Seven of the 10 most expensive housing markets in the nation are in California, according to a home-price comparison research conducted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp.

The annual Home Price Comparison Index is intended to provide an “apples-to-apples” comparison of similar homes sold in typical middle-management transferee neighborhoods in 348 markets across the country and in Puerto Rico and Canada.

The study highlights some of the most expensive and most affordable markets in areas with high relocation rates. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 million Americans moved between 2002 and 2003.

“Americans are a mobile people, especially during an expanding economy,” said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. “The Coldwell Banker (index) serves as a useful tool for those involved in transfers and moves or the curious who want to see what their home would cost in other markets. Home prices vary greatly from market to market, and the (index) gives some clarity to what homes cost in different parts of the country.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • The top 10 most expensive markets in the country are: 1) La Jolla, Calif., 2) Beverly Hills, Calif., 3) Santa Barbara, Calif., 4) Palo Alto, Calif., 5) Greenwich, Conn., 6) Newport Beach, Calif., 7) San Mateo, Calif., 8) San Francisco, Calif., 9) Wellesley, Mass., and 10) Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

  • The top 10 most affordable markets in the country are: 1) Minot, N.D., 2) Great Falls, Mont., 3) Arlington, Texas, 4) Billings, Mont., 5) Killeen, Texas, 6) Tulsa, Okla., 7) Topeka/Shawnee County, Kan., 8) Parkersburg, W.V., 9) Cadillac, Mich., and 10) Knoxville, Tenn.

  • The price difference between La Jolla and Minot is $1,578,033 for a similar 2,200-square-foot home.

  • The cumulative average sales price of the 322 U.S. markets surveyed in the Coldwell Banker HPCI is $354,372; up 11.4 percent from $318,172 in 2003.

  • More than 60 percent of the markets surveyed have an average home price of less than $300,000.

  • American markets that come closest to the $354,372 HPCI national average sales price are Minneapolis, Minn., and Leesburg/Loudoun County, Va.

  • Alabama narrowly beats Nebraska as having the least price variance within one state. Alabama has a $7,891 difference between Huntsville ($188,466), the most expensive area, and Mobile ($180,575), the most affordable.

  • California has the greatest variance within the same state at $1,359,733 between La Jolla, at $1,708,333, and Riverside/Ontario, at $348,600.

  • Among the major cities included in the HPCI, the average home price for San Francisco was $1,125,500, while Boston averages $1,053,594 and Chicago averages $763,333.

The criteria used for the index is: single-family dwelling, 2,200 square feet (approximately), four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, family room (or equivalent) and two-car garage in neighborhoods/zip codes within a market that is typical for corporate middle-management transferees.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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