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On a Budget: East Bay Real Estate Is Often Under One Million Dollars

The East Bay, with its diverse neighborhoods, vibrant communities, and eclectic activities, is often seen as a more realistic place to buy a home in relation to San Francisco. Though, with space becoming more scarce, local and foreign developers buying up property, and the highest year-over-year change in annual median house sale price, spiking to $200,000, that fact seems to be changing.

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The coastal area came to prominence in the middle of the nineteenth century as the part of the Bay Area most accessible by land from the east. The shoreline is an urban corridor with several cities exceeding 1 million residents which includes Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, Richmond, and Berkeley. The Greater Oakland-Berkeley East Bay region has experienced a 21% increase in median house sale price from 2020 to 2021. For a point of reference, Sonoma County and San Francisco only saw a 9% increase, according to Compass’ Bay Area Market Report.

Looking at the combined markets of Oakland, Piedmont, Alameda, Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito, and Richmond, the average house dollar per square foot has increased more than $100 from $653 in Q1 2021 to $764 in Q2 2021. It seems it’s no coincidence that after the “exodus” of people fleeing the Bay Area that people wanting to return are finding values at all-time highs. When the pandemic hit, the price per square foot ranged from $550 – $600 which allowed big investors, knowing the pandemic was not a matter of if but when, took advantage of the sale in front of them.

Compass / Bay Area Market Report

In the June 2021 update of Compass’ Bay Area Market Reports, the largest portion of homes for sale in the Oakland-Berkeley Inner East Bay Region is in the range of $500,000 – $749,000. For people looking to buy East Bay real estate under $1 million, that should be good news. The total dollar volume was approximately $4.1 billion spread across 3,820 properties – a mean average of just over $1 million. Some more ranges: 11% of home sales were under $500,000; 19% of home sales were under $750,000 – $999,999; 11%-13% of home sales were between $1,000,000 – $2,000,000 and the rest 6% and under between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000. That’s a big difference when eager home buyers are looking at housing and apartments for sale in San Francisco.

Of course, there are a number of reasons for the vast divide of housing prices between East Bay and San Francisco. From tech workers having to commute over the Bay Bridge to Silicon Valley or others using Bart, to the overall differences, too many to note here, between cities, buyers can see the disparities. In that case, buyers should consider the saying, just because it costs more doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better, or something like that. If new homeowners are eager to buy in the East Bay but are hesitant, they should really consider the neighborhood, the schools in the area if they have kids, and what their overall commute will look like. There are hundreds of other factors besides price.


Here are a few homes we found on Zillow below one million for which potential home buyers may like to make an offer.

Robin L. Dustan / Sotheby’s

Located in prime Rockridge just a  block to College Avenue, 368 Hudson was originally built in 1912 and has been in the same family since 1956.

Daniel Winkler / Winkler Real Estate Group

849 Milton is an excellent chance for a savvy investor to purchase a property and legalize a perfectly situated partially finished first floor to create two units.

Carrie Mcalister / The Grubb Co.

Enchanting cottage nestled in N. Berkeley Hills with beautiful exposed brick wall and vaulted wood ceilings.