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The most expensive neighborhoods in California—and the country

Ultra-affluent Bay Area burgs come out on top

Behold Silicon Valley’s pricey Atherton.
Behold Silicon Valley’s pricey Atherton.
Photo by LPS1/Shutterstock

Every year, Forbes magazine compiles real estate data to rank the most expensive ZIP codes for homebuyers in the United States, with California almost always taking the lion’s share of the top spots.

Here’s a look at the most expensive Northern California locales as the financial publication ranks them—and perhaps, more importantly, how they compare to figures in 2016.

  • Atherton, 94027 (No. 1, $9.68 million)

Atherton, a frequent winner, only managed to slide into the number three spot last year, but upped its game by more than $2.4 million on the median asking price in 2017 to spring back to the top. Note that this single ZIP code covers the entire, ultra-affluent community.

Photo by LPS1
  • Los Altos Hills, 94022 (No. 3, $7.75 million)

Not to be confused with nearby Los Altos, this tonier locale leaped from the number eight spot last year, when the average home listed for just over $6 million.

Photo by Finlay McWalter
  • Palo Alto, 94301 (No. 4, $7.06 million)

And this slice of Palo Alto, right next to Menlo Park and northeast of Stanford, came in only 48th place in last year’s Forbes pile-up. Why the upward mobility? Well, the simplest explanation is that Palo Alto homes cost more this year.

But also bear in mind the volatility of small sample sizes. Not many homes go up for sale in this neighborhood; Redfin has only 12 active listings as of today, and only 152 sales all year.

That’s not a tiny pool, but compared to, say, the Mission’s (94110 ZIP) 618 sold homes in the same period or the 434 sold homes on the site in the Castro (94114), there’s more potential for smaller changes to make a bigger difference.

Photo via town of Ross
  • Ross, 94957 (No. 5, $6.93 million)

Speaking of small samples, Ross had roughly 2,400 citizens at the last full census in 2010, which might explain how it didn’t make the list last year but now sees itself in the top five.

And yes, this means that four of Forbes’ five most expensive places to buy homes in the entire U.S. are right here in the Bay Area. Manalapan, Florida took the number two spot.

Earlier this year, real estate site Property Shark countered with a list of its own, claiming that Forbes does it wrong by assessing asking prices in each ZIP code instead of actual sales prices.

By that rubric, Forbes’ previous number one ZIP code in Manalapan, Florida, came in only 4,252th place. So there is some slight wiggle room to dispute Forbes figures for 2017.

Forbes full list of the most expensive ZIP codes in America can be found here.