California's Hot 5: The Fastest-Moving Housing Markets

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Be prepared for a race to the finish if you're looking to buy in California these days.

As they did in the Gold Rush of 1849, Americans are racing westward in 2015. Trulia's Housing Economist Ralph McLaughlin noted that five of the 10 fastest-moving real estate markets this year are located in the Golden State, while sales have slowed in such eastern states as New York, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

It looks like 2015 is seeing its next Gold Rush, but this time, it's with homes -- and they're selling incredibly fast. In fact, less than 30% of homes for sale in three San Francisco Bay Area metros remained on the market after two months.

Why are people racing to buy in California? Well, each one of the cities on this list has its own charm. Let's see what you can buy in the Golden State's hottest markets.

1. San Francisco

You almost have to ask what the City by the Bay doesn't have. Great food, great sights like the Golden Gate Bridge and Park, and lots of business opportunities. And with the average home selling for more than $1 million, the real estate market in San Francisco is just as fast-paced as its tech innovations.

So what can you get for $549,000 (roughly the midpoint of the median)? You could vie for this one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in the Castro or this teeny, tiny 678-square-foot home in Mission Terrace. Either way, come prepared to battle it out with dozens of other buyers.

2. San Jose

Tech companies and their employees clearly know the way to San Jose, nicknamed the "Capital of Silicon Valley." The third-largest city in California, San Jose reached the 1 million population milestone last year and shows no signs of slowing.

This is home to the headquarters of a number of huge tech companies (Cisco Systems, Adobe Systems, PayPal, eBay, and so many more) and buyers are scooping up newly built condos, roomy Victorian single-family homes, and everything in between. If you can pony up the median asking price of $800,000, you can look forward to harvesting lemons from the mature fruit trees and hosting some epic barbecues in the backyard of this 1960s ranch-style home.

3. Oakland

Across the bay from San Francisco lies Oakland, a city with a rough reputation -- Anna Bloom of the New York Times described growing up there as "a mix of growth, grit, and crime."

But things are changing as newcomers and businesses are beginning to take advantage of Oakland's proximity to San Francisco, according to Fortune magazine. With homes half the price of those across the bay, more buyers could afford this tidily renovated Montclair cottage (listed at $599,000).

4. San Diego

Almost any native of this city will give you the following advice: "Get a California burrito and carne asada fries. You'll thank me later." San Diego can boast the Gaslamp Quarter, beautiful Coronado Island, Comic-Con International -- and the fact that it was home to Will Ferrell's "Anchorman" movies.

Earlier this year, San Diego was ranked the second-most-expensive city to buy a house in, making it a seller's market. (And buyers are digging it.) Live the dream in this cozy 560-square-foot Mission Beach cottage. It'll cost you, though -- it's listed at $559,000, well within the average for this sunny city.

5. Orange County

Widely known as "The OC" (even off TV), Los Angeles' suburban neighbor is experiencing a big economic upswing. Last month, The Orange County Register's Jonathan Lansner reported that local businesses are booming and the amount of money spent on cars is at a seven-year high.

Orange County is home to such affluent beach communities as Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, as well as Disneyland over in Anaheim. Chapman University and the University of California at Irvine also call The OC home. All those California vibes don't come cheap -- if you want to soak up the coastal views in a cliffside home like this one, be prepared to fork over a cool $18 million.

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