Five Most Expensive Real Estate Markets, by Price-per-Square-Foot

While home prices continue to fall in much of the nation, some hot spots continue to enjoy high prices and high demand. Sure, everyone knows that New York City and San Francisco are terribly pricey, but once you include their greater metropolitan areas, how do they really compare to markets across the country? Price per square foot, that pan-national barometer of housing cost, reveals where the most expensive metropolitan areas of the country really are.

Five Most Expensive Real Estate Markets in US

Four Out of Five of the Most Expensive Real Estate Markets in the country are in California.

Here, in reverse order, are the top five most expensive real estate markets, when viewed by price/sq. ft, as of April, 2011. Keep in mind, the median price/sq. ft. for the entire country stands at about $105*.

5. Los Angeles Metro Area. LA’s spot on the list comes as no surprise, seeing as how this home to celebrities, stars and millionaires also enjoys stellar weather year-round. With a median price/sq. ft. of $257, the Los Angeles market is still playing strong, although it’s seen a drop from its pricey heights of $397/sq. ft. in July of 2007.

4. San Francisco Metro Area. Some may be surprised that this city by the bay doesn’t top the list, with home prices within the barely 47 square mile city routinely topping $1 million. Yet with an extended metropolitan area that includes impoverished communities as well as the uber-affluent town of Atherton, San Francisco’s affordability tops out at just $283/sq. ft.

3. Santa Cruz Metro Area. Home to a university, various industries, and quite likely the most Southern California-like of Northern California beaches, Santa Cruz sports a strong vacation home market, as well as a vibrant business and cultural climate. How much will it cost you to buy a piece of Santa Cruz’s eclectic beach town charm? About $310 per square foot.

2. San Jose Metro Area. Home to entrepreneurs, computing giants, and the kings of the internet, San Jose boasts relatively high employment, good salaries, quality school districts, and easy access to the joys of California’s coasts, mountains and deserts. Technophiles, academia and artists alike call San Jose home, to the tune of $328 per square foot.

1. The only location in the top five not located in California, Honolulu tops the national median price per square foot at a stunning $411. At these prices, that charming beach-like 1,000 square foot bungalow will cost you an amazing $411,000—while a home meeting the U.S. median size of 2,392 sq. feet will set you back $983,112. Of course, while the rest of country dreams of flying to Hawaii for a vacation, you’ll be living there. So is the high price per square foot worth it? We bet it is.

* All figures from market research, as published June 01, 2011.

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