Zillow: California has 210 million-dollar cities, with five metros in the top 10 nationwide

Welcome to the million-dollar club (and neighborhood) Cerritos, Placentia, San Gabriel and Tustin.

Those cities — and eight more — have become million-dollar cities, despite higher mortgage rates and fewer home shoppers able to buy a home.

California has a record 210 million-dollar cities, 12 more than a year ago – and more than the next five states combined, according to a new Zillow report. Zillow determines million-dollar cities based on the average home price for a typical home in the market, from San Diego to San Francisco.

The Golden State accounts for almost 40% of the million-dollar cities in the U.S. New York has 66 million-dollar cities, followed by New Jersey at 49.

59 MORE MILLION-DOLLAR CITIES NATIONWIDE

In California, the San Francisco metro region – such as Atherton and Tiburon – has 69 million-dollar cities, the second most in the U.S., behind only New York City. Los Angeles has 63 million-dollar cities, such as Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, the second most in the state. 



Half of the nation’s top 10 million-dollar cities are in California, including 18 in the San Jose region, the center of Silicon Valley.

Other cities in California added to the million-dollar party are Arroyo Grande, Bonita, Bonsall, Brea, Cambria, Orange, Pala, Pleasant Hill, San Luis Obispo, and Thousand Oaks. Three cities — Carnelian Bay, Tomales and Vernalis — fell below the million-dollar mark, thus leaving a total of 12 more cities to the high-priced home club.

The big price gains are great news for homeowners, especially those looking to sell, but another punch in the guy for home shoppers, many who remain priced out of the market.

Affordability is a critical concern for the housing market in California, where fewer than one of every six households could afford to buy a home during the final quarter of 2023, according to the California Association of Realtors. The current affordability rate is the lowest since 2007, when home prices soared and then tanked during the Great Recession.

California cities added to the $1 million+ club
  • Arroyo Grande
  • Bonita
  • Bonsall
  • Brea
  • Cambria
  • Cerritos
  • Orange
  • Pala
  • Placentia
  • Pleasant Hill
  • San Gabriel
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Thousand Oaks
  • Tustin

The U.S. has 550 million-dollar cities as of February 2024, 59 more than a year ago. It’s a dramatic reversal from a year ago, when higher mortgage rates stalled prices – and sales.

San Francisco is a tale of two sellers: About 18% lost money, but a majority walked away with a $482,000 payday. SHUTTERSTOCK

Almost 20% of home sellers in San Francisco lose money

The Bay Area blues are back for home sellers, at least temporarily.

Almost one of every five (18%) sellers in San Francisco endured a financial loss on their homes during a three-month period that ended in late February, according to industry tracker Redfin. 

The figure is almost five times more than the national average – and three times more than nearby Oakland.

It’s a punch-in-the-gut reminder that while home prices often increase – and sometimes at record-setting gains – there are also “soft” stretches in every market.

SOME CHEERS AND JEERS IN SAN FRANCISCO

The average home seller in San Francisco who lost money endured a $155,500 drop between the purchase and sales prices, almost four times more than the national average. 

However, the average home seller in San Francisco who enjoyed a profit walked away with $482,000, the third-highest gain in California. San Jose’s average home seller had a $695,000 gain, followed by $510,000 in Anaheim.



The Redfin report is the latest evidence that buying and selling homes is about location – and timing. The Bay Area has been dealing with a decline in prices during the past several months, largely because of higher mortgage rates and a wait-and-see approach from potential buyers and sellers.

In most cases, Bay Area home sellers who endured a financial loss were forced to sell because of life issues, such as a death, divorce or relocation for work.

Percentage of home sellers who lost money between Dec. ’23-Feb. ’24

Metro%of sellers who lost moneyAvg. financial loss for sellersAvg. gain for sellers
National4.3%– $39,912$196,016
Anaheim1.8%– $56,000$510,000
Los Angeles3.4%– $92,000$395,750
Oakland5.9%-$55,000$355,050
Riverside3.1%-$35,000$247,750
Sacramento4.0%-$30,250$224,500
San Diego1.9%-$110,000$390,000
San Francisco17.8%-$155,500$482,000
San Jose4.7%-$75,000$695,000

Source: Redfin

Foreclosures continue to increase despite a majority of homeowners with a mortgage considered equity rich, where they have more equity than debt based on the current value of their home. FLICKR

Foreclosures are back but pale compared to the pace during the housing crisis

Three metro regions in California had foreclosure notices increase at least 30% during the first quarter compared to a year ago, including a 40% surge in San Francisco, according to ATTOM Data.

Stockton and Sacramento – the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in the state during the Great Recession and the housing market collapse – had 34% and 32% jumps in foreclosure notices, respectively.

While the current figure of foreclosure notices is a significant increase from the 1,340 a year ago, it’s far from the rate during the Great Recession. California had an average of 60,000 filings every quarter between 2008 and 2011. 

Plus, many homeowners today have equity and are more likely to sell their home and enjoy a nifty profit than allow a mortgage lender to foreclose and erase the equity in the property. About half of homeowners with a mortgage in California are considered equity rich, with more equity than debt based on the current value of their home.

It’s also important to note that foreclosure filings cover a wide range of the lengthy foreclosure process, from the basic notice of default (the homeowner has missed a few payments) to a bank-forced auction or sale.

‘A MARKET IN TRANSITION’

Nationwide, about 95,350 homes received a foreclosure notice during the third quarter, a 3% increase from the fourth quarter, but off 1% from a year ago, according to ATTOM. 

California accounted for about 12% of the foreclosure notices nationwide, easily the most in the U.S., followed by Texas.  But the state’s foreclosure rate about one of every 1,276 homes with a mortgage – is only the 11th-highest in the U.S.

The first-quarter “foreclosure data reveals a market in transition,” says Rob Barber, CEO of ATTOM. “While foreclosures remain relatively stable, we’re closely monitoring these trends. Homeowners continue to hold significant equity, contributing to a persistently hot housing market.” 

Foreclosures increase in most metros in Q1 ’24

MetroForeclosure notices
Q1 ’24
% compared to a year ago
Bakersfield 438+0.5%
Fresno360+18.0%
Los Angeles3,252+5.6%
Riverside1,111+19.0%
Sacramento811+32.0%
San Diego521-17.0%
San Francisco1,188+40.0%
San Jose242-1.2%
Stockton282+34.0%

Source: ATTOM Data