If you cannot do a comparable where you can find the sales history of the same house over a period of time, then price per square foot is usually your best indicator of value. It usually gives you a good range for what you can afford in certain areas especially if the zip code has at least nine sales for the month.
As I have stated many times on this blog, The median price numbers usually stated in the mainstream media can be useless when comparing numbers month to month. A small sample of sales or type of sales can completely skew the numbers. However, they are fine when looking at data over a six to twelve month period.
You do have to be careful when comparing price per square foot. Smaller houses normally go for a higher square footage value than larger homes in the same area unless it is a tear down or new construction.
Here is a look at the September Dataquick SFR sales report for the Westside and Manhattan and Hermosa. Please note that some of the more affluent zip codes were in the high $900 price per square foot range in 2005-2006:
Beverly Hills 90210 18 sales $584/sqft
LA/Bel-Air 90077 11 sales $480/sqft
LA/Brentwood 90049 24 sales $634/sqft
LA/Mar Vista 90066 18 sales $493/sqft
LA/Westwood 90024 12 sales $622/sqft
Pacific Palisades 90272 17 sales $622/sqft
Venice 90291 12 sales $753/sqft
Malibu 90265 13 sales $583/sqft
Santa Monica 90402 9 sales $760/sqf
Santa Monica 90405 12 sales $648/sqft
LA/Westchester 90045 20 sales $451/sqft
Hermosa Beach 90254 8 sales $692/sqft
Manhattan Beach 90266 27 sales $625/sqft
Sources: Dataquick, Westside Bubble