Alexander Clark Real Estate

‘The Front Steps’: What It Really Costs To Buy a Home In the Richmond

The cost of housing is not the whole story when it comes to real estate, but for obvious reasons it’s the factor that tends to preoccupy people the most, especially if they’re looking to buy themselves.

The price of a home in San Francisco makes new headlines every week, but statistics can be misleading: How much does it really cost to buy in a neighborhood like the Richmond right now?

There are some easily available public figures from sources like the California Association of Realtors: For August (still the most recent month for which sales data is available), the median price of a single-family home in San Francisco was $1.85 million, compared to $1.26-plus million in the larger Bay Area.

That’s a good benchmark to keep in mind, but as a data point it’s very limited: It’s only a single month, it covers houses but not condos, and of course for our purposes, it’s not about the Richmond specifically.

Looking at MLS data since January 1, across the entire Richmond (including Lake Street), we’ve had 255 home sales, the median price being $1.78 million for the year so far. (We’ll pause so you can absorb that number, in case you weren’t ready.)

(Photo by Dicklyon)

But an average is an abstract reference–all it really means is that half of Richmond homes sell for more than that and the other half sell for less. For the year, the lowest price for a Richmond home so far is $625K, while the most was $8.25 million.

Note that there are always at least some Below Market Rate homes mixed into these stats, but in this case the $625K low-end wasn’t one of them, so that’s a market rate floor for the neighborhood thus far.

Of course, one could argue that past data isn’t necessarily all that helpful if you’re shopping for a home now–prices are seasonal, and nobody has the option of going back and buying in January now.

So currently, out of 49 listed homes, the price range runs from $649K up to $9.5 million, with a median of just about $1.79 million in the middle. You’ll notice that’s a perhaps surprisingly consistent figure–very close to what people have been paying all year, and only slightly less than the citywide median.

Do keep in mind that listed prices and selling prices are not the same thing, and that in the Western Neighborhoods particularly you’re more likely to end up having to pay more than the asking price these days–although anything is possible.

For comparison, across all of California the average buyer pays around $827K for a home or $600K if it’s a condo (that’s CAR data again), whereas the St. Louis Fed has it that nationwide in Q2, the average buyer paid just under $375K.

So yes, even the luckiest Richmond buyer this year plunked down nearly double what the average American spent on a new home.

But money isn’t everything: You can buy a house anywhere, but you can only live in the Richmond in the Richmond.

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