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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

REAL ESTATE–Home Prices Continue to Soar in San Diego

The average price of a previously lived-in home in San Diego County climbed 28.6 percent in February over that month in 1999, the San Diego Association of Realtors said.

The price hit $342,038, up from $265,969 a year ago as the number of new listings coming on the market fell to 4,616 from 5,066 in the same month in 1999, the association reported.

The sales that closed escrow fell to 1,997 from 2,475 for the period. That’s a 19.3 percent drop.

David Rojo, an agent with Nationwide Realty and Home Loans of San Diego, said he sees fewer buyers this year than last year.

“Both prices and interest rates are higher this year,” Rojo said. “There is a big shortage of inventory around the $200,000 price range where most of my sales are right now.”

Rojo, who also arranges loans on the properties he sells, said most of his buyers are planning to buy with either a low down payment FHA loan or a no-down payment VA loan. The sellers are frequently asked to help with closing costs.

“Most VA buyers are asking for the sellers to pay $3,000 to $5,000 of their closing costs,” Rojo said. “However because it’s a seller’s market and homes are selling in some cases for more than the list price, they miss out if they ask for too much.”

Rojo said in contrast to the mid-1990s, buyers are not as demanding about the property’s condition, since they know there is a shortage of inventory and will likely face competition from other buyers when they make an offer, he said.

Connie Burke, sales manager for Century 21 1st Choice Pacific in Pacific Beach, where the combined average sale price for houses and condominiums is about $300,000, said her agents are seeing more buyers than sellers these days.

“Many of the buyers are coming in from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area or Silicon Valley, so there is less sticker shock,” Burke said. “We are seeing conventionally financed offers with huge down payments from people who are coming in with money they made on the stock market.”

She said equal numbers of the buyers are either purchasing for the first time, moving up to a bigger house, or are from out of town. Most of her company’s sellers are moving up or have a big house to sell and plan to move into a condominium. Few are planning to leave San Diego, she said.

“We are seeing a lot of buyers in their 20’s with six-figure incomes,” she said. “It’s these dot-com companies making their shareholders rich.”

The average county condominium sale price reached $190,753 last month, the association said. That’s a 17.8 percent increase from the $161,800 average price paid in February 1999. Condo listings coming on the market last month fell to 1,769 from 1,996 in the same period last year.

Conventional financing is now the most popular, with 69.5 percent of the buyers of both dwelling types choosing it, the association said. FHA financing was selected by 10.7 percent and VA financing by 3.5 percent. About 10 percent paid cash.

The Association of Realtors collects sales statistics by ZIP codes. Houses in several zones shot up more than 50 percent over the 12-month period, the organization reported.

Carlsbad (92008), led the pack with a 72 percent increase from $236,000 to $407,000.

La Jolla (92037), with a 68 percent increase from $564,607 to $951,036, was in second place. San Diego’s Del Cerro neighborhood (92120) was third with a 64 percent increase in average price from $184,300 to $301,750.

Drop in Foreclosure Sales a Healthy Sign

Foreclosure sales have dropped dramatically as the local economy improves, according to the owner of a service that reports on recorded default filings.

“At the depths of the recession in March 1994, there were 1,124 notices of default filed and foreclosure sales totaled 536,” said Phyllis Ingram, owner of San Diego-based County Records Service. “In contrast, there were 573 notices of default filed in February of this year and 189 properties were sold at trustee sales.”

Her firm publishes a daily list of default notices, trustee’s sale notices and the results of those sales for investors seeking a property at auction or lenders looking for loan prospects.

The default notice filed at the county recorder’s office marks the start of foreclosure, which can take as little as three months and 21 days, Ingram said.

After three months, the auction time is set, a notice of sale is recorded and the sale can take place 21 days after that, she said.

“It seems things are pretty healthy here. Some lenders are working out compromises with their debtors before the foreclosure as well,” Ingram said. “The people who stay on our foreclosure list are those who don’t face reality and don’t think they can lose their house.”


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