How Much House Does $500K Buy You in California?

by Christy Bieber | Published on Aug. 22, 2021

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San Francisco apartments overlooking the hills and the Bay on a sunny day.

Image source: Getty Images

You may be surprised to see what $500,000 can buy in the Golden State.

California real estate is notoriously expensive, and in today's red-hot housing market, prices are skyrocketing and homes are selling quickly. Prospective homeowners need to set their budgets carefully to avoid mortgage payments that are too high -- and it's important to do this before you start looking for a house and fall in love with one you can't afford.

It can be helpful to get a realistic idea of what your budget is likely to get you if you're looking for a California home. Of course, this can vary depending on the part of the state you're planning to settle in.

With that in mind, here's what $500,000 can buy in several popular areas in California.

1. A remodeled condo in a gated Los Angeles community

For $511,000, you can purchase a two-bedroom, two-bath condo spanning 944 square feet. The condo is a top-floor unit that has been completely remodeled. It includes an attractive kitchen with a tiled backsplash, hardwood floors, and a small fireplace.

The condo unit also offers access to a shared swimming pool, and the community itself is gated for added security. There's even a private garden as well as two private garage spaces for the new owners.

2. A studio in San Francisco

San Francisco has some of the country's most expensive real estate, so it's not surprising that $500,000 will only buy you a studio apartment in most parts of the city.

The cost of the studio actually came in at $550,000 despite the fact that it's just 544 square feet. It does, however, have an amazing view of the San Francisco skyline from a shared roof deck, and it is in a convenient location along Market Street where the owner can walk to restaurants, stores, and local theaters.

There's designated bike parking at this facility, and the homeowner will have access to a rooftop area with a barbecue as well as fire pits. And within the unit, new appliances and double-glazed, insulated windows make the space look modern and attractive.

3. A ground-floor condo in San Diego

For $519,000, you can buy a ground-floor San Diego condo with private parking in a separate underground space. The 1,033-square-foot space features two bedrooms and two bathrooms and has a split bedroom floor plan.

The condo was constructed in 1975, and it's clear the interior space will need a lot of updating by the new owner. This will likely include kitchen and bathroom remodeling, as well as new flooring throughout most of the property.

Owners will enjoy lovely community amenities, though, including:

  • A library
  • Billiards room
  • Movie room
  • Expansive decks overlooking a small lagoon

The homeowners association (HOA) dues to access these amenities come at a price of $456 per month.

4. An attractive single-family home in Fresno

Your home-buying budget can stretch further in Fresno. For $501,000, you can purchase a 2,029-square-foot single-family home that features four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The property was built in 2008 and sits on a 6,840 square foot lot.

Inside, the home's open floor plan features a relatively modern kitchen and tile throughout most of the common spaces. There's also a fireplace and built-in cabinets. Minimal updating would likely be required, although the new homeowner may wish to replace some older carpeting in the bedrooms.

As you can see, even within the state of California, location plays a big role in what you get for your money. Make sure you're going into your home purchase with realistic expectations and a mortgage payment that you'll be comfortable making over the long-haul.

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