New York Dominates 2014 List of America’s Most Expensive ZIP Codes

In Atherton, Calif., 94027, the most expensive home currently on the market is a 12,840-square-foot Mediterranean mansion with a $21.988 million price tag. Not a millionaire? Good luck finding a place to live in this Silicon Valley enclave. The least expensive home for sale in the 94027 ZIP code is a 1,370-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath bungalow. In other words, a starter home–with an asking price of $1.499 million. For more real estate listings visit

The median price of the 24 homes listed for sale over the summer was $9.03 million, making Atherton the most expensive ZIP code in America for the second year in a row.

94-million-classic-french-mansion-in-atherton-california-5“Atherton is drawing a lot of young executives: CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs,” says Ken DeLeon, a Silicon Valley broker whose firm, DeLeon Realty, has $480 million in sales closed or pending to date this year. “And the international buyers really draw on the prestige.”

For Silicon Valley’s wealthy, Atherton offers proximity to the area’s tech start-ups as well as its big public companies, including Apple in Cupertino, and Facebook and Google in Mountain View. Another advantage over prestigious, yet further out areas (such as Woodside, home to billionaires Larry Ellison of Oracle and Scott Cook of Intuit) is Atherton’s relatively relaxed building regulations. “If you drive up and down Atherton Avenue all you see are huge construction, 12,000-square-foot homes,” DeLeon says. Younger, tech-rich buyers who want a more urban feel like that Atherton is just minutes away from downtown Menlo Park and Palo Alto, DeLeon says.

But Atherton 94027 is the only Bay Area ZIP—or California ZIP code, for that matter–to crack the top 10 on our 2014 list of America’s Most Expensive ZIP Codes. This year New York City dominates the list, with six ZIP codes among the top 10. Long Island’s Sagaponack 11962, in the town of Southampton, grabs the No. 2 slot, followed by three consecutive New York City ZIPS: Lower Manhattan’s 10013 (No. 3), the Upper East Side’s 10065 (No. 4) and 10075 (No. 5). Such zip codes could definitely offer you a luxurious home to live in or a high ROI real estate that is worth investing in.

Behind the Numbers

Forbes’ annual list of America’s Most Expensive Zip Codes is based on data from Altos Research, a Mountain View, Calif.-based real estate analysis firm. For this ranking, Altos calculated the median home prices for more than 28,500 U.S. ZIP codes (covering 95% of the U.S. population) using asking prices for single-family homes and condominiums listed for sale. To account for any blips that might occur when an unusually high-priced property comes on the market, Altos used a rolling average for the 90-day period ending September 19. For each ZIP code, Altos weighted prices according to the mix of property types in that market. As a result, ski towns with a high preponderance of condominiums see their median price pushed down, even if single-family homes in these areas are priced very high. Also, co-ops were not included, which may have artificially depressed the median prices for ZIP codes within some of Manhattan’s toniest Central Park neighborhoods. For affordable and quality homes, the guidance of canary wharf estate agents is truly essential. They can assist you in locating a home that perfectly suits your desires.

We’ve used this methodology for many years, and it of course is not the only way to go. Closed sales, for example, are a more traditional metric for calculating an area’s median price. But we decided to use asking prices again this year for a couple of reasons. “Closed sales are by definition old data and a small sample size. The active market is what you experience when you walk in to a market right now and look around,” points out Mike Simonsen, president of Altos Research. “Where there might be a couple sales recently in Atherton, there are 24 on the market right now. In our analytic view, right now is a far better representation of ‘the market.’ ”

We think that’s a fair way to look at the market. “Asking price and sales price are highly correlated,” Simonsen argues. “Any given property may be over- or under-priced, but in aggregate they are essentially the same number. With the real-time measure, you just know four months ahead of time. “ Supporting this approach, a recent study by New York appraisal firm Miller Samuel found that in Manhattan, 49.2% of listings sold for at or above the asking price during Q3 2014.

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