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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 Chicago , 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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