Special Report

The Most Expensive US Counties to Buy a Home

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The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an unprecedented surge in demand for homes in the United States. Inventory is at a record low, as is the average time homes are on the market. Meanwhile, both home prices and the share of homes selling above asking price have reached record highs. 

Of course, in some parts of the country, exorbitant home prices are nothing new. Even before the pandemic, there were counties across the country where most homes had an estimated value of about half a million dollars and higher. Meanwhile, the median home value nationwide is $217,500. 

Using data on median home value from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most expensive counties to buy a home in the United States. Our analysis includes county and county equivalents, such as independent cities. Counties with less than 1,000 housing units were not considered. Most of the counties on this list are in the Western United States, including 18 in California alone. 

Home values in a given area are often a reflection of what residents can afford. And not surprisingly, with only one exception, the median annual household income exceeds the $62,843 national median in every county on this list. Here is a look at the best counties to live in

Still, despite the higher incomes, home values in the counties on this list are high enough that buyers are more likely than average to have to rely on a mortgage. In most counties on this list, the share of homeowners who are financing with a mortgage is above the 62.7% share of homeowners with a mortgage nationwide. High home prices also appear to make homeownership prohibitively expensive for many living in these counties, as most counties on this list have a lower homeownership rate than the 64.0% rate nationwide. Here is a look at the counties where the most people have debt in collections.

Click here to see the most expensive U.S. counties to buy a home.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.

50. Placer County, California
> Median home value: $471,500
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,377 — 54th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 71.5% — 119th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 71.9% — 1,370th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $89,691 — 71st highest of 3,044 counties

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49. San Miguel County, Colorado
> Median home value: $479,300
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,169 — 86th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 62.2% — 627th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 61.0% — 282nd lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $67,038 — 385th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)

48. Montgomery County, Maryland
> Median home value: $484,900
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,566 — 43rd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 73.2% — 74th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 65.4% — 566th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $108,820 — 20th highest of 3,044 counties

47. San Juan County, Washington
> Median home value: $488,800
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,898 — 151st highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 54.7% — 1,278th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 74.6% — 1,184th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $63,622 — 537th highest of 3,044 counties

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46. Nassau County, New York
> Median home value: $493,500
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,246 — 9th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 63.7% — 522nd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 80.7% — 293rd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $116,100 — 11th highest of 3,044 counties

45. Monroe County, Florida
> Median home value: $494,100
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,651 — 33rd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 47.0% — 1,065th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 59.5% — 237th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $70,033 — 310th highest of 3,044 counties

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44. Suffolk County, Massachusetts
> Median home value: $496,500
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,420 — 52nd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 72.3% — 96th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 36.1% — 7th lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $69,669 — 319th highest of 3,044 counties

43. Boulder County, Colorado
> Median home value: $497,300
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,049 — 112th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 68.9% — 221st highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 62.2% — 351st lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $83,019 — 130th highest of 3,044 counties

42. Middlesex County, Massachusetts
> Median home value: $500,700
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,609 — 35th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 69.5% — 189th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 62.4% — 364th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $102,603 — 28th highest of 3,044 counties

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41. Richmond County, New York
> Median home value: $504,800
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,535 — 44th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 68.4% — 245th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 69.3% — 980th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $82,783 — 132nd highest of 3,044 counties

40. Loudoun County, Virginia
> Median home value: $508,100
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,805 — 20th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 84.3% — 2nd highest of 3,044 counties
> Homeownership rate: 78.0% — 612th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $142,299 — 1st highest of 3,044 counties

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39. Monterey County, California
> Median home value: $516,600
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,265 — 68th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 67.0% — 320th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 51.0% — 55th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $71,015 — 289th highest of 3,044 counties

38. Routt County, Colorado
> Median home value: $535,300
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,967 — 129th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 64.6% — 463rd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 71.2% — 1,246th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $77,443 — 192nd highest of 3,044 counties

37. Westchester County, New York
> Median home value: $540,600
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,452 — 4th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 64.7% — 457th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 61.4% — 306th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $96,610 — 52nd highest of 3,044 counties

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36. Queens County, New York
> Median home value: $543,800
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,607 — 36th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 57.3% — 1,048th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 44.8% — 29th lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $68,666 — 344th highest of 3,044 counties

35. King County, Washington
> Median home value: $549,200
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,477 — 48th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 72.2% — 101st highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 56.9% — 155th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $94,974 — 56th highest of 3,044 counties

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34. San Benito County, California
> Median home value: $551,500
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,517 — 45th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 76.8% — 21st highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 63.7% — 437th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $86,958 — 99th highest of 3,044 counties

33. Fairfax city, Virginia
> Median home value: $560,400
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,750 — 25th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 78.0% — 11th highest of 3,044 counties
> Homeownership rate: 70.0% — 1,080th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $116,979 — 10th highest of 3,044 counties

32. Eagle County, Colorado
> Median home value: $562,300
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,209 — 75th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 73.1% — 77th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 69.8% — 1,056th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $84,790 — 118th highest of 3,044 counties

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31. Fairfax County, Virginia
> Median home value: $563,100
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,729 — 28th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 76.1% — 26th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 68.0% — 800th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $124,831 — 3rd highest of 3,044 counties

30. San Diego County, California
> Median home value: $563,700
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,578 — 39th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 71.8% — 113th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 53.3% — 92nd lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $78,980 — 179th highest of 3,044 counties

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29. Kauai County, Hawaii
> Median home value: $570,700
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,267 — 67th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 58.8% — 897th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 63.2% — 403rd lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $83,554 — 124th highest of 3,044 counties

28. Alexandria city, Virginia
> Median home value: $572,900
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,773 — 24th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 77.7% — 13th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 43.3% — 20th lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $100,939 — 33rd highest of 3,044 counties

27. San Luis Obispo County, California
> Median home value: $574,000
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,351 — 57th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 65.3% — 422nd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 61.6% — 318th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $73,518 — 247th highest of 3,044 counties

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26. Santa Barbara County, California
> Median home value: $577,400
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,364 — 55th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 64.5% — 471st highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 52.1% — 70th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $74,624 — 228th highest of 3,044 counties

25. Summit County, Colorado
> Median home value: $579,600
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,891 — 155th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 74.4% — 48th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 65.5% — 577th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $79,277 — 177th highest of 3,044 counties

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24. Los Angeles County, California
> Median home value: $583,200
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,498 — 46th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 71.6% — 117th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 45.8% — 31st lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $68,044 — 353rd highest of 3,044 counties

23. Ventura County, California
> Median home value: $588,400
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,567 — 42nd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 72.7% — 88th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 63.2% — 403rd lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $88,131 — 85th highest of 3,044 counties

22. Washington, District of Columbia
> Median home value: $601,500
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,569 — 41st highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 75.8% — 34th highest of 3,044 counties
> Homeownership rate: 41.6% — 15th lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $86,420 — 105th highest of 3,044 counties

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21. Sonoma County, California
> Median home value: $609,600
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,441 — 50th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 67.0% — 320th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 61.5% — 308th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $81,018 — 155th highest of 3,044 counties

20. Pitkin County, Colorado
> Median home value: $615,900
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $1,996 — 123rd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 61.6% — 662nd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 65.0% — 528th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $78,935 — 180th highest of 3,044 counties

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19. Contra Costa County, California
> Median home value: $625,800
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,745 — 26th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 73.6% — 70th highest of 3,044 counties
> Homeownership rate: 65.9% — 604th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $99,716 — 40th highest of 3,044 counties

18. Maui County, Hawaii
> Median home value: $633,500
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,432 — 51st highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 67.4% — 299th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 61.0% — 282nd lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $80,948 — 156th highest of 3,044 counties

17. Napa County, California
> Median home value: $635,900
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,665 — 32nd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 64.6% — 463rd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 64.2% — 465th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $88,596 — 82nd highest of 3,044 counties

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16. Summit County, Utah
> Median home value: $641,900
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,256 — 70th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 70.7% — 141st highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 77.4% — 712th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $102,958 — 27th highest of 3,044 counties

15. Honolulu County, Hawaii
> Median home value: $678,200
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,607 — 36th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 67.1% — 314th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 56.2% — 138th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $85,857 — 108th highest of 3,044 counties

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14. Orange County, California
> Median home value: $679,300
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,789 — 21st highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 70.5% — 149th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 57.4% — 165th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $90,234 — 68th highest of 3,044 counties

13. Dukes County, Massachusetts
> Median home value: $699,500
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,414 — 53rd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 53.2% — 1,404th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 72.3% — 1,427th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $71,811 — 272nd highest of 3,044 counties

12. Arlington County, Virginia
> Median home value: $705,400
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,011 — 12th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 74.8% — 42nd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 42.7% — 17th lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $120,071 — 8th highest of 3,044 counties

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11. Kings County, New York
> Median home value: $706,000
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,903 — 14th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 61.1% — 699th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 30.1% — 4th lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $60,231 — 739th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)

10. Santa Cruz County, California
> Median home value: $756,600
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,825 — 17th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 67.0% — 320th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 60.1% — 259th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $82,234 — 140th highest of 3,044 counties

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9. Alameda County, California
> Median home value: $769,300
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,931 — 13th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 73.2% — 74th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 53.5% — 95th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $99,406 — 41st highest of 3,044 counties

8. Falls Church city, Virginia
> Median home value: $789,300
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,418 — 5th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 74.8% — 42nd highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 58.3% — 192nd lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $127,610 — 2nd highest of 3,044 counties

7. Teton County, Wyoming
> Median home value: $866,600
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $2,206 — 78th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 50.5% — 1,365th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 60.4% — 269th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $84,678 — 121st highest of 3,044 counties

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6. Santa Clara County, California
> Median home value: $984,000
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,381 — 6th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 70.1% — 166th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 56.4% — 141st lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $124,055 — 4th highest of 3,044 counties

5. New York County, New York
> Median home value: $987,700
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,339 — 7th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 49.2% — 1,247th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 24.1% — 2nd lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $86,553 — 104th highest of 3,044 counties

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4. Marin County, California
> Median home value: $995,800
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,649 — 1st highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 70.9% — 134th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 63.7% — 437th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $115,246 — 14th highest of 3,044 counties

3. Nantucket County, Massachusetts
> Median home value: $1,084,700
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,316 — 8th highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 67.2% — 308th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 70.5% — 1,139th lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $107,717 — 21st highest of 3,044 counties

2. San Mateo County, California
> Median home value: $1,089,400
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,533 — 3rd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 70.6% — 145th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 60.2% — 263rd lowest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Median household income: $122,641 — 5th highest of 3,044 counties

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1. San Francisco County, California
> Median home value: $1,097,800
> Median monthly housing costs with a mortgage: $3,647 — 2nd highest of 3,044 counties
> Share of housing units with a mortgage: 66.0% — 376th highest of 3,044 counties (tied)
> Homeownership rate: 37.6% — 8th lowest of 3,044 counties
> Median household income: $112,449 — 17th highest of 3,044 counties

Methodology

To determine the most expensive counties to buy a home in the nation, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median owner-occupied home values from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

Of the 3,220 counties or county equivalents, 3,142 had boundaries that fell within one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.

Counties were excluded if owner-occupied median home values were not available in the 2019 ACS, if there were fewer than 1,000 housing units, or if the sampling error associated with a county’s data was deemed too high.

The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a county’s owner-occupied median home value was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all counties’ owner-occupied median home values. We similarly excluded counties that had a sampling error too high for their population, using the same definition.

The remaining 3,044 places were ranked based on their owner-occupied median home values. To break ties, we used median monthly housing costs with a mortgage.

Additional information on median monthly housing costs with a mortgage, the share of owner-occupied housing units that have a mortgage, rates of homeownership, and median household income are also five-year estimates from the 2019 ACS.

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