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San Diego County median home price drops slightly to $645,000 in December

Home and keys

San Diego County capped a year of substantial home price increases — up 12.2 percent annually — with a slight decrease in December.

The median price was $645,000, down by $5,000 from the previous few months, according to CoreLogic data provided by DQNews. A drop in prices in December and January is typical, although any decrease in prices is notable in a year that saw San Diego prices go up among the fastest in the nation.

Prices have not increased since September, but analysts say that’s nothing to write home about: Demand is still very high in San Diego, with limited supply. A January CoreLogic forecast said area home prices would increase the most in the nation this year, by 8.3 percent.

Agents and analysts say a few things are driving demand: record-low mortgage rates, a desire by stay-at-home workers to have a better home, and Californians priced out of other areas — especially San Francisco and Los Angeles — moving to San Diego for a better deal.

In December, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.68 percent, according to Freddie Mac, down from 3.72 percent a year earlier. That was the lowest in records going back to 1971.

Alan Gin, an economist at the University of San Diego, said the price increases reflect an uneven COVID-19 economy that has strongly favored people who were doing better than others before the pandemic. He said many already affluent San Diegans have been able to do their jobs from home and benefited from large gains in the stock market.

“People at the upper end have been able to maintain, if not increase, their economic standing,” he said. “As a result of that, they can afford to buy these houses and push prices up.”

Gin forecast a better economy for everyone later this year once COVID-19 vaccinations have substantially increased, likely benefiting all segments of the population. However, wealthier San Diegans will likely get more wealthy and continue to put upward pressure on home prices, he said.

There were 4,174 home sales in December, up 27 percent from the same time in 2019. That happened at the same time there were record-low levels of homes for sale.

The Redfin Data Center said there were only about 3,690 homes listed from Nov. 30 to Dec. 27. That’s compared with 5,741 around the same time in 2019, 8,065 in 2018 and 5,724 in 2017. It isn’t a complete apples-to-apples comparison because some sales that took place in November did not complete escrow until December. But it reflects how few properties there are when there were more recorded sales than active listings.

Here is how the different home types fared:

  • Single-family resale: A median of $715,500, down from a record-high $730,000 in October. There were 2,581 sales.
  • Resale condominiums: A median of $480,000, down from the record-high $485,000 in September. There were 1,259 sales.
  • Newly built: A median of $676,250, with 334 sales. The newly built numbers include condos and single-family homes.

Across the six-county Southern California region, median home prices were up 10.1 percent for the year. Ventura County had the biggest increase — 14.2 percent — for a median of $650,000.

It was followed by San Bernardino County, up 12.7 percent to a median of $400,000; San Diego County’s 12.2 percent increase; Los Angeles County, up 11.4 percent for a median of $700,000; Riverside County, up 11.2 percent for a median of $442,500; and Orange County, up 8.2 percent for a median of $795,000.


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