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The Hottest Housing Markets In California In 2021

Housing markets across the United States have been taken on a wild ride ever since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. At first, shutdowns and stay-at-home orders seemed to dampen housing activity. But after several months into the pandemic, housing markets began to bounce back and, many of them, with vengeance.

Pent-up demand for housing is now being unleashed across the country, leading to dwindling numbers of available homes for sale, fewer days homes are on the market, and rising home prices. When it comes to the California housing market, several cities have become especially hot for home buying since last year. To determine which housing markets in California are the hottest, we analyzed data from Redfin, including a number of new listings, number of pending sales, available-for-sale inventory, and median sale price, from May 2020 to May 2021. From these data points, each city was scored and ranked, leading to a top-five list of the hottest housing markets in California in 2021.


Irvine is located in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles. It’s a fast-growing city, with a population that’s reached just under 300,000, up from a little over 213,000 back in 2010. New listings of homes for sale are up about 32% since last year, from 273 new listings in May 2020 to 360 in May 2021. What’s more, pending sales have more than tripled (236.2%) over the same period, going from 105 last May to 353 in May 2021. Not surprisingly, this hot housing market has led to a dramatic decline in available inventory. From 771 homes for sale in May last year, Irvine’s inventory has dropped by just under 50%, reaching 393 homes for sale in May 2021. Since last May, the median sale price in Irvine has risen by more than $100,000, from about $870,000 to $976,000.


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The Bay Area housing market is nearly always engulfed in high demand and high prices. Fremont, however, is hotter than most cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. The median sale price in Fremont is up over $200,000, climbing from $1.025 million in May 2020 to $1.268 million in May 2021. New sales listings have risen by more than 55%, while the number of pending sales has more than doubled (136.4%) from May 2020 to May 2021. At the same time, available inventory has taken a hit, dropping by nearly 40%, from 208 homes for sale last May, down to 125 homes by end of May 2021.


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Located in Ventura County, roughly 60 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles, Oxnard is seeing a lot of activity in its housing market in 2021. Available inventory has gone down sharply since last year, with the number of homes for sale being nearly halved, from 302 homes available in May 2020, down to just 156 homes in May 2021. Over the same period, pending sales have more than doubled in number (109.2%), from only 65 in May 2020 to 136 in May 2021. The median sale price in Oxnard has risen markedly, by 23.1%, from $519,000 in May 2020 to $639,000 in May 2021.

Elk Grove

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Elk Grove is a sizeable suburb of nearly 180,000 people located outside Sacramento. As housing markets reawakened in the wake of the pandemic, Elk Grove’s in particular has taken off. Both the number of new listings and pending sales have increased by nearly 25% from May 2020 to May 2021. At the same time, available inventory has plummeted in response to increased demand: From 195 homes for sale in May 2020, available inventory has fallen by 62.6%, down to just 73 homes for sale in May 2021. Over the same period, the median sale price in Elk Grove rose by an impressive 36.4%, from $440,000 last May to $600,000 as of May 2021.

San Jose

The largest city in Silicon Valley, San Jose housing has been in high demand for a while, arguably going all the way back to the dotcom bubble of the late-1990s and early 2000s. Since last year, however, the San Jose housing market has gotten even hotter. The number of new listings is up more than 50%, from 709 in May 2020 to 1,064 in May 2021. Over the same period, the number of pending sales has exploded, rising by 118.6%, from 510 sales pending last May to 1,115 as of May 2021. Meanwhile, available inventory has declined steeply, by nearly 36%, from May 2020 to May 2021. Over that same one-year period, the median sale price increased by just under 24% — from $1.03 million to $1.275 million.

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