California Property Trends: A Short Guide to Purchasing Real Estate in California

Owning a property in California is a long-standing dream for many Americans. The promise of year-round sun, fantastic beaches and some of the world’s most cosmopolitan and culturally interesting cities is a massive lure for those looking to invest in a vacation property or a good place to while away their retirement. The prices of property across the state are diverse; one should expect to pay top dollar for a property anywhere in the vicinity of the cultural hubs of Los Angeles or San Francisco. At the other end of the scale, some real bargains can be found in less fashionable counties. Essentially, your choice will ultimately depend on your budget and circumstances, but here are a few things to consider regarding property trends in California nonetheless.

1. Strong Housing Market

The housing market in California is robust, and house prices have risen consistently since 2012. A large part of the reason for this trend is that the population is growing at a faster rate than the construction of new homes in California’s major cities. Wages in California are also some of the highest in the country and public services and schools are excellent, both of which are factors that make the state a desirable place to live. Due to a constant influx of new workers and a persistent problem of housing supply, house prices in California are likely to continue their upward curve in the next few years, making property across the state a relatively safe investment for the future.

2. Coronavirus

Making any move in the housing market at this moment in time is subject to the added complications surrounding the economic uncertainty brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody can be exactly sure about how the housing market is going to react, but it is definitely worth keeping your ear to the ground about which way things might be heading in California if you are looking into the prospect of buying there. If your property investment does not depend on you selling your existing property first, it may be financially prudent to hold off for a few months to see if you can pick up a good deal in the event of a slight drop-off in prices.

3. Great Deals in Central California

Much of the property in the trendy coastal Californian cities is out of reach of most people’s budgets. The internationally famous Hollywood Hills and the show business industry attached to it has driven property prices in Los Angeles sky-high over the years. In San Francisco, the Silicon Valley tech boom has rapidly gentrified San Francisco, forcing many of the city’s working-class inhabitants to leave the city. If you are prepared to move to inland cities such as Sacramento or Fresno, average house prices drop significantly. Still within reach of California’s fantastic beaches, these cities are also within a reasonable distance of some of California’s most amazing national parks, making them a great choice for those that like to spend time in the great outdoors.

4. No Restrictions of Foreign Property Buyers

The great news for non-US citizens is that you do not need citizenship or a green card to buy property in California. All you will need to do to qualify is apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), for which you will only require a valid foreign passport and two passport size photos. For Europeans looking for their own little slice of California, it is now possible to stay in the US for up to three months while you shop around for your dream property through the ESTA visa exemption scheme. You can check out an official ESTA guide here, but make sure to stay in touch with government travel advice ( on possible travel disruptions before you set off on your trip.

House prices in the most desirable parts of California can be prohibitively high. If you end up giving up on your California dream for now and going for somewhere further afield, why not think about investing in some property in Europe? Countries like Italy and France offer a real alternative for Americans looking to invest in some old-world charm. As well as providing the perfect getaway location for a few weeks or a long weekend, property prices in Europe are comparable to those in California, and there are plenty of options for houses and apartments to suit all budgets. House-hunting in Europe is set to become simpler in January 2021 with the introduction of the ETIAS visa exemption scheme, so the door is now well and truly open for those with a dream of property ownership in Europe.