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Comparing Home Prices : Don’t Drive North Looking for Bargains

Are houses in Orange County the most expensive in the state? Well, yes and no.

Yes, if you focus on the monthly survey by the California Assn. of Realtors, which says the median resale home price in the county in April was $198,031. That outdistanced every other region of the Golden State, including Los Angeles, where the median was $170,457.

However, Coldwell Banker’s annual home price comparison index tells a different story. The real estate firm’s survey attempts to measure average prices of similar homes in 172 markets in the U.S. and Canada. On the basis of the communities surveyed this year, you’d better not go to Los Angeles County looking for a housing bargain.

The average price of the typical house measured in the survey was $188,467 in Fullerton and $321,000 in Newport Beach at the end of 1987, according to Coldwell Banker. Only those two Orange County communities were surveyed.

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In seven of the eight Los Angeles County communities surveyed, the average price was at least 46% higher than Fullerton. And two--Beverly Hills and San Marino--had a higher average price than Newport Beach.

Why the apparent contradiction?

“There’s a lot of older housing in Los Angeles County that brings the average down,” said Alfred Gobar, a Brea real estate consultant. “Most of the housing in Orange County is fairly new.” He added that workers in Orange County have a low-cost housing alternative in Riverside County that isn’t easily accessible to workers in the South Bay and the San Fernando Valley. Thus, workers in the latter regions have no choice but to compete for nearby homes.

Gobar also said median home prices are usually lower than average prices. With the latter, he said, “you are limited on the low end (in price) but the high end can go to infinity.”

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Coldwell Banker’s subject house had about 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, family room or equivalent, and a two-car garage, and was located in a typical corporate transferee neighborhood.

TEN MOST AND LEAST EXPENSIVE Most Expensive Location / Price

1. Beverly Hills: $636,667

2. Greenwich, Conn.: $599,667

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3. La Jolla, Calif.: $472,333

4. Los Altos, Calif.: $440,000

5. Menlo Park, Calif.: $420,000

6. San Francisco: $417,333

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7. San Marino, Calif.: $388,333

8. Northern Nassau County, Long Island, N.Y.: $364,333

9. Stamford, Conn.: $349,833

10. San Mateo, Calif.: $331,667

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Least Expensive Location / Price

1. Oklahoma City: $66,833

2. Charleston, W. Va.: $66,967

3. Tulsa, Okla.: $74,167

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4. Corpus Christi, Texas: $74,833

5. Eugene, Ore.: $75,833

6. Spokane, Wash.: $76,000

7. Billings, Mont.: $79,267

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8. Boise, Idaho: $81,000

9. Wyandotte County, Kan.: $81,317

10. San Antonio, Texas: $81,500

Source: Coldwell Banker

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COMPARABLE HOME PRICE INFORMATION

1987 Est. Est. 1987 % Change Days on Annual Monthly City Price 86 v. 87 Market Taxes Rent ORANGE COUNTY Fullerton $188,467 2.7% 69 $2,356 $1,333 Newport Beach 321,000 0.0 40 3,273 2,000 LOS ANGELES COUNTY Beverly Hills 636,667 8.4 176 4,299 4,883 Covina 161,450 6.2 55 2,018 967 Encino 320,000 5.7 41 3,840 1,867 Glendale 274,895 28.6 122 3,161 1,800 Long Beach 297,500 25.8 38 3,719 2,067 San Marino 388,333 18.2 45 4,058 2,533 Torrance 281,000 12.2 14 3,516 1,850 Woodland Hills 317,333 14.0 14 3,967 1,883 RIVERSIDE COUNTY Riverside 138,333 -1.4 120 1,549 992 SAN DIEGO COUNTY Chula Vista 153,333 7.7 92 1,917 942 Encinitas 253,000 15.0 27 3,033 2,000 La Jolla 472,333 8.3 61 4,723 2,167 Poway 144,300 2.9 65 1,905 1,033 SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Fremont 226,409 12.0 56 2,829 1,250 Los Altos 440,000 13.9 13 5,500 2,377 Menlo Park 420,000 15.9 21 5,250 1,850 Oakland/Montclair 245,833 5.1 42 3,072 1,400 San Francisco 417,333 7.8 80 4,949 2,800 San Jose 221,000 7.1 15 2,762 1,308 San Mateo 331,667 5.9 8 4,413 1,583 San Rafael 234,833 12.2 102 2,055 1,300 Walnut Creek 232,333 13.1 29 2,904 1,350 OTHER Fresno 111,167 8.9 23 1,390 933 Modesto 153,833 19.0 66 1,860 1,033 Monterey Peninsula 264,633 6.0 134 2,976 1,550 Sacramento 138,983 18.2 60 2,540 766

Source: Coldwell Banker


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