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Your Top 13 Questions About California Real Estate, Answered
Real Estate

Your Top 13 Questions About California Real Estate, Answered

California’s real estate can be an overwhelming world, but with the basics covered, you’ll be a more confident buyer in a seller's market.

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5 min read

June 27, 2021

So you want to know about California's housing market? Well, we can do our very best to answer your questions about real estate laws and hiring agents, whether you’re looking into Southern California’s or the Bay Area's housing market. California’s real estate can be a confusing and often overwhelming world, but with the basics covered, you’ll be a more confident buyer in a seller’s market.

Anyone walking through a house or touring it virtually will be looking for ways to pass or negotiate down on the price.

1. Which California city has the lowest median age?

If you’re a young professional looking to relocate, you’ll appreciate having people of similar ages in your area. Naturally, college towns are at the top of the list when it comes to low median ages—they’re also among the most affordable places to live in California. However, several other major cities like Los Angeles and San Franciso draw in young people through work opportunities, ever-evolving industries, and more unique features.

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2. Which California city has the highest median age?

On the other end of the spectrum, California’s real estate hotspots for retirees have the highest median ages for residents. From affordable beach towns to charming mountain towns, the highest median ages are usually in towns where life is enjoyed in the slow lane, with enough amenities around to not need to leave too often. Among these cities included are Thousand Oaks and Torrance. 

Getting a pre-sale home inspected is never a bad idea, especially to get a client the best price for their home.

3. Which California city has the highest average home sale?

When browsing Zillow, you’ll find a drastic difference in the listed number of houses for sale in California. As displayed on the map, the highest concentration of listings are on the southern end of the map, while the lowest is in Central California. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose are among the most valuable cities in the country.

4. Which California city is the most expensive to live in as measured by price per square foot?

The Bay Area is in the lead when it comes to the most expensive cities in California. San Francisco, Atherton, and Palo Alto are not only among the most expensive places in California, but in the nation as a whole.

The selling price of a house fluctuates depending on multiple factors. The most common one is the neighborhood.

5. Which California city is the least expensive to live in as measured by price per square foot?

What’s affordable by California standards is definitely not affordable in most other states in the U.S. And while the cheapest places to live in the Golden State aren’t exactly the most conventionally California-esque, they still feature pretty awesome perks, close proximity to major cities, and are on a fast track to success.

Bakersfield, Fresno, Eureka, and more underrated towns are among the cheapest places to live in California and pretty good options for those willing to compromise on locale and trade for small-town living. But, you’ll also find inexpensive accommodations in cities like Richmond, Glendale, and Fremont. 

6. Where is the cheapest real estate in California?

If we’re talking about the most affordable places to live in California in general, then smaller towns like Yucca Valley, Clearlake, Ridgecrest, and more take the reign with average listings not going over $300,000.

Like everything else, home prices vary depending on supply and demand. And again, the market matters.

7. How much do houses in California cost?

This question is so generalized that giving it a concrete answer would simply be misleading. If we’re talking median prices across the board, then the average house in California is about half a million dollars. However, many listings go way above or even below that threshold. 

For example, that average rises dramatically in San Francisco, where the median home price is above a million dollars. Similarly, it goes down to a fraction of it in places like Clearlake, where you’ll get a bigger home for under a quarter million.

The vast majority of adults who left California in the 2010s cited jobs, housing, or family as the primary reason.

8. Are people moving out of California?

California continues to be the most populated state in the nation, but it has seen an exodus the last couple of years. So, the answer is yes and no. The people moving to California are different from those moving out in a variety of ways.

Those leaving are mostly large corporations moving to avoid high taxes and lower-middle-class Californians seeking affordable living options. On the other hand, those who are moving in are educated individuals of working age looking to start their careers in the state. The one positive outcome of the exodus is that motivated younger people are moving in. This also explains the constant rise in California’s real estate prices over the years.

9. Is it cheaper to rent or buy in L.A.?

The answer to this question largely depends on your long-term plans. Renting a house is more affordable than buying, for around 60 percent of the cities in the nation, including Los Angeles. However, Zillow’s rent versus buy calculator shows that buying does become cheaper than renting in Los Angeles in about two years and three months.

Low mortgage rates, rising home prices, and a shortage of properties for sale have made for a complicated market.

10. Is it a good time to buy a house in California?

Every year, the prices and sales of homes continue to go up in California, with the exception of lower prices in certain regions during the pandemic. Despite COVID-19, the severe housing shortage, and shrinking economy, the housing market prices continue at a hot pace in California.

So, will the listing prices go down in the near future if you wait? Most likely not—the signs generally point to an upward trend in the short term.

11. Should I prepare my house before selling it?

Absolutely. First impressions matter greatly in California’s real estate. Anyone touring a house in person or virtually will be looking for ways to negotiate down the price. You must make sure that the plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical systems all work properly before making the house available for viewing. 

Each room should look clean and decluttered with no overt damage in sight. Otherwise, even the most expensive house in Los Angeles could look unappealing to prospective buyers.

Once the house is on the market, it may take anywhere from four to six weeks to sell, sometimes even one.

12. How long will it take to sell my home?

The average time a house spends on the market can be anywhere between 30 to 60 days. However, this varies greatly depending on a lot of factors. The time it takes to sell a beach house in SoCal will differ from the amount of time it might take to sell a cabin in Tahoe. And while the number of days your house spends on the market varies from city to city, you’ll find variation from neighborhood to neighborhood as well.

13. What should my first step be when buying a house?

This goes without saying—your first step when it comes to exploring California real estate should be getting approved for a mortgage. The majority of people are not wealthy enough to purchase a house, especially when dealing with the Golden State’s cost of living. Thus, a mortgage is a necessary first step. Serving as a loan that comes with a fixed interest rate and gets paid off over 15 or 30 years, a mortgage is your key to getting a deal on a house you actually want to live in.

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