image-Hyman 11/06

Only in expensive San Mateo County would home prices of $1.3 million be a bargain. But that’s the case. If it makes you feel better, the spread between prices on the coast and the rest of the county is narrowing a bit.

At the end of 2016, the gap was $461,000. At the end of 2017 it was $492,000, then in 2018 it was $667,000 and now at the end of the third quarter it’s $525,000. The impressive growth over the past years is showing signs of slowing down with the county prices declining by 1 percent over both past 12 months and full year 2018. (The prices on the coast are up 2 percent over the period.)

The average price for a home in the county now stands near record high of $1,974,000 ($1,349,000 on the coast) compared to $1996,000 for full year 2018, $1,659,000 for full year 2016, $1,392,000 for 2012, $878,000 for 2009, and $1,210,000 for 2007. Over the past five years, county prices are up by 24 percent and the coast is up by 20 percent.

While prices peaked in 2007, sales volume has never recovered from its highs back in 2004. For the nine months of this year, 2,949 homes sold compared to 3,060 in 2018, 3,050 in 2016 and 3,658 in 2013. Inventory has increased to 678 homes, up 1 percent from last year to where it now represents 2.1 month’s supply of total listings countywide. (On the coast there are 4.0 month’s supply.)

These factors increased average selling time to 28 days (46 days on the coast) compared to 24 days in 2017, 22 days in 2014, 79 days in 2009, and 28 days in 2005.

Where you also see strength is in the number of towns whose average price tops $1 million. All 28 towns in the county that make up our listing area have now exceed that amount, while 25 did in 2018, 16 did in 2014, 7 in 2009 and 17 in 2007. 

Atherton remains the most expensive with an average price of $8.9 million followed by Hillsborough, Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park and Burlingame. In case you’re wondering, East Palo Alto is the least expensive town in the county followed by Colma. 

These factors are contributing to homes selling for more than full price. They are typically selling for 104 percent of asking price in 2019, while it was 112 percent in 2018, 108 percent in 2017, 105 percent in 2016, 109 percent in 2015, 96 percent in 2009, and 100 percent in 2007.

This chart shows homes prices for both areas since 2007 with the coast continuing to be much more affordable. 


Steven Hyman is the broker and owner of Century 21 Sunset Properties. He can be reached at 726-6346 or at

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