Way back in 1990, the Internet was in its infancy, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was in grade school, and a single-family home in the Bay Area’s most affluent counties could be had for about $350,000 at the most — despite 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages that averaged 10.13 percent.
Today’s mortgage rates are low by historical standards, but Northern California has become one of the most expensive places in the U.S. to purchase a home, the result of intense demand amid inventory shortages and construction rates that have failed to keep up with population growth. Archived data from the California Association of Realtors shows just how different U.S., state, and Bay Area home prices were when Joe Montana was the king of San Francisco and Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco reigned supreme in Oakland:
United States: Twenty-five years ago, the median-priced U.S. home could be yours for less than six figures: $97,300. By the end of 2015, national prices had climbed to an all-time high of $223,900, a long-term gain of 130 percent.
California: Golden State homes still cost about twice as much as the national average in 1990: $193,770. By the end of last year, a single-family California home had a median sales price of $474,420 — still short of the 2007 peak but 145 percent more than 1990 prices.
San Mateo County: CAR also lacks 1990 data for San Mateo County median prices, but one year later they stood at $328,310. By the end of last year, homes in the county were priced at $1,250,000, up 281 percent over 25 years. San Mateo home prices closed 2015 at a record high.
Santa Clara County: If old-school prices in San Francisco seem unbeleivably inexpensive by today’s standards, consider Silicon Valley’s hub, where a home ran $245,670 in 1990. That’s 287 percent less than CAR’s most recent numbers, which peg the median at $950,410, a Santa Clara County record. After dropping by about 20 percent in 2007 and 2008, prices in the county bounced back by about the same amount in 2013.