5 Most Expensive Places to Buy in the San Francisco Bay Area

5 Most expensive places to buy in San Francisco Bay Area

Far from up-and-coming Bay Area places to live - the zip codes on this list are established. They have what other places don’t - not just high prices. 

To be one of the most expensive San Francisco Bay Area zip codes, the neighborhood has to meet and exceed typical standards. In these affluent spots, the shops and restaurants don’t always become the priority. Privacy is highly valued by many residents in these expensive zip codes, plus those who want to move in one day. 

Stinson Beach

A great shot the Stinson Beach, the second place on our list - via Tom Hilton

Along with privacy and a certain amount of exclusivity, the homeowners in these zip codes need a few other features:

  • Space: The most expensive homes usually sit on large plots of land, adding privacy and useable space for the owners.
  • Style: In the neighborhoods on this list, expect the best architecture that the Bay Area has to offer, inside and out.
  • Scenery: High-priced zip codes generally have some of the most picturesque views around, which heavily influences their price tags.
  • Security: The safety of a Bay Area zip code is always an important factor that affluent homeowners will evaluate.
  • Serenity: When given the choice, buyers looking for a luxury home rightfully expect a certain level of peace and quiet.

Here’s how the median sales prices for 2023 are calculated: The residential sales transactions between January 1st, 2023, and October 20th, 2023 were evaluated (package deals were excluded) and only zip codes with a minimum of three transactions were included.

Atherton, CA (San Mateo County ZIP code 94027)

When realtors think about high-priced real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area, Atherton comes to mind first. The incorporated town sits on the west side of the San Francisco Bay and is happily the home of about 7,000 residents.  

The old artherton station

The old Atherton Station via Pi.1415926535

This area is quite unique, and not just for the exclusivity and residences built to be as luxurious as possible. Atherton only allows one single-family home on each acre of land and is much greener than the surrounding cities - by far. The town even has its own volunteer Tree Committee.   

The locals get a high level of privacy but can quickly tap into the attractions and amenities of Redwood City or Menlo Park. 

Atherton’s median sales price was around $8.3 million during 2023, holding on to its top spot for another year. Highly sought-after spots like this usually defy general market trends, so this isn’t surprising to any local realtors. In 2022 and 2023, Atherton was also the most expensive zip code in the US.

Atherton ZIP code 94027 is not a high-turnover market, but in early 2024, we had over a dozen listings and a median listing price of $10,950,000.

Stinson Beach, CA (Marin County ZIP code 94970) 

It would be hard to design a more picturesque stretch of coastline than Stinson Beach. This unincorporated town runs from Rocky Point in the south, up to the community of Bolinas in the northwest.

Stinson Beach is a few miles of sandy coast, backed by some of the most exclusive residences in the San Francisco Bay Area. A lot of the homes sit on a sandy strip of Stinson Beach, which tapers and stops before Bolinas Beach.

This is surely an area where location influences home prices. Anyone living in Stinson Beach has dreamy scenery all around them, with a shallow lagoon to the north and the Pacific to the south. With one entrance and exit to the beachside community, there’s an exclusive and private feeling that’s unmatched by any nearby town. 

There are a few local eateries and cafes, but you won’t find any large shopping centers or Walmarts here. Relaxing with a sea breeze in the sun takes priority over boutique shopping, plus, you’ll never be caught in traffic here. 

Stinson Beach’s median sales price was around $4.5 million in 2023, which seems extremely low compared to Atherton, but still dwarfs the more affordable Bay Area cities. We usually see a few Stinson Beach listings, but not many.  

A realtor’s job is to find you the best home, not necessarily the most expensive. Would you like to know how we guarantee this for our clients?

Los Altos, CA (Santa Clara County ZIP codes 94024 and 94022)

These two in-demand Los Altos ZIP codes (94024 and 94022) made the third spot on our list. The ~31,000 residents living here don’t miss out on any urban comforts - but they get a very high-quality lifestyle, with more privacy. 

Part of the city’s prestigious reputation comes from being the birthplace of Apple. The Silicon Valley behemoth was founded in a Los Altos garage.

Mountain View is Los Altos’ northern neighbor, with even more amenities and lower property prices.

Aerial view of Los Gatos

A lovely view of Los Altos - via Ben Freedman

Natural beauty is not in short supply in Los Altos. As a resident, you’d have nearly endless mountains and hillsides to explore - but it’s not all for exercise. Wineries line the hillside, making for a really special day out. Portola Vineyards may be the closest, but the Los Altos Tasting Room will be just as entertaining for your tastebuds.

Large lots, gorgeous sightlines, and multi-million dollar price tags are characteristics of Los Altos homes.

In 2023, the Los Altos ZIP codes 94024 and 94022 had median sales prices of $4 million and $3.99 million respectively.  

Portola Valley, CA (San Mateo County Zip Code 94028)

Portola Valley, CA is almost tied for third place with Los Altos but misses the mark by a few hundred thousand dollars. It’s directly to the west of Los Altos, on the side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Residents have access to a small amount of shopping and a very large amount of natural beauty.

Wineries and farms are one of the town’s features. You should visit Neely Winery, even if you aren’t planning on making an offer on a Portola Valley home. 

Classrooms in Portola Valley CA

If this is a classroom in Portola Valley, imagine what the homes look like - via Peter Alfred Hess

Most of the luxurious homes are on the north side of Portola Road, while the southern parts of Portola Valley are mostly trail spaces and nature preserves. Not many people live here, which is part of the charm. That being said, becoming one of the locals won’t be cheap.

With a median sales price of around $3.8 million in 2023, Portola Valley takes the fourth rank on our list. There aren’t a large number of choices, but the options are lavish and hardly disappointing for home buyers. 

Saratoga, CA (Santa Clara County Zip Code 95070)

Saratoga, CA is a lovely mix of residential and green space 14 miles west of San Jose. The city may be fifth on the list, but the homes and neighborhoods have similar opulence to the third and fourth-ranked places (Los Altos and Portola Valley).

You’ll find this city up against the Santa Cruz Mountains but within a short drive of lots of other Bay Area cities (and their attractions). Still, Saratoga is well-served by its own personal selection of shops, schools, and a country club in the hills

The hakone gardens estate

The Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, CA - via Brad Greenlee

The hills are also where the highest-priced residences are, plus the occasional undeveloped plot of land. Still, bare plots and homes closer to San Jose aren’t affordable by any means. 

The city had a median sales price of around $3.7 million in 2023, meaning that living in Saratoga, CA is priced for higher-income families.

Did Any ZIP Code on the List Surprise You?

In 2022, the five most expensive places in the San Francisco Bay Area were more or less ranked the same. 

Here are the median sales prices of the next five that weren’t included in this article:

  1. Palo Alto (Santa Clara County ZIP code 94301): Median sales price of $3.5 million.

  2. Ross (Marin County  ZIP code 94957): Median sales price of $3.4 million.

  3. Belvedere Tiburon (Marin County ZIP code 94920): Median sales price of $3.2 million.

  4. Hillsborough (San Mateo County ZIP code 94010): Median sales price of $3.2 million.

  5. Los Gatos (Santa Clara County ZIP code 95030): Median sales price of $3.13 million.

If you want to track prices for Bay Area zip codes, we’ve got a helpful Property Tracker to do just that. It’s like having a personal realtor telling you about the market and recent listings!

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If you have more questions about what to expect from the markets around the Bay Area, don’t be afraid to reach out to us today. Our experts are experienced in all property types and the entire San Francisco Bay Area, and we can help you to find what you need to know today.

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