Don’t Despair, Bay Area Homebuyers! See These Hidden Pockets of Affordability
For first-time home buyers and buyers who want to trade in starter homes for something bigger, entering the red hot Bay Area real estate market can feel like facing down a 250-lb linebacker at the Super Bowl – who wants your wallet, your savings, your debit card and PIN numbers.
But buying a home doesn’t have to be scary or suck you dry if you pay attention to the “hidden” pockets of affordable housing in the Bay Area, especially in Contra Costa County.
(By affordable housing, we mean relative affordability, considering that the median home price in many Bay Area cities tops $1 million!)
Check this out: The median price for a single-family home in August was as low as $390,000 in San Pablo and $561,000 in Brentwood. Brentwood’s median increased 16 percent year-over-year, but it’s still a bargain by Bay Area standards, as the Mercury News recently reported.
In many areas, like Pleasant Hill, Lafayette and Alamo, high housing prices are driven by access to their acclaimed schools.
But what many buyers don’t know, according to Abio Properties agent Mariah Bradford, is they can live in less expensive neighboring areas and still access these schools.
You Don’t Have to Sacrifice Good Schools
“Here’s a perfect example,” Mariah says. “People are paying $800,000, $900,000 and $1 million for houses in Pleasant Hill. But if you buy a house in nearby Pacheco, you still get Pleasant Hill schools and save $200,000 or $300,000 on the house you buy.”
School boundary lines zigzag through various cities and neighborhoods – and you need a sharp real estate agent to help you navigate district maps.
In Martinez alone, some students attend Pleasant Hill schools, some go to Concord schools, and others attend class in Martinez.
“I have buyers right now who want to send their kids to Valhalla Elementary in Pleasant Hill but don’t want to spend more than $900,000. So I’m pointing them to houses in Martinez,” Mariah said. The median sales price for a single-family home in Martinez in August was $623,150, according to the Bay East Association of Realtors.
Whether or not you have school-age children, pay attention to those district boundaries. Local school popularity will affect your resale value later.
More Affordable Pockets (with median prices from August):
- Pittsburg ($430,000)
- Antioch ($434,000)
- Brentwood ($561,000)
- Concord ($600,000) Check out this four-bed, three-bath Abio listing on Panoramic Drive for $569,000.
- Clyde (adjacent to Concord)
- Martinez ($623,150)
- Clayton ($780,000) Spacious properties with open space and Mt. Diablo State Park
- Castro Valley ($782,800)
- Saranap (an unincorporated area adjacent to Walnut Creek)
In Saranap, located between Lafayette and Walnut Creek, homes sometimes cost $500,000 less than equivalent properties in those neighboring cities, and still have access to their schools. The current median listing price in Saranap is $804,950, according to Redfin. The median listing price in Lafayette is $1,390,000.“You really save in Saranap,” says Mariah, who recently purchased a family home in the neighborhood.
If these areas sound too far away, too bland or too suburban, remember the urban vibrancy of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco are within reach! BART stops in North Concord, Martinez and Pleasant Hill.
And each East Bay city has its own colorful flavor of shopping, dining and community events. Explore the Martinez Waterfront Park, downtown Concord’s farmer’s market, and downtown Pleasant Hill.
“I think the greatest affordable opportunity will be in Concord,” says Abio co-founder Linnette Edwards. “It has a bustling downtown, more restaurants are coming into the area, it’s not that far out there, and it has a BART line. It checks a lot of the boxes that people are looking for.”
Let us give you a tour of these “hidden” affordable neighborhoods! Contact our Abio Properties agents at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or firstname.lastname@example.org.