I'm a Realtor in CA.... Ironically, I just moved up to the Seattle area myself. House up here are much more solid than down there, for sure. That part of CA has totally different construction standards.
I'm currently in a 3000 sqft home that is framed with a minimum of 2x6's, and it costs me a little over half what I paid for a 1200sqft home in San Mateo, and I have well over twice the space, and a MUCH better view. Yes, if your a buyer, that place is tough.
Anyway, if you're still looking, check out Humboldt Square in San Mateo. It's right on the corner of 3rd Ave and Humboldt (S. Humboldt?). Anyway, they are townhomes. I sold one of those about a year ago. It was an end unit, about 1400 sqft; 3 stories; 2 car garage at the bottom; living room with diningroom, kitchen and sitting room on the half and 2nd floor; two master suites upstairs.
Despite being on busy streets, these units were VERY quiet inside. In my opinion, construction was very good; firewalls between units, good insultation, etc. I stop paying attaention when I came up here, but prices are likely rising slowly there, but a place might be had for around $650k or so. Oh, they do have an HOA, and a pretty small and well managed one, as I remember. If think the fees for that unit where somewhere around $350/mo, if I remember right.
Anyway, that's one possibility. If none are on the market, just ask the residents if they want to sell. All they can say is "No."
The wild west wasn't that long ago. The depression was even more recent. The building boom following World War II addressed a specific demand for low cost housing. Local houses have been built to match the needs of the typical home buyer when the house was built. Needs and desires have changed quickly and dramatically over time.
Local homes are expensive because acquiring the land to build it on is expensive. The competition for space is intense. Locally more land has been created by filling in the SF Bay. There are still efforts to turn mud flats into building sites but there is opposition and little success. The only things likely to make the land less expensive are either massive economic or climate changes.
San Mateo home values can be viewed at
Recent San Mateo home sales can be viewed at
Good luck Serena with your new home where ever it is.
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty, the nations largest
Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County
Brandon Denman - Realtor
Pacific Coast Real Estate
BRE # 01379663