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California’s oh-so affordable housing

Perspective: Buyers stumble over unrealistic expectations, not prices

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It's no secret that California is home to some of the most expensive residences in the United States. But the notion that the state as a whole has an "affordable housing crisis" in terms of home ownership is more myth than reality. Not everyone can afford to live in California, and not everyone who lives in California can afford the best house in the most desirable neighborhood. Those realities don't mean the housing itself is "unaffordable." California has 36 million residents and counting. The state is so large and has so many housing markets that to describe it as if it were a homogenous whole is almost ludicrous. Yes, the median home price in Burlingame, Los Altos, Saratoga and some other Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area cities topped $1 million in August 2004. But the median home price in farm-rich Kern County in August 2004 was $184,000. Fresno County's median was $200,500, and San Bernardino County's median was $260,000. (The "median" means of the houses sold in those...