East Bay Housing Market: Oakland Hottest and San Ramon…

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San Ramon Schools Average SAT Scores 2010-2011

Our series exploring at the sizzling San Francisco Bay Area housing market continues with focus on the East Bay Area region.

Oakland, in fact, was recently cited as the hottest… real estate market in the country. Besides low interest rates, decreased inventory, and cash offers affecting the entire bay area, what are the other reasons that east bay house prices have hiked up and attracting buyers in droves?

The Bargain of the Bay

Historically, the east bay has offered better housing prices than the south and north bay areas, peninsula, and San Francisco—period. And with prices climbing even higher from Mountain View to Marin, migrating east offers homeowners still offers much-needed respite in this overheated market.

“Even with housing prices climbing in some east bay neighborhoods 20-25% since January, housing in the east bay is still inexpensive compared to other bay area regions,” according to Mona Koussa, a real estate agent specializing in the tri-valley area for more than 13 years,

Carla Higgins, who has been selling into Oakland, Berkeley, and Piedmont areas since 2000, pointed out that some buyers don’t want to migrate too far east from San Francisco, so are choosing to settle in right over the Bay Bridge in cities like Albany, Emeryville, and Alameda.

Doubling Down: Schools and Business

“San Ramon is becoming the darling of the east bay,” said Koussa. The area has been identified as The Wealthiest City in America, and is consistently recognized for its top schools. “Almost every single one of my clients is from Silicon Valley. They want great schools like Cupertino, and can get that in San Ramon but for less money,” Koussa said. Adding to the school cred, Piedmont, Albany, and Oakland feature some high-ranking schools, Higgins said.

Also driving traffic to the area, literally, is the Highway 680 corridor—which is a straight shot for commuters, from the peninsula to San Francisco. Add to that, tech and other businesses are making the east bay their home or expanding in the area, like Oracle, AT&T, PG&E, and a new G.E. research center.

A Trifecta of Arts, Culture, and Dining

As the east bay housing market continues to rise, so does its star as a Mecca for foodies and entertainment seekers. “Most people come to the east bay dragging their tails and pleasantly surprised at what they find,” said Higgins. “There is a great restaurant scene, arts events, and it’s starting to get a lot more buzz and awareness.”

Coupled with that, many regions are undergoing revitalization projects, from Oakland to Alameda, and other downtown cities. These changes are making the east bay a more desirable place to both live and play—eliminating the knee-jerk reaction to cross a bridge to seek good food and fun. This is also attracting visitors from across the bay area, ultimately infusing more money into local east bay economies.

Adding it Up

Homeowners heading east has gone into overdrive in 2013 and will likely continue its upward trajectory. With more home buyers seeking better deals around the bay area, companies expanding into the region, and city revitalization projects offering a thriving arts and dining scene, the east bay is becoming a more appealing choice for families, couples, and singles to make their home.

Next in the series this month: A closer look at housing trends on the peninsula and south bay.


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About Janice Cuban

Janice Cuban is Principal of LiveWire Communications. Her expertise includes residential and commercial real estate marketing and writing.

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