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Oakland home values surge 261 percent in 20 years

That’s a lot

Mid-rise buildings reflected on the surface of a lake in the foreground. Via Shutterstock

If the average Bay Area resident placed bets on which city saw the most alarming and dramatic surge in home values in the past two decades—well, odds are nobody wants to subject themselves to that kind of stress.

Nevertheless, the answer is Oakland, by a margin of over 260 percent since the year 2000. At least that’s according to an assessment by the home-improvement site Porch.com, which, as the decade ends, took the opportunity to look back at U.S. housing markets for the entire century thus far.

Per Porch’s calculations, Oakland saw the second-greatest increase in home values nationwide during that period, up 261 percent.

Sunnyvale landed in the fifth place spot with 241 percent, and Fremont in sixth at 238 percent. Santa Clara hit number ten at 228 percent.

Perhaps surprisingly, San Francisco doesn’t pop up on the list until the number 11 spot, with a 225 percent increase. The only other Bay Area city to land in the top 24 slots on the list was Berkeley with 199 percent.

Note that these are calculations of home values rather than home prices—hence why San Jose, where median sale prices soared in recent years, didn’t make the top of the list at all, and why SF trailed so many other cities regionally.

Porch cites real estate site Zillow as the source of its data. Comparing the figures to those in the U.S. Census, an Oakland home of average value in 2018 was estimated at $730,200, compared to $235,500.

Adjusting for inflation, that’s an increase of a little less than 108 percent—still remarkable (or anxiety-inducing, depending on your point of view), but nowhere near the same ballpark.

This is because Zillow estimates home values based on its own “proprietary formula,” which the site claims simulates an estimate closer to potential market value than a census compilation does.

As the finance site the Balance pointed out in 2018, “Zillow never claims to be 100 percent accurate all the time, or even 80 percent accurate most of the time in all areas,” but some users still defer to it simply on account of its comprehensiveness.

Porch spokesperson Maya Siman told Curbed SF that the site relied on Zillow because “Zillow offers a robust amount of data.”

For the curious, here’s how the Bay Area cities ranked by Porch stack up using just census figures over the past 18 years:

  • Sunnyvale: Plus 116.6 percent
  • Santa Clara: 112.9 percent
  • San Francisco: 111.3 percent
  • Oakland: 107.9 percent
  • Fremont: 104.2 percent
  • Berkeley: 100.6 percent