California’s Coastal Cities Lead The Top Emerging US Luxury Property Market

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Ocean Beauty and Privacy Seem To Attract More HNWI and UHNWI buyers than ever

California’s coastline is seeing renewed interest from HNWI and UHNWI buyers who continue to move away from the urban centres of Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

According to the second Emerging Housing Markets Index released Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal and, four Golden State cities made it into the top 10 luxury real estate markets.

The California cities of Santa Maria-Santa Barbara took the top spot. San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande continue the ranking, followed by Oxnard, Thousand Oaks and Ventura. Salinas, whose metropolitan area includes the wealthy Monterey region, ranks eighth in the index.

These areas, all north of Los Angeles, offer affluent families greater space, a more balanced life closer to nature, and the ability to continue working and studying at home while remaining in California.

“In general, the trend is toward less dense areas,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for “Buyers are looking for less crowded places, where they can spread out and have privacy.”

The index, based on June housing data, uses multiple indicators to assess the state of emerging housing markets. These indicators include growth in housing supply and demand, median house price, unemployment, wages, cost of living measures, small businesses, amenities and the proportion of foreign-born residents, which contribute to the vitality and diversity of the region. In its second edition, local property taxes have also been taken into account.

Top Emerging US Luxury Real Estate Market

Emerging Housing Markets Index. Source: Wall Street Journal/

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The 60 metropolitan areas reviewed within the luxury segment of the Emerging Housing Markets Index are ranked based on housing data for the top 1% of each market and the weighted sum of those metrics to determine which have the most active high-end markets.

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