California coastal towns nab top spots. According to rankings, wealthier buyers drawn to space and ocean privacy.

60 Metro Areas Reviewed within Luxury Segment

The 60 metro areas analyzed among the lux segment within the  the WSJ/ Emerging Housing Markets Index were ranked on data for the top 1% of each market.  The weighted sum of each data point determined which metros had the hottest high-end housing markets in July 2021.

Included within that data were indicators such as the growth in housing supply and demand, median listing prices, unemployment rates, wages, cost of living, number and health of small businesses, amenities, real estate taxes and the share of foreign-born residents.

Coastal California Towns Seeing Buying Surge from Existing California Residents

The Golden State has enormous drawing and staying power as a place to live.  Despite many Californians leaving the state’s urban hubs of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley during the onslaught and the waning of the COVID pandemic, many of those existing and affluent Californians “fled” to the state’s beach spots.

According to the second quarterly release of the July 2021 Wall Street Journal/ Emerging Housing Markets Index, four of California’s beach areas jumped into the top 10 of the Index’s luxury segment.  These California beach areas include:

  • Santa Maria and Santa Barbara (Montecito & Malibu)
  • San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande
  • Salinas (including Monterey area)
  • Oxnard-Thousand Oaks- Ventura

(Remember that these top luxury metro areas are not necessarily vacation-oriented metros such as Billings Montana which took the top spot among non-luxury areas.)

Buyers Looking to Spread Out

Danielle Hale, chief economist with, said, “In general, there’s a trend toward areas with less density.  Buyers are looking for places that are less crowded, where they can spread out and have privacy.”

Changes in Indices from April to July

Provo-Orem UT took the top spot on April’s first Luxury index but dropped to #42 on July’s Index.  Reno NV dropped from  April’s#3 to #7 on July’s Index.

However, Coeur d’Alene retained its #2 spot on both April’s and July’s Index lists.

Additional Lux Metro Markets

Other emerging luxury market areas peeked through on July’s index.  Hilton Head-Bluffton-Beaufort in South Carolina landed at #3.  Cape Cod MA took #6.

Neither Miami nor Palm Beach, usual lux mainstays, did not make the index this year but Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin ranked #4 and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton nabbed #10.

Hale’s last comment noted, “Places where people live and work, like New York City, Philadelphia, Miami and San Francisco, are still at the bottom.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the rest of the year.”

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal/ Emerging Housing Markets Index and MansionGolbal.

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