Most expensive ZIP codes in the U.S.Since late-2011, home values have climbed in many U.S. markets.

The government’s Home Price index puts the increase at +3.7% an annual basis and the National Association of REALTORS® shows home sale prices up 11% since last year.

The price at which a home sells is determined by the economic force of supply-and-demand but location and amenities matter, too; establishing a baseline from which supply-and-demand can work. 

Using data compiled by real estate market data firm Altos Research, Forbes Magazine recently presented America’s 10 most expensive ZIP codes for 2012. California and the New York Metro area dominate the list.

  1. New York, NY (10065) : $6,534,430
  2. Alpine, NJ (07620) : $5,745,038
  3. Atherton, CA (94027) : $4,897,864
  4. Sagaponack, NY (11962) : $4,180,385
  5. Hillsborough, CA (94010) : $4,127,250
  6. New York, NY (10014) : $4,116,506
  7. Los Altos Hills, CA (94022) : $4,016,050
  8. New York, NY (10021) : $3,980,829
  9. Rolling Hills, CA (90274) : $3,972,500
  10. New York, NY (10075) : $3,885,409

As an illustration of how home prices have climbed since Forbes publishes last year’s Most Expensive ZIP code list, this year’s #10 — Upper East Side, New York City, New York — would have ranked third in 2011.

The Forbes list may be interesting but, to home buyers or sellers in Midlothian , it’s far from the final word in home values. Real estate remains a local market which means that — even within a given ZIP code — prices can vary based on street and neighborhood, and home characteristics.

Look past the general data and get to the specifics. Talk to your real estate agent for local market pricing.

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Great places to raise a familyLooking for a great place to raise a family? Forbes Magazine has a list that may help you.

Titled “The Best Cities For Raising A Family“, Forbes has compiled and analyzed data from America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, accounting for seven lifestyle factors including cost of living, commuting ease, school quality, crime density, and home affordability.

Given these selection criteria, it’s no surprise that Grand Rapids, Michigan took top honors. The area’s low median income is offset by an extremely low cost of living and a school system that’s among the best in the nation. Nearly 90% of the homes in Grand Rapids are affordable families earning the median income — the seventh-highest affordability ranking in the country — and commutes are quick.

Since the housing peak, home prices are down just 12% in Grand Rapids — a figure below the national average.

The complete Top 10 list for the Forbes “The Best Cities For Raising A Family” piece were:

  1. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Provo, Utah
  4. Youngstown, Ohio
  5. Raleigh, North Carolina
  6. Poughkeepsie, New York
  7. Omaha, Nebraska
  8. Ogden, Utah
  9. Cincinnati, Ohio
  10. Worcester, Massachusetts

Now, before you make a home-buying decision based on the Forbes report, remember that real estate is a local market and even city-wide statistics can be too broad to be helpful to everyday home buyers in Richmond. Even within Grand Rapids, there are some neighborhoods that outperform in terms of home valuations and school quality, for example; and some areas from which a daily work commute may be more cumbersome. 

For accurate, real-time housing data for any of the above markets , be sure to ask a real estate professional.

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Most Expensive ZIP CodesIn the housing market, amenities and location have as much to do with a home’s value as the everyday forces of supply-and-demand. Whereas the latter causes home values to rise and fall over time, the former creates a starting point for said values. 

Where you live — and the features of your home — determine your home’s price range. Naturally, homes in some areas are consistently higher-valued than homes in others.

Using data compiled by real estate market data firm Altos Research, Forbes Magazine presents America’s 10 most expensive ZIP codes. California and the New York Metro area dominate the list.

  1. Alpine, NJ (07620) : $4,550,000
  2. Atherton, CA (94027) : $4,295,000
  3. Sagaponack, NY (11962) : $3.595,000
  4. Hillsborough, CA (94010) : $3,499,000
  5. Beverly Hills, CA (90210) : $3,469,891
  6. New York, NY (10012) : $3,392,574
  7. New York, NY (10013) : $3,317,962
  8. Water Mill, NY (11976) : $3,300,000
  9. Montecito, CA (93108) : $3,099,348
  10. Old Westbury, NY (11568) : $3,095,000

In fact, of the top 50 most expensive ZIP codes, only 6 are located outside of California and New York regions. 3 are Colorado resort towns — Snowmass (81654), Aspen (81611) and Telluride (81435) — one is in Maryland, one is in Florida, and the last is in Washington State.

Chicago-suburb Kenilworth (60043) is the top-ranked Midwest ZIP code. It placed 86th overall.

The Forbes list may be interesting but, to home buyers or sellers in Henrico , it should not be the final word in home values. Real estate is a local market which means that — even within a given ZIP code — prices can vary based on street and neighborhood.

Look past general data and get specific. Talk to your real estate agent for local market pricing.

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