The Cheapest Houses in the Priciest Towns

  • The 10 Least Expensive Houses in the 10 Most Expensive Zip Codes

    The first rule of real estate is location, location, location. Why? A home can be enlarged, repaired, renovated, updated and upgraded but it cannot be picked up and moved to a better or more desirable location. The "best" location is subjective, but certainly one of the best locations to buy real estate is in one of the 10 most expensive zip codes in the U.S. — if you can afford it. According to data combined by Forbes, the 10 most expensive zip codes in the U.S. have an astonishing combined median home price average of $3,454,392. All 10 of the most expensive zip codes are located in just three areas: California, New York and its less sexy but still expensive neighbor New Jersey. The bad economy and slumping housing market have touched even the most affluent communities. Of the 10 most expensive zip codes in the country, only three saw price gains in 2009 and the other seven saw drops ranging from a not so bad 5% to a painful 26%. With real estate prices still on the decline and interest rates low, is it a good time to buy into one of the top 10 most expensive zip codes? It is possible to buy in most of the country’s priciest communities for far less than the median home price but the cold hard truth of the matter is that in most cases, it still takes a way above average income to buy even the least expensive property in one of the most expensive zip codes. Photo Credit: sashafatcat
    1. Alpine, N.J.
  • 1. Alpine, N.J.

    The relatively homogenous housing stock and easy-peasy 15-minute commute into Manhattan has consistently put teeny tiny Alpine, N.J. (zip: 07620) at the top of the list of the most expensive zip codes in the U.S. The posh enclave, home to folks like Sean Combs and Stevie Wonder, once again landed in the top spot in 2009 with a mind-melting median home price of $4,139,041. One of the least expensive homes available in Alpine is, surprisingly, priced well under the median at $799,000. Photo Credit: Antoinette Gangi / ReMax Woodcliff Lake
    Alpine Escape
  • Alpine Escape

    The historical, Colonial farmhouse dates back to 1894 and includes three bedrooms and 1 ½ bathrooms. The updated two-story clapboard-sided residence retains some of its original detail and architectural characteristics with red shutters and a turned banister in the entrance hall. Photo Credit: Antoinette Gangi / ReMax Woodcliff Lake
    Alpine Escape (cont.)
  • Alpine Escape (cont.)

    Other original and historic details retained include yellow pine floors, cast iron radiators and unique window moldings in both the front parlor and formal dining room. Photo Credit: Antoinette Gangi / ReMax Woodcliff Lake
    Alpine Escape (cont.)
  • Alpine Escape (cont.)

    The eat-in country kitchen has a pass through to the family room addition where the ceiling is vaulted and sliding glass doors open to the backyard. Photo Credit: Antoinette Gangi / ReMax Woodcliff Lake
    Alpine Escape (cont.)
  • Alpine Escape (cont.)

    The expansive back yard, ringed by mature trees, has a large lawn area, a detached shed or studio and plenty of room for a swimming pool or addition that will put it on par with its mansion neighbors. Photo Credit: Antoinette Gangi / ReMax Woodcliff Lake
    2. Atherton, Calif.
  • 2. Atherton, Calif.

    Atherton, Calif. (zip: 94027), a sleepy but ritzy community south of San Francisco, comes in second with a median home price of $3,849,133. The bottom of the market in Atherton zooms over $1 million and the least expensive house on the open market carries a price tag of $1.1 million. The totally renovated two-bedroom and one-bathroom ranch bungalow measures 1,194 square feet and has hardwood floors, a stone fireplace in the living room, a bathroom redone in vintage style with black and white tile flooring, and the large eat-in kitchen opens to the deep and flat backyard. There is also a bonus room and utility room, a true luxury in a small house even if it is a million-dollar dwelling. Photo Credit: Victor Spicer / Keller Williams Realty
    3. NYC West Village
  • 3. NYC West Village

    During the past 15 years, New York City’s West Village neighborhood (zip: 10014), once an outpost of arty-farty bohemian types living in coldwater flats, has gentrified into the country’s third most expensive zip code with a median home price of $3,521,514. An itty-bitty studio on a quintessentially charming street is currently listed at $348,000, just less than 10% of the median neighborhood price. It’s also less than 300 square feet. The über-wee space is, fortunately, well laid out with a separate — if petite — kitchen, full bath with tub and a dining alcove. Photo Credit: Tim Cass and Tanya Egg / Corcoran
    4. Bradbury, Calif.
  • 4. Bradbury, Calif.

    The fourth most expensive zip code in the U.S. is Bradbury, Calif. (zip: 91008), a little known community nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains where the median price of a home is a whopping $3,444,773. The bottom of the real estate barrel in Bradbury is a tidy four-bedroom and three-bathroom single story ranch listed at $999,000.Photo Credit: Sunshine Coyle-Pardo / Coldwell Banker George
    Bradbury (cont.)
  • Bradbury (cont.)

    The dated but well-maintained home has many upgraded services such as dual-pane windows and electrical and sits on nearly half an acre of landscaped grounds dotted with mature shade trees and includes a spacious backyard swimming pool and spa, built-in fire pit, covered patio and pretty mountain views. Photo Credit: Sunshine Coyle-Pardo / Coldwell Banker George
    5. Beverly Hills, Calif.
  • 5. Beverly Hills, Calif.

    One of the most famous zip codes in the entire country is undoubtedly 90210 — Beverly Hills, Calif. — where the median house price sits at a breathtaking $3,367,167. The canyon roads that connect the glitzy city with the less glittery San Fernando Valley are lined with surprisingly modest homes, some former hunting cabins from the 1920s and 30s. One of those cabins is currently listed at $599,000. The one-bedroom and 1¼-bathroom cottage has a two-car garage, huge pictures windows with tree-top views, all new hardwood floors, new plumbing, an open plan living space, remodeled kitchen with stainless steel cabinetry and glass fronted cabinets. Photo Credit: Najdi Rafaty
    6. Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
  • 6. Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

    Just north of San Diego, a costly inland community called Rancho Santa Fe (zip: 92067) comes in as the sixth most expensive zip code with a median home price of $3,362,493. The least expensive house currently on the market in the posh community is a four-bedroom and four-bathroom Mediterranean style house in a gated golf community listed at $799,000. The nearly new 3,000+ square-foot house includes a first-floor master suite with fireplace, formal living and dining rooms, gourmet kitchen, family room and a fireplace. Photo Credit: Theresa Gerety / The Westphal Group
    7. Montecito, Calif.
  • 7. Montecito, Calif.

    The coastal California community of Montecito (zip: 93108) — where Oprah spends weekends at her $40 million mansion — comes in as the seventh most expensive community in the U.S. with a median price of $3,284,652. The least expensive house in Montecito on the open market is currently listed at $2,495,000. The single level contemporary measures 2,875 square feet and includes four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an acre of meticulously maintained gardens and lawns, a multi-level flagstone terrace with outdoor fireplace, and a sunken hot tub privately situated off the master bedroom. Photo Credit: Wendy Gragg / Distinctive Real Estate
    8. Los Altos Hills, Calif.
  • 8. Los Altos Hills, Calif.

    In the Los Altos Hills (zip: 94024), smack in the middle of northern California’s Silicon Valley, where the median price of a home comes in at $3,277,500, the least expensive home on the open market is a 1,680 square-foot ranch house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an asking price of $1,299,000. The single story house, surrounded by multi-million dollar estates, has refinished hardwood floors, living, dining and family rooms, an older but well-maintained eat-in kitchen, and a huge, flat backyard with a shaded terrace and lots of mature trees. Photo Credit: Joe Piazza / Alain Pinel Realtors
    9. NYC Upper East Side
  • 9. NYC Upper East Side

    New York City’s Upper East Side (zip: 10065) comes in with a median home price of $3,176,534. However, there are a number of smaller, more affordable apartments in the neighborhood such as a mint condition E. 63rd Street studio with 575 square feet and an asking price of $259,000. The carefully renovated apartment has a space-saving Murphy bed, a huge eat-in kitchen and renovated bathroom. The only hitch is the massive maintenance fees that run a staggering $2,015 a month. Photo Credit: Alexander Pisa / Corcoran
    10. Brookside, N.J.
  • 10. Brookside, N.J.

    The tenth most expensive zip code in the country belongs to Brookside, N.J. (zip: 07926), where the median asking price settles in at $3,121,115. A 1920 Colonial, currently the least expensive house on the market in the zip code, has three bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms and a surprisingly affordable asking price of $379,000. The brick and clapboard house has updated heating systems, fresh paint, a new kitchen floor, six skylights, two fireplaces and a two-car detached garage. Photo Credit: Drusilla McNair / Coldwell Banker
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