An Overview of San Mateo County’s Real Estate Market

San Mateo County Real Estate Market Comparison

San Mateo County blends urban sophistication, suburban charm, and rural tranquility, making it a highly sought-after destination for homeowners and investors. It represents diversity and dynamism, not just in its culture and landscapes but also in its real estate market. This overview will discuss the factors affecting the market dynamics, pricing trends, and regional variations of the San Mateo County real estate market. We will also explain why it is an attractive investment opportunity in the Bay Area.

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Introduction to San Mateo County’s Real Estate Market

With a modest population of fewer than 5,000 people and minimal commercial activity in the 1850s, San Mateo County has blossomed into the 15th largest county in the state, stretching from the Silicon Valley in the south to the bustling streets of San Francisco in the north.

It is between the San Francisco Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its diverse real estate landscape mirrors its unique geographical and cultural richness, offering a range of living experiences from serene coastal towns to vibrant urban centers.

San Mateo County’s properties are sought for their prime location, quality of life, and investment potential. A mix of modern luxury condominiums, charming single-family homes, and expansive estates characterizes it.

The proximity to major tech hubs, the county’s natural beauty, and high-ranking school districts make it an attractive location for professionals, families, and investors.

Current State of San Mateo County Housing Market

According to the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, the median price for single-family homes is $2 million as of March 2024, a 6% increase from the previous month. They are selling faster, with the average time dropping from 27 days to 19 days, and there’s been a 30% increase in closed sales.

On the other hand, condos and townhouses are also experiencing growth, with the median price climbing to $1.05 million, a substantial 16% rise since last month. However, these properties are taking slightly longer to sell, with the average time on the market increasing from 38 to 43 days, even as the number of closed sales reached 86.

A City-by-City Guide To San Mateo County Real Estate Market

San Mateo County’s dynamic real estate market offers diverse housing options that cater to various preferences and lifestyles. This guide takes you through some of the county’s prominent cities, highlighting their unique characteristics and types of housing.

Urban Centers

  • Burlingame is along San Francisco Bay and is known for its high quality of life, excellent schools, and vibrant downtown area. The city boasts charming Victorian homes, spacious Craftsman-style houses, and modern condos and apartments near downtown. Burlingame Avenue and Broadway Avenue are the main shopping and dining hubs, making it a lively spot for residents and visitors alike.
  • Daly City, often called the “Gateway to the Peninsula,” offers a more affordable entry point into the San Mateo County real estate market. The city’s housing stock includes a variety of single-family homes, townhouses, and apartment complexes. Its proximity to San Francisco makes it a popular choice for commuters looking to balance work in the city with a more suburban lifestyle.
  • Quaint post-war single-family dwellings to newer condominiums and townhouses characterize San Bruno‘s real estate market. The city is home to San Bruno City Park, which offers outdoor recreation opportunities, and the Shops at Tanforan, which provide various shopping and dining options. Its convenient location near the San Francisco International Airport and major highways is perfect for frequent travelers.
  • San Mateo stands out for its blend of historic charm and modern conveniences. The city offers many housing types, including historic homes in the Central Park area, sprawling estates in the San Mateo Park neighborhood, and contemporary condos and apartments downtown. Its vibrant core, with its shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, adds to its appeal.
  • Known as the “Industrial City,” South San Francisco is a thriving biotech hub. The city offers a mix of older, mid-century homes and newer residential developments, catering to professionals working in the biotech industry. Despite its industrial roots, it boasts several parks and recreational areas, providing a balanced urban-suburban feel.

Tranquil Retreats

  • Belmont is a peaceful community with wooded areas and residential neighborhoods. It prides itself on its high quality of life, with plenty of parks and open spaces encouraging outdoor activities. Its central location is near San Francisco and San Jose, making it ideal for those who seek a quieter lifestyle but still want the convenience of city living. Its highly-rated schools and strong community spirit make it desirable for families.
  • Hillsborough is synonymous with luxury and exclusivity. Known for its large estates and mansions in lush, expansive lots, this town offers unparalleled privacy and tranquility. With strict zoning laws that preserve its residential nature, it has managed to maintain its charm and quiet ambiance. It is also known for its excellent public schools, making it a top choice for families looking for a serene setting without compromising educational opportunities.
  • Millbrae is west of the San Francisco International Airport offering suburban peace and urban convenience. This city is famous for its panoramic views of the Bay Area and its diverse community. The vibrant downtown area, with various shops and restaurants, is a testament to its lively community spirit. It also boasts several parks and recreational areas, providing ample opportunities for outdoor enjoyment.
  • With its charming downtown area, friendly community, and scenic views, San Carlos offers its residents a high quality of life. The city’s well-balanced mix of residential, commercial, and industrial areas ensures that residents have everything they need within proximity. It is also known for its excellent schools and is home to the Hiller Aviation Museum, highlighting the city’s innovative spirit.

Coastal Communities

  • El Granada is a small, scenic town characterized by rolling hills, lush landscapes, and stunning ocean views. Originally designed as a seaside resort, it boasts a unique radial street pattern that enhances its charm. This area on the northern coast of San Mateo County features quaint beach cottages and more expansive homes on the hillsides, offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Its proximity to Pillar Point Harbor provides ample boating, fishing, and seafood dining opportunities.
  • Half Moon Bay is the most well-known coastal town in San Mateo County, famous for its pumpkin festival, breathtaking beaches, and the world-renowned big-wave surf spot, Mavericks. The historic Main Street features a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, encapsulating its rich heritage and community spirit. Residential options range from vintage homes to newer developments and rural estates. It offers a tranquil retreat for those looking to escape the city, with readily available outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
  • Pacifica is a town south of San Francisco known for its dramatic coastal cliffs, miles of sandy beaches, and the iconic Pacifica Pier. Housing varies widely, from cozy beachfront cottages to contemporary homes in the hills, offering spectacular ocean or mountain views. Its diverse communities, including Linda Mar and Rockaway Beach, have unique vibes and attractions.

Key Factors Influencing San Mateo County’s Real Estate Market

Here are some essential factors influencing the San Mateo County real estate market.

1. Economic Growth and Employment Opportunities: San Mateo County’s proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco made it a hub for technology and innovation, attracting a skilled workforce. High-income employment opportunities in the tech, biotech, and finance sectors contribute to strong demand for housing, affecting both prices and availability.

2. Housing Supply: San Mateo County faces challenges related to limited housing supply, partly due to geographical constraints and stringent zoning regulations. The imbalance between supply and demand has historically led to higher property prices and a competitive market environment.

3. Transportation and Infrastructure: The county’s well-developed transportation network, including Caltrain and BART, and proximity to major highways and airports enhance its attractiveness. Easy access to San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and other parts of the Bay Area is a significant factor for many residents, influencing where they choose to live within the county.

4. Quality of Life and Amenities: The region offers a high quality of life with its diverse communities, excellent schools, recreational parks, and cultural amenities. Its scenic beauty, including coastline and hillsides, adds to the appeal and value of San Mateo County real estate.

5. Interest Rates and Economic Policies: The broader economic environment, including interest rates set by the Federal Reserve, impacts the affordability of mortgages. Lower interest rates can boost San Mateo County’s real estate market by making borrowing cheaper, whereas higher rates may cool the market.

6. Demographic Trends: Shifts in demographics, such as an aging population or the preferences of millennials and Gen Z for urban living, can influence housing trends in San Mateo County. The demand for different housing types, such as single-family homes versus condos or apartments, can shift accordingly.

7. Environmental Concerns and Sustainability: Awareness and regulations surrounding environmental protection and sustainability can impact the growth of San Mateo County’s real estate market. Properties incorporating green technologies or located in areas with lower risks from natural hazards like earthquakes and floods may be more desirable.

8. The Impact of Technology and Remote Work: The rise of remote work has changed how people view their living and working spaces. There is an increasing demand for homes that can accommodate dedicated offices, leading to a shift in housing preferences within the county.

Final Thoughts

The real estate market of San Mateo County reflects the region’s cultural diversity and richness. It offers a range of options, from bustling urban centers to serene coastal towns and tranquil retreats, catering to different preferences and lifestyles. The market’s resilience is driven by its prime location, quality of life, and investment potential, highlighting it as a premier destination in the Bay Area.

Learn more about the diverse and promising opportunities offered by the San Mateo County real estate market at