Most Overpriced Zip Codes?

The Antiplanner grew up in the Rose City Park neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, zip code 97213, so it is with some pride that I read that Forbes magazine has declared 97213 to be one of the 10 most overpriced zip codes in the U.S. Forbes considers housing overpriced when the monthly mortgage you would have to pay to buy a house is significantly more than the rent for that house. Since few houses are for sale and for rent at the same time, as a proxy, Forbes divides the median home price by the median annual rent on homes with the same number of bedrooms in a zip code.

Frankly, this is just another effort by Forbes to get you to watch one of their advertisement-laden slide shows. So, to save you the time, here are the magazine’s rankings of the 10 most overpriced zip codes:

.   Neighborhood       City             Zip       P:R
.   TriBeCa            New York         10013     36.3
.   Chinatown          Boston           02111     30.5
.   Downtown           Seattle          98104     30.3
.   West Hollywood     Los Angeles      90038     30.2
.   Mission Hills      San Diego        92103     30.0
.   Outer Sunset       San Francisco    94122     28.5
.   Coronado           Phoenix          85006     27.1
.   Greenway Parks     Dallas           75209     26.7
.   Rose City Park     Portland         97213     26.6
.   Willow Glen        San Jose         95125     26.1

In other words, a house in TriBeCa will cost you 36 times the annual rent you would expect to pay for a rental home in the same zip code. Forbes only looked at the nation’s 40 largest cities, so suburbs and smaller cities are not included.

Most of the cities on the list are overpriced due to land-use regulation, but Dallas? Dallas doesn’t have much regulation. Why would it be so overpriced?

As some of the comments on the Forbes article point out, few of these zip codes are homogenous. In other words, the quality of the average 3-bedroom home for sale may be much higher than the average 3-bedroom rental. Forbes says that, in addition to number of bedrooms, it adjusted for price per square foot. But how do you adjust for price per square foot when that is exactly the indicator — rental vs. sale price per square foot — you are trying to distinguish?

So I don’t put much faith in the Forbes article. I suspect a more realistic assessment would find the 10 most overpriced zip codes would almost all be in California, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Still, it is an honor to have my old neighborhood included, and now I must get a note off to my parents, who still live in 97213, telling them to sell while the market is still overpriced.

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27 thoughts on “Most Overpriced Zip Codes?

  1. tripgrass

    It would seem that in a free market analysis of overpriced housing, the logical criteria would be at the neighborhood level: the number of homes on the market. If the market can’t clear, then the homes are overpriced. Otherwise…

  2. Dan

    It would seem that in a free market analysis of overpriced housing, the logical criteria would be at the neighborhood level:

    Since free markets don’t exist anywhere, the analysis would be a thought exercise only, but tripgrass is correct about the better scale of analysis being at the neighborhood level.

    That is: within ZIP codes, some neighborhoods are more desirable than others because of proximity to goods and services, schools, walkability, architecture, developer, trees, parks, other amenities. Folks bid up rents in neighborhoods with more amenities.

    If Randal had ever done real analysis, he’d have recommended going to the census block level because he’d have done this before and found better data (higher than the neighborhood level, but still).

    DS

  3. tripgrass

    Despite the non-existence of an absolute free market, in housing, when looking at the sale of a single home, with a particular buyer and particular seller, one gets a close approximation to the Econ 101 supply/demand curve. As Dan suggests, the demand is a function of many, at times perhaps even irrational, motivations. As is the seller’s price setting (which is why some realtors suggest personalizing your offer).

    If a neighborhood has few homes for sale, if people are willing to purchase homes at prices that would make less prosperous buyers sweat – that is, if the market is clearing – then the homes can hardly be said to be overpriced. They might be pricing some folks out of the market, but we’ve yet to consitutionaly protect one’s right to live in Crested Butte.

  4. Dan

    I think your comment is interesting, in that the Assessor indicator – “year built” comes into play here, in that older neighborhoods that are zoned single-fam and are not redeveloping cannot add new stock to increase the units for sale. So judging availability of amenities comes into play – as was the case in my old neighborhood in Seattle (platted 1890s, generally developed before 1920s). Thus a component of the ‘walk score’ tool is assessing desirability.

    At any rate, there’s a new study out that shows that in general in Utah, neighborhoods built before 1950 are more walkable and folk there have lower BMIs than newer neighborhoods.

    We also know that folk likely capitalize walkabilty into rents, as some will sort to these neighborhoods and bid up rents to ensure they get a house there (conversely, folk that sort to distant neighborhoods are not bidding up rents and are trading off time in the car to replace exercise).

    This also comes in to play with schools, proximate commercial areas, etc. Thus we get the Crested Buttes, Vails, Steamboats, etc where the rich bid up rents to be proximate to the mountains in their second homes (and the service workers have to live in distant towns).

    DS

  5. tripgrass

    Dan:
    I’m not familiar with the trend in other cities, but here in Tucson there is a concerted effort to apply a Historic District zoning to many central neighborhoods (the 1930-1960 subdivisions). Renovating a home in these areas is significantly more demanding (in money and time) than in comparable neighborhoods without the designation.
    This is a bit of an intellectual/moral problem for myself, because I have no problem with self-sorting on a city-level. I do not believe that attending to the daily infrastructural needs of 500,000 people can be accomplished without that dreaded word: planning. If Missoula or Portland want to restrict growth to some limit, that seems wise and morally acceptable.

    It does seem oppressive, though, and wrong, to tell a homeowner that if they renovate their home, the wall must be earthen tone, the window sills at a height equal to the 70th percentile of the street’s sill heights, and the entire design subject to the whims of a historical review comittee of 5 strangers who don;t even live in the neighborhood.

  6. Dan

    here in Tucson there is a concerted effort to apply a Historic District zoning to many central neighborhoods (the 1930-1960 subdivisions).

    I’ve been reading about that, and the issues with your I-237 or whatever that PPR bill is called that passed only because it was bundled with anti-Kelo in ’06. We call these ‘hysterical preservationists’ and in my last town the Board applied that designation to a house built after WWII, and the house was ugly as sh*t & being used for storage. Ugh.

    It does seem oppressive, though, and wrong, to tell a homeowner that if they renovate their home, the wall must be earthen tone, the window sills at a height equal to the 70th percentile of the street’s sill heights

    Well, if it’s a 19th C Victorian or Frank Lloyd Wright, that’s one thing. First-ring suburb, IMO no.

    DS

  7. Lorianne

    97213 is ‘overpriced’ because it is a highly sought after ‘close-in’ neighborhood. I lived in 97212 and it is the same.

    The prices reflect the sensible street layout(grid), tree lined steets, cute houses up the wazoo, pocket parks, walk-to ammenities and CLOSE proximity to downtown.

    Again, these houses are older, much smaller than a comparable priced house in the burbs, much smaller lots (typically 50 x 100) … many have one or no-car garages (many people park their BMW’s and what have you on the street).

    People pay the big bucks to live in 97213esque neighborhoods because they are NICE PLACES TO LIVE, convenient to everythings, walkable, parks, neighborhood pubs and shops, mixed uses within walking distance, etc etc.

    In short, they are exactly what New Urbanism is trying to copy. Only 97213 (and 97212) are the real McCoy. Not fake New Urbanism … they are authentic Old Urbanism. (And they are ILLEGAL TO BUILD under most zoning codes from the 1960’s up until today in most places.)

    You’ll find similar neighborhoods all across America and they are high-priced … for the same reasons. They are NICE places to live.

    People like old urbanism neighborhoods and are willing to pay a helluva lot more money for less house and less yard than they could get in the ‘burbs. They must be getting something for their money …. but this ‘something’ is simply unfathomable to people who prefer the ‘burbs. So they come up with elaborate theories why people would are forced to pay so much for so little (in their eyes). Obviously, no sane person would buy these houses except under duress.

    The Free Market proves that traditional urbanism commands more $$$ per square foot than sububanism.

  8. craig

    I bought my first house in 1974 in Portland when you could buy a home in the 97213 area at the low end for 18 to $25,000.

    Before urban growth boundaries and making a little over the minimum wage.

    Back when, if you needed a zoning change you petitioned your neighbors .

    We had local control of zoning and cheap housing before the planners and politicians fixed that problem.

  9. Unowho

    AP wrote:
    “…this is just another effort by Forbes to get you to watch one of their advertisement-laden slide shows. So, to save you the time…”
    Thanks. I bailed before the first commercial was over.

    Article was useless, and it’s almost embarassing that the Capitalist Tool would allow “P/E ratio” to describe owners’ equivalent rents. However, it was interesting that 7 of the 10 zip codes are covered by DataQuick. Median prices in the SD, Phe, and Portland zips all fell farther on a percentage basis, year to year, than their respective counties (note, some reports are current only through the 1st quarter of ’08). No SF countywide summary, but 94122 fell 8.2%. SJ lost 4.6% but did much better than its county. The two gainers were West Hollywood (up 35.7%, SFR only, no condos) and Seattle, up 42.9% (ending 1st quarter ’08), albeit on very thin (21 transactions for the quarter) and falling volume. The latter, of course, is pre-Denny Triangle announcement.

    I expect Forbes will reprint the article next year with the title “America’s Frothiest Zip Codes.”

  10. Ettinger

    “It does seem oppressive, though, and wrong, to tell a homeowner that if they renovate their home, the wall must be earthen tone, the window sills at a height equal to the 70th percentile of the street’s sill heights, and the entire design subject to the whims of a historical review comittee of 5 strangers who don;t even live in the neighborhood.”

    The time that such regulations are most oppressive is the exact time when they are enacted. It is then that the arbitrary decrease in value for the owner (i.e. transfer of wealth from the owner to the community at large) occurs. Once the regulation is in place, it takes more the character of a voluntary contract. You voluntarily buy the house and its attached restriction at whatever price you think it’s worth. The owner, however, who underwent the transition from no regulation to (historical ordinance) regulation is irreparably screwed.

    So the oppressive aspect is when you move into a house under a regime that allows you to renovate it as you wish, and then, 1-2-5 years later when you’re ready, a new historic preservation ordinance cuts your plans, and lowers the value of your (now historic house) in order to increase the value of your neighbors’ (non historic) houses. Arbitrary transfer of wealth taken from the few owners of the just declared historic houses and distributed to the owners of the non-historic houses.

    Bottom line, when you see your house approaching “historical ordinance age” and are not ready to tear it down yet, then sell it and move to freer pastures.

  11. Dan

    Bottom line, when you see your house approaching “historical ordinance age” and are not ready to tear it down yet, then sell it and move to freer pastures.

    Unless you care about community, the neighborhood, being proximate to your friends and services (a la Lorianne above). Then you stay.

    DS

  12. Ettinger

    …sure, if you are captive, you’re likely to stay but I can hardly see why this type of extortion is a noble thing. If, on the other hand, you simply own the house but do not live in it, you simply do not renew the rental agreement (double gain for the hypocritical community: historical preservation at somebody else’s expense and fewer renters which nobody seems to like).

    Lorianne: “The Free Market proves that traditional urbanism commands more $$$ per square foot than sububanism.”

    If traditional urbanism is underrepresented in the current mix then there is a simple solution for the urban planning minded. They can use just a tiny fraction of the 98% of the US surface that is available (currently non urbanized) and start there whatever their concept of the ideal Nouvelle Ville is. I would welcome such a free market experiment. And I am sure that there are thousands of farmers and ranchers that would be delighted to participate in the experiment and have their land zoned high density urban.

  13. Dan

    …sure, if you are captive, you’re likely to stay but I can hardly see why this type of extortion is a noble thing.

    I hear there’s an investment opportunity in Egypt for some single-fam, to replace these dusty old outdated stone piles. People need housing, dontcha know!

    DS

  14. prk166

    “People pay the big bucks to live in 97213esque neighborhoods because they are NICE PLACES TO LIVE, convenient to everythings, walkable, parks, neighborhood pubs and shops, mixed uses within walking distance, etc etc.”

    There are a lot of places like this. Likewise most any major city has neighborhoods that fit this description yet don’t have the same demand for housing. No one’s calling Denver’s Five Points, Lincoln Park or Minneapolis’ Jordan, Hawthorne, and Philips overpriced. They have parks, shops and bars, are convenient to everything, are walkable, good location for biking downtown, etc, etc. Yet most people insist they do NOT want to live in these neighborhoods. Maybe they’re something else to it beside offering these amenities,

  15. the highwayman

    Well thanks to people like O’Toole & Cox with their continued bullshit they produce for the elite few, to control the rest of us. The market as we see it hasn’t been honest for almost 100 years.

  16. Lorianne

    If traditional urbanism is underrepresented in the current mix then there is a simple solution for the urban planning minded. They can use just a tiny fraction of the 98% of the US surface that is available (currently non urbanized) and start there whatever their concept of the ideal Nouvelle Ville is.

    CAN’T. It’s illegal to build neighborhoods similar to (1900-1930 platted) neighborhoods. Zoning codes won’t allow it in the majority of places.

    Not so simple is it?

    I would welcome such a free market experiment.

    So would I. When do you think it’ll happen?

    And I am sure that there are thousands of farmers and ranchers that would be delighted to participate in the experiment and have their land zoned high density urban.

    But if they DID want to develop THEIR LAND using traditional neighborhood principles, they wouldn’t be allowed to. It’s illegal. So it’s not really their land is it?

    Furthermore, define density. I don’t consider areas like zip 97213 dense. They are mostly single family homes mostly on 50′ x 100′ lots. It’s illegal to build a neighborhood like 97213 today in most places.

    That is why 97213 (and others like it) are so expensive. There is a government induced scarcity of neighborhoods like them and lots of demand.

    Free market doesn’t lie.

  17. Ettinger

    Lorianne:”CAN’T. It’s illegal to build neighborhoods similar to (1900-1930 platted) neighborhoods. Zoning codes won’t allow it in the majority of places.

    Not so simple is it?”

    The main reason that it cannot be done on 98% of the US surface is that first of all it either lies outside some UGB or is somehow zoned to near zero density (i.e. 80-160 acre minimum).

    So, what is further away from the development freedom that you (pretend to) defend? Houston, which allows you to at least get up to a density of 5-7 dwellings per acre, or Oregon, which has de facto zoned 98% of its surface to near zero density? I do not hear a lot of new Urbanists lobbying to allow farmers and ranchers to do what they want with their land, which BTW represents 98% of the US land surface. Instead, they concentrate on trying to convince residents of the remaining 2% of the surface to change 20-50-100 year old covenants to higher density zoning.

    So, if you’re like most New Urbanists (my apologies if you are not) reveal your entire proposal and repeat the new Urbanism mantra in its entirety: “Mandated high density housing on the 1% of the land surface, where the New Urbanists decide, and mandated nearly zero density everywhere else”.

    L: ”But if they DID want to develop THEIR LAND using traditional neighborhood principles, they wouldn’t be allowed to. It’s illegal. So it’s not really their land is it?”

    Indeed, the central government planning minded say it is not they land. But still it is a lot more theirs in Texas than it is in Oregon.

  18. Dan

    The main reason that it cannot be done on 98% of the US surface is that first of all it either lies outside some UGB or is somehow zoned to near zero density (i.e. 80-160 acre minimum).

    Wetlands/floodplains, slopes, desert, forest/ag land making faulty reasoning aside, can you tell us the % of land in the US that is impacted by a UGB?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    DS

  19. Ettinger

    ”can you tell us the % of land in the US that is impacted by a UGB?”

    If it is not impacted by a UGB it is otherwise zoned so that no development of any measurable density can be built. The total surface of the US zoned residential/commercial/industrial does not exceed 3%. The other 97% is zoned off limits to any development, including new urbanism type developments. Yet, new urbanists rather than trying to free up some of that land for their (perhaps eventually successful) experiments and ideas, try to convince residents of the remaining 3% that is urbanized, to retroactively accept denser zoning while they want to keep the remaining 97% completely off limits to any development. How much land can 300mil people on a 3.8 mil square mile country possibly consume?

    ”Wetlands/floodplains, slopes, desert, forest/ag land”

    There are plenty of US urban/suburban areas in wetlands/slopes/deserts/forests/earthquake and hurricane territories and yes indeed floodplains! They simply mitigate those risks and/or accept the little risk that is left unmitigated. 1/3 of Holland is not only in a floodplain but actually below sea level. The other 1/3 is ex wetland. And they have been doing fine ever since the day when all they had available to keep the water out was 19th century pumping technology. As far as the ag land designation that is hardly worth mentioning since it is purely an artificial regulatory distinction.
    Needless to say that if one makes the argument that everything is part of the primordial ancient sacred Gaia then nothing should ever be built or developed and humans should go back to living in pre-industrial conditions.

  20. Dan

    he other 97% is zoned off limits to any development,

    Evidence please.

    if one makes the argument that everything is part of the primordial ancient sacred Gaia then nothing should ever be built or developed and humans should go back to living in pre-industrial conditions.

    Yawn. Tired, discredited strawman. Evidence please that someone says this.

    DS

  21. Lorianne

    The main reason that it cannot be done on 98% of the US surface is that first of all it either lies outside some UGB or is somehow zoned to near zero density (i.e. 80-160 acre minimum).

    I don’t think your 98% figure is correct, but it’s a moot point. Development has been happening continously for the past 50 years and there is and has been basically ONE zoning code, which is low density.

    It was and still is ILLEGAL to build any other way in in America in land that IS being developed. Developers are still required to follow the zoning codes developed in the late 1950-60’s. (very few NU developments have been allowed).

    And development has not slowed down one bit during this period (until very recently with the housing bubble bursting).

    The only reason a few NU developments have been allowed to be build is because a few New Urbanist worked their tails off to get zoning codes to be more flexible in a miniscule amount of places under very limited circumstances. Other than that, the general attitude of planning agencies across the land is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. 1950’s zoning is good enough for everyone, everywhere, for all time. No discussion.

    Is this not totalitarian?

    If I own a piece of developable land I cannot decide to develop it with, say 5,000 square foot lots with single family houses and mix in neighbohood stores, schools, churches, etc like 97213 and 97212 neighborhoods in Portland Oregon. IT’S ILLEGAL. It’s illegal even in Oregon to build a traditional 1920’s Oregonian type subdivision!

    Don’t take my word for it …. go down to your local zoning board and ask. Get a platt number and go down and propose a 97213 type of development and see what they say.

    So, what is further away from the development freedom that you (pretend to) defend?

    I don’t pretend anything. I’m stating what is a fact. There is one and only one zoning code in the United States for all intents and purposes for the past 50 years.

    Municipalities adopted boilerplate zoning ordinances across the land because it was easy and convenient, and hey, everyone was doing it. Then they became the status quo and inertia set in. No one wanted to look at different ways of doing things. Other ways, even were mandated OUT.

    Houston, which allows you to at least get up to a density of 5-7 dwellings per acre, or Oregon, which has de facto zoned 98% of its surface to near zero density?

    I don’t think you know what you are talking about. Oregon is littered with 1950’s style zoned subdivisions and they’re still being built to this day! I’ve tried to develop land there … I’ve lived it.

    I’m not as familiar with Houston but I’d be willing to bet if I had a 100 acre tract of land I would not be allowed to build a traditional NU neighborhood.

    I do not hear a lot of new Urbanists lobbying to allow farmers and ranchers to do what they want with their land.

    Really? The New Urbanist I know would just like their to be a CHOICE, rather than one basic boiler plate zoning code across the entire land that has been strictly enforced for over 50 years.

    It would be nice to have more than ONE way allowable to build-out new areas don’t you think?

    Instead, they concentrate on trying to convince residents of the remaining 2% of the surface to change 20-50-100 year old covenants to higher density zoning.

    You have a warped view of what New Urbanism is about. It is about allowing different development patterns, particularly in newly built areas, rather than having only one 50+ year old zoning code for everyplace.

    But speaking of covenants, isn’t that people telling other people what they can do with their property? If someone wants to build a granny flat on their property so their elderly mother can move in, they most probably can’t. It would be, again, ILLEGAL, to develop your own property to fit your needs.

    So, if you’re like most New Urbanists (my apologies if you are not) reveal your entire proposal and repeat the new Urbanism mantra in its entirety: “Mandated high density housing on the 1% of the land surface, where the New Urbanists decide, and mandated nearly zero density everywhere else”.

    I think people out to be allowed to develop their land they way they see fit. New Urbanist included. If you own the land, you get to decide … not some outdated zoning code, not your NIMBY neighbors.

    However, even if the New Urbanist agenda was “mandated high density” (which it’s not) how is that different than mandated low-density that we’ve had in place for over 50 years? Fair minded people would give New Urbanists 50+ years to mandate away with impunity. Then we could call it even. 🙂

    But that’s not what New Urbanist are asking for. Most places that have allowed NU developments have simply added a choice. They’ve not eliminated their old zoning codes, but rather they’ve added a new one. The new and old codes abide side by side …. developers can choose, instead of having only ONE choice (which is the totalitarianism of the last 50 years). Mind you, this has occured in so few places as to be statistically insignificant.

    Indeed, the central government planning minded say it is not they [thier] land.

    Yes, that’s correct! And they’ve been saying that for over 50 years!

    You should at least acknowledge that.

  22. Ettinger

    Lorianne: “I think people out to be allowed to develop their land they way they see fit. New Urbanist included. If you own the land, you get to decide … not some outdated zoning code, not your NIMBY neighbors.”

    Well said! You could have just said that and I would have agreed 100% with the rest of your posts on this topic.

    Now if you can convince Dan, and the other central government planning minded on this website to sign up to the above statement then I’ll sign up for New Urbanism.

  23. Dan

    Now if you can convince Dan, and the other central government planning minded on this website to sign up to the above statement then I’ll sign up for New Urbanism.

    No, you want to convince the 95% of the population who want zoning to protect them from their neighbors and anyone else who thinks they can develop their land without consideration for anyone else.

    Your evidence for this isn’t some pie-in-the-sky ideological book, but is on the ground: everywhere that folks have been asked if they want to implement this idea, it has been resoundingly defeated. Spanked. Slapped down. The ideology is not compelling to reg’lur folk.

    For good reason: it takes away their ability to protect their land from the likes of small-minority ideologues.

    DS

  24. Ettinger

    It is reassuring to hear that 95% of the public wants protectionist policies that keep outsiders out of their area – my ability to charge $800K to young aspiring productive individuals with knowledge jobs, rests secure.

  25. Dan

    Note how E. must misstate what I wrote to have play. This is why the M37/I-933-type initiatives fail in referenda across the country. When I worked on the I-933 campaign, all I had to do was point out how the pro- folks had to twist the issue to have play. The ideology can’t stand on its own merits, so it must do other things to get noticed. It wasn’t hard to do my job.

    DS

  26. Lorianne

    No, you want to convince the 95% of the population who want zoning to protect them from their neighbors and anyone else who thinks they can develop their land without consideration for anyone else.

    Exactly. Zoning is all about NIMBYISM and keeping “that sort” out. It’s about segregation, if not by race then by class, or income or religion or age or …. something. That’s why it was invented and that’s why so many want zoning protected. But not any zoning, only THEIR KIND OF ZONING.

    That’s what is so threatening to people about New Urbanism. It’s not that they are for property rights for everyone …. no, no. It’s that they want the government to protect their property value from decreasing … by the wrong sort mixing in. (Don’t ask me where they get the idea that’s the government’s job).

    Where they miss the ocean liner is that New Urbanism developments currently attract the elite in income and class. New Urban (and indeed Old Urban, traditional) neighbohoods are increasing in property values.

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