How to Figure the Los Angeles County Median Home Price (2023)

Figuring the Los Angeles Country median home price size is like trying to calculate the median coin weight when all we have is data about stack size

How to Figure the Los Angeles County Median Home Price (2023)

The Los Angeles County median home price in 2022 and 2023 can be tricky to determine. There are different sources that say different things. It’s not clear which of the many options will be relied upon by courts and trustees for the California homestead exemption.  Also, while bankruptcy may seem to be “just forms,” make sure you check out my list of 12 crucial tips to do or avoid before filing bankruptcy.

2022-2023 update: there seems to be a consensus among local bankruptcy attorneys as to what the Los Angeles County median home price is. More than that, this L.A. median price changes each year. While it’s still untested in court, a lot of the initial uncertainty has cleared up.  Read on!

Warning: This is provided as information only, and is not legal advice. If you are thinking of filing bankruptcy, do not rely upon any information on this webpage. You are assuming all risk and are literally gambling with your home. You will have only yourself to blame if you use the wrong numbers for the Los Angeles County median home value.

See a bankruptcy attorney for more updated information before you file, because there are ways you can lose the exemption.

Average is not Median

los angeles county median home value
The Los Angeles County median home value is not the mean

Before we can determine what the Los Angeles County median home price is, we’ll need to know what it’s not. A median is not the same as the average. This takes us back to high school math, but a quick couple of definitions:

  • Average (or mean): this is where you add up the data, and then divide by the number of data points
  • Median: this is where you list all the data, and then take the number which is at the midpoint

So, as you can see, the median is not the same as the L.A. County average home value.

The Median Changes Over Time

Because the median is the midpoint of all the data, each time there’s another home sale, the median changes and moves. You may figure with a random distribution of data, there would be an equal likelihood that future sales will be about half above and half below the median, keeping the median the same. But home prices change over time and are not static, and particularly during a virus pandemic like the COVID-19 coronavirus we had in 2020 and 2021.

For example, you might find some data sources that list the median home prices for last year, but only through December.   Can you assume that houses would sell for the same prices in December around the holidays as they do during the summer when people move a lot and kids are usually out of school?

Read Our Means Test Guide on Median Income Limits.

 

 

The Los Angeles County median home price is not the same as that for the L.A. area

Los Angeles County is one of the largest counties in the United States, with over 4,000 square miles. While you may find data for the metropolitan area, that’s very different than the numbers for Los Angeles County. Why? Because L.A County goes from South Bay all the way up to the Antelope Valley and Lancaster. The Los Angeles County median home price is pulling together data from all these.

Los Angeles County is home to about 10,000,000 people, while the city of L.A. has “only” 4,000,000. If you use only city data, you’re missing out on home values in remote areas in LA County like Littlerock and Pearblossom on the 138 and on the way to Vegas.

The Median Home Value is not the same as Median Home Sales Price

You can find some sites which average the values of the homes in the L.A. area, or even Los Angeles County. The problem with that is this: you’re using their own estimate about the Los Angeles county median home values, even those that didn’t sell, when what you’re really needing is the sales price of homes that actually sold.

After reviewing all the above, you can see that we’re looking for a very specific thing here, and no one website reports the Los Angeles County median home price, or has information that in 2022 is depended upon reliably as the “go to” source for Los Angeles County median home value information. Over time, maybe one place will emerge, but for now there’s just a few “almost there” entries.

Some Data Sources Which are Close

which data source can provide the los angeles county median home price
Which of the various data sources is the right one?

With all that being said, you can understand the challenge of finding the Los Angeles County median home price.  Most websites are using averages, some have only the L.A. area, and none of them let you have access to the data of all the home sales so you can calculate the median yourself.

 

Zillow: this company is famous for using its proprietary “Zestimate” to approximate home values. For example, if you go here, you can find what Zillow calls “the typical home value of homes in Los Angeles.”

But that number isn’t clear…. What does “typical” mean – average or median? Remember, they’re different.  Home value or home price? There’s no indication this is relying on sales data. And for what time period? Now, at this snapshot in time, last month, this year, or last year?

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The website doesn’t say what the Los Angeles County median home price is. It also doesn’t say if it includes single-family homes, is only single-family homes, or something else.

Realtor: This website features real estate, but if you dig down deep enough, you can find market data, research, and trends. It provides data by month, not year, and appears to be providing listing prices, not sales prices.

Redfin: Redfin is another national real estate website, which tracks listings and sales, and helps connect home buyers to realtors. It has market data and trends, but seems to be restricted to only Los Angeles city, not all of Los Angeles county median home price info.

CAR: The California Association of Realtors also has some market data. But it cautions that the data which it is using comes from over 90 associations and counts “single family detached homes only” and “median price changes may exhibit unusual fluctuation.”

Trulia: Similarly, Trulia is a real estate website that tracks home sales and house prices. It has a way to filter for L.A. and show market information at the bottom of the page, but doesn’t show Los Angeles county median home price or value info.  It appears to list home values the way Zillow does, but it doesn’t appear to be relying on sales data.

News reports: You may find news reports from Los Angeles-based newspapers that report data on home sales prices.

how to calculate the inflation-adjusted county median home price
When calculating the inflation-adjusted county median home price, the median coin isn’t the median stack.

Note: you may find some websites that provide spreadsheets of Los Angeles County median home price data, and lists medians by month. Taking the median of the medians isn’t the same as the median of all the sales data. It’s just creating garbage data. To find the true Los Angeles County median, you’d have to have access to all the sales data. This is something very few people have.

And that’s the problem:  no one person has the data, and different places which are close report different numbers for the Los Angeles county median home value.

While some of these are close, none of these seem to provide “the” number. Not one can be relied upon, especially for something which involves risking your home.

Summing up the initial Los Angeles County median home price

Is there one bottom line source? Not yet, not until it’s litigated, and honestly, a lot of us in 2021 are trying to sift through all this information to make sense of it. Maybe in the months ahead, one choice will crystalize as the one we all rely upon.

This will likely be after litigation and people guess wrong. Sadly, they will lose their homes in some cases because they guessed wrong on home value.  Currently, there is not one number that we can reliably “bet the house” is the median home price in Los Angeles County.

2022-2023 update: with all that said, it is generally agreed upon that the 2021 and initial Los Angeles County median home price is $600,000, adjusted for inflation.

But wait, there’s more!

California homestead exemption, county median price adjusted for inflation

Recall that the California homestead exemption is the county median price adjusted for inflation. So, each year, each county’s exemption amount is different. Section (b) of the new California homestead says:

The amounts specified in this section shall adjust annually for inflation, beginning on January 1, 2022, based on the change in the annual California Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the prior fiscal year, published by the Department of Industrial Relations.

We don’t know exactly where the county median number comes from, (though the Central District of Calif court seems to endorse CAR but that may or may not be valid evidence in a trustee challenge). Further, the inflation percentage is a different number whose source is similarly mysterious.

Here is how the inflation adjustment of section (b) would work.

The California fiscal year ends in June. Therefore, we take the difference between the old June CPI number and compare it to the most recent new June CPI number. What is that percentage?

CPI and inflation-adjusted California homestead exemption
CPI and inflation-adjusted figures to use in calculating the California homestead exemption, chart from ca.gov showing increases from June 2020 to June 2022

For 2022, the difference between the June 2022 number (297.447) and the June 2021 number (284.835) represents a 4.43% increase. Therefore, for counties capped by statute at the $600,000 maximum, the maximum 2022 median home price and homestead exemption would be $626,566.96.  This number will change again in 2023, and “will adjust annually, beginning on January 1, 2022.”

I made a calculator so you can figure out this year’s California homestead exemption amount for any county in California (assuming you have the median sale price number), adjusted for inflation. Better yet, we can calculate next year’s inflation-adjusted homestead exemption if we have June’s CPI numbers already. So bookmark this page and return every few months or so.

 

Remember, these Calif CPI figures — and the resulting percentage increase — also impact the inflation-adjusted homestead exemption in counties where the minimum was $300,000, or counties in between that and the max, like Riverside and San Bernardino County.

Be cautious, use this information at your own risk, as you’re literally gambling with your (or your client’s) house. Thanks for reading.

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