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Forget Location, Location, Location, It’s Water, Water, Water!

water hose

What a difference a city makes…in the uber-hot Bay Area, a staggering 43.5% of homes for sale are priced at $1 million bucks or above, according to real estate listing website Trulia.

Compare that to other major metros like Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia, where such listings account for fewer than five percent of listings.

In fact, million-dollar listings account for fewer than five percent of all listings in 68 of the top 100 metros nationwide, which clearly illustrates the lopsided distribution of real estate wealth in this country.

If you want to take it a step further, less than two percent of listings are million-dollar homes in 44 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

What Does $1 Million Get You in San Francisco?

The saddest part about San Francisco’s real estate situation is that despite the ridiculous valuations, you don’t get very much for your money, unless you really like fog.

That’s right, for $1 million or more, you only get a median sized home of 1,774 square feet. In other words, you’re probably looking at a townhouse or a condo in the city.

And it certainly won’t be large enough to accommodate your family of four, unless you want to live on top of each other.

Surprisingly, New York City wasn’t even in the top five in terms of percentage of million dollar listings.  The Big Apple secured the sixth spot with 20.8% of listings in the $1 million plus category.

It was surpassed by Fairfield County, CT (29.7% share), San Jose, CA (25.7% share), Orange County, CA (24.4% share), and Ventura County, CA (21.5% share).

Rounding out the top 10 were Long Island, NY (), Honolulu, HI (), Los Angeles, CA (), and San Diego ().

It Turns Out Water Is Really Expensive

The takeaway from this list is that being close to the water is HUGE. Of the top 10 million-dollar metros, only one isn’t directly located next to a major body of water.

I’m referring to San Jose, CA, which isn’t on the beach, but still isn’t very far from the San Francisco Bay or the Pacific Ocean.

The rest are a stone’s throw from the nearest beach, making them pretty darn attractive to prospective home buyers.

Their proximity to water also creates a major geographical barrier that limits housing supply, a serious buffer for property values.

In areas that are wide open, supply can be relatively limitless, which doesn’t offer house values much protection.

But back to square footage. Being close to the water also means you get a lot less square footage for your buck.

The top 10 million-dollar metros in terms of least square footage are also situated by the ocean, where median size ranges from 1,489 square feet in NYC to 2,750 square feet in Providence, Rhode Island.

The largest million-dollar homes can be found in Birmingham, Alabama, where the median size is an impressive 8,059 square feet. Of course, it’s about 250 miles to the beach.

You can also get a ginormous home in Toledo, Ohio (7,087 square feet) or Indianapolis, Indiana (7,036 square feet), both of which aren’t anywhere close to a local surf spot.

In fact, all of the top 10 largest million-dollar metros in terms of square footage are landlocked.

So there you have it, water is everything.

Read more: Is Google about to replace your real estate agent?

(photo: Greg Smith)

1 thought on “Forget Location, Location, Location, It’s Water, Water, Water!”

  1. Absolutely. Even in Saskatoon, a prairie city, the highest real estate values are the ones that lay on either side of the river. Everybody wants to be near, or look at, water.

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