest places to buy a home in the Bay Area, based on current data.
Vallejo and Dixon: Two of the Most Affordable Cities
To drill down even further, we used home-price data provided by the real estate information company Zillow. Focusing on Solano County, we were able to determine which city is the cheapest or most affordable housing market in the Bay Area from a buyer’s perspective.
As it turns out, the city of Vallejo is the cheapest place to buy a house in the Bay Area. (Or at least near the top of the list.) In March of 2021, the median home value in Vallejo, California was around $470,000. This makes it one of the most affordable housing markets in the San Francisco Bay Area – if not the most affordable.
Other cities located within Solano County offer relatively affordable housing markets as well, at least by Bay Area standards. For instance, the median home price in Dixon, California was fairly close to Vallejo. As of spring 2021, the median price point within the Dixon housing market was around $493,000. Fairfield and Vacaville are also relatively affordable by Bay Area standards, with median home prices in the low $500,000 range.
While Solano County is the cheapest place to buy a house in the Bay Area overall, there are some relatively affordable markets in other counties.
Three cities located within Contra Costa County have median home values that are significantly lower than the Bay Area average. Antioch, California had a median house price of around $531,000 in April 2021. Pittsburgh and Oakley are also more affordable than the regional average. Again, this is based on data provided by Zillow.
To recap, home buyers looking for the cheapest place to buy a house in the Bay Area should consider cities like Vallejo, Dixon, Vacaville and Fairfield. All of those cities fall within Solano County. Some affordable housing markets can also be found within Contra Costa County, in cities like Antioch, Oakley and Pittsburgh.
Even in the “Cheap” Markets, Prices Are Climbing
While the cities mentioned above represent some of the most affordable housing markets in the Bay Area, home buyers should still have some sense of urgency. Prices have risen steadily over the past year or so, even in the area’s more affordable housing markets. And additional gains are expected, going forward.
Earlier, we listed Dixon, Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo as four of the cheapest places to buy a home in the San Francisco Bay Area. But those cities have something else in common as well. Rising prices.
According to data collected by Zillow, the median home values in all four of those Solano County housing markets rose by roughly 10% from April 2020 to April 2021.
This is part of a broader trend that is affecting the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Home prices in most cities across the region rose steadily throughout 2020 and into 2021, despite the coronavirus pandemic and economic slowdown.
According to the March 2021 C.A.R. reported mentioned earlier:
Low rates, robust demand and a shortage of homes for sale continued to push up home prices on a year-over-year basis, gaining 20.6 percent from the $579,770 recorded last February. The double-digit increase from last year was the seventh in a row and the second largest since February 2014.
The bottom line: Solano County offers some of the cheapest places to buy a house in the Bay Area, as of 2021. But even those relatively affordable housing markets are getting pricier. And based on the current supply shortage affecting the Bay Area, it seems likely that home prices will keep rising through 2021 and into 2022. So again, a sense of urgency is probably warranted among home buyers considering a purchase.