• San Francisco and San Mateo counties are the most unaffordable regions in the state.
  • Buyers in San Francisco and San Mateo counties must earn a minimum annual income of roughly $250,000 in order to purchase a median priced home.
  • Home values in Contra Costa, Sonoma and Solano counties have yet to exceed pre-recession figures.

Within five Bay Area counties median home prices have fully recovered and exceed pre-recession (2006) figures noticeably, according to the California State Board of Equalization (BOE)

San Francisco and San Mateo counties lead the way with median home values that exceed 2006 prices by 42 percent each. According to the board’s finding, which looked at year-end 2015 figures, the median home price in San Francisco stood at $1.254 million, while San Mateo had a median value of $1.227 million.

Appreciating home values and its affect on affordability are nothing new in these two counties.

Recent stats from the California Association of Realtors point to these counties as the two most unaffordable regions in California.

Home buyers in San Francisco County need to earn a minimum annual income of $251,980 to qualify for the purchase of a median priced home, as of February. Their monthly payment, including taxes and insurance on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan, would be $6,300. This assumes a 20 percent down payment and an effective composite interest rate of 4.16 percent.

Despite this daunting income requirement, pending home sales in the county were up by 7 percent in February on a year-over-year basis. Additionally, homes are still selling for higher than their original list price.

In San Mateo County potential buyers must earn $252,230 to qualify for a median home purchase and would make a $6,310 monthly payment.

Other fully recovered markets

Median home prices in Santa Clara, Marin and Alameda counties are said to also exceed 2006 figures, by 22 percent, 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Entering 2016, the median home price in Marin County stood at more than $1.1 million, while the median price for Santa Clara was just under $950,000. Alameda County’s median value too at nearly $750,000.

“It’s great that housing prices have recovered and then some,” said Fiona Ma, BOE chairwoman, in a recent release. “However, it also highlights the critical need to assure affordable housing options are available for working families in the Bay Area.”

Look east for affordability

Contra Costa, Sonoma and Solano counties represent the most affordable regions for Bay Area buyers looking to purchase homes priced below $550,000. According to the BOE, none of these counties have yet fully-recovered since 2006. Contra Costa and Sonoma counties’ median prices are hovering around $544,000, while Solano prices are around $350,000.

Home prices in San Francisco County and the Silicon Valley are influencing some employment sectors to build housing for their employees.

The Cupertino Union School District has proposed building more than 200 affordable housing units at a Santa Clara school site that has been closed for more than 30 years. The units would be offered to teachers at below market rate.

This spring, the city of San Francisco restarts its Teacher Next Door program, which assists teachers employed with the San Francisco Unified School District with the purchase of their first home.

Email Erik Pisor

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