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SF number one in U.S. for million dollar-plus house flips

Since 2001, more than 300 locals appreciated their homes past the seven-figure mark

Painted Victorian houses in San Francisco, with the high-rise skyline behind them in the distance. Photo by Victor Maschek/Shutterstock

San Francisco became the town it is today because people came looking for gold, but these days prospectors are more likely to find housing as a more reliable way to enrich oneself in modern day SF.

With that in mind, real estate site Property Shark figured out how many people nationwide have achieved millionaire status just by selling their homes in a sufficiently hot market since 2001.

And surprise, surprise, the site’s review of sales records in the present millennium revealed that San Francisco yielded the highest number of homemade millionaires—beating out New York City and a great many other towns with much larger populations and housing stocks.

Property Shark writer Rob Demeter explains:

Those who bought a home in the Golden Gate City prior to the dot-com bubble bursting, and sold it after the market stabilized (and prices started rising again), got great deals on their properties.

After 2001, 381 people became millionaires just by selling their homes in San Francisco—that’s a high number, considering San Francisco’s population is half that of Manhattan. Home prices in SF remained fairly steady during the 2008 financial crisis, and the market wasn’t affected as badly as other major cities in the country.

No surprises there.

Do note that San Francisco is in first place because Property Shark ranks communities on a county level, meaning each borough of New York City is listed separately. As such, Manhattan comes in second place with 335 and Brooklyn comes in third with 281, rather than the larger city itself topping the rankings.

Also note that Property Shark’s central premise of allegedly “becoming a millionaire” here doesn’t really work.

“The number of millionaires for each city was calculated by looking at homes that were purchased before 2001 for less than $1 million and resold by the same person after 2001 for $1 million or more,” explains Demeter.

But that doesn’t tell us much about the relative wealth of the seller. Many people buying SF property and then selling for seven figures were already millionaires (or more) to begin with. While others may have bought homes decades ago for sums that seem smaller than they actually are due to inflation.

What Property Shark has tabulated here is the number of sold SF homes that appreciated beyond the seven-figure mark since the end of the first tech boom. Which is an intriguing stat in and of itself.

For the curious, here’s the rest of the regional highlights:

  • San Jose: 119
  • Redwood City: 48
  • Oakland: 45
  • Fremont: 41
  • Sunnyvale: 40
  • San Mateo: 37