San Diego Business Journal

Housing prices continue to drop, as do listings for single-family detached units in North County, according to a local association of Realtors.

The median price for all houses in North County decreased again from $535,000 in September to $505,000 in October. In August, the median price for all houses, including single-family detached and attached, was $537,900, according to HomeDex, a North San Diego County Association of Realtors report released Nov. 12.

The median price for a single-family detached house in North County declined 7.9 percent from $630,000 in September to $580,000 in October. The median price for a single-family detached house also fell 4.8 percent from $609,375 in October 2006 to October 2007.

The North San Diego County Association of Realtors reported that the countywide median single-family detached price was $531,000 in October, down 3.5 percent from September and down from $550,000 for the same month last year.

The number of options for home buyers in North County fell to 5,827 single-family listings at the end of October from more than 6,100 in September, and from 5,917 in October 2006. San Diego County saw a similar decrease in listings for single-family detached listings, according to the association.

The county saw a decrease from 12,999 listings at the end of September to 12,637 at the end of October.

The monthly payments were down and affordability was up in October, according to the report. The monthly payment, including principal, interest, property taxes and insurance, for the median-priced, single-family detached house in North County fell to $3,585 in October from $3,950 in September.

Eleven percent of San Diegans could afford this median-priced and conventionally mortgaged house, according to the association. In October 2006, 8 percent of San Diego County households could afford the median-priced, single-family detached house.

The Bonsall, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley, Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach ZIP codes remained the least affordable areas in North County, according to the report. Houses in the Escondido, Oceanside, Ramona, San Marcos and Vista ZIP codes were reportedly the most affordable.

Even with less product available, sales increased. The number of single-family detached units sold increased 3.3 percent to 411 in October compared with 398 a month earlier. However, there was a 35.3 percent year-over-year decline in units sold, according to the association. In October 2006, 635 houses sold.

The median days on the market for North County single-family detached houses increased from 52 days in September to 61 in October.

In the single-family attached market, the median price decreased 4.1 percent to $349,000 in October from $364,000 in September and 11.7 percent from $395,000 in October 2006.

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Barratt American Offering Expedited Construction Timeline, Counseling: Carlsbad-based homebuilder Barratt American Inc. announced in late October that it formed a rebuilding task force to help displaced residents rebuild their homes after last month's damaging and widespread wildfires.

Barratt American President Michael Pattinson said Barratt has the resources and ability to start rebuilding immediately.

"This is a very trying time for all, especially those who suffered devastating losses, and as a hometown builder we intend to be at the forefront of the massive rebuilding effort that will undoubtedly take place in the weeks and months ahead," said Pattinson, in an announcement. "Getting those families who have lost everything back into their homes as soon as possible is one way we can help the healing process."

Barratt is offering 12 architectural packages, an expedited construction timeline to rebuild and counselors to guide homeowners through the process.

More than 1,300 homes were destroyed by the wildfires, according to the San Diego Institute for Policy Research, a private, nonprofit research agency.

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Apartment Rents Rising: The San Diego apartment market is expected to continue to improve through the fourth quarter and into 2008, according to Encino-based Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services' third-quarter Apartment Research Report released Nov. 6.

Asking rents for the third quarter were $1,280 per month, up 4 percent from the third quarter of 2006 at $1,241, according to the report.

Sub-markets with the lowest vacancy rates included Ocean Beach/Point Loma at 0.9 percent. Sub-markets with the highest vacancy rates included La Mesa/Spring Valley with 4.6 percent and Escondido/San Marcos, also with 4.6 percent.

Marcus & Millichap, a real estate brokerage, reported that vacancy is expected to hold firm as individuals are opting for apartments instead of homeownership.

"Investor interest in San Diego's apartment properties has returned to more normalized, historical levels, a trend that will continue into next year," said Kent Williams, regional manager of the San Diego office of Marcus & Millichap.

Developers are expected to deliver 1,000 apartment units to the San Diego market this year, down from 2,200 units in 2006, according to the report.

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Officials Couldn't Afford To Miss These Events: Affordable housing advocates toured San Diego in the past few weeks during two conferences. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials hosted their annual conference in San Diego from Oct. 28 to 30.

More than 2,800 housing and redevelopment professionals attended meetings and round-table sessions, and took tours, including a citywide affordable housing tour hosted by the San Diego Housing Commission. The tour covered a wide variety of affordable housing projects, including housing for seniors and public housing. The commission is a public agency that helps low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities afford housing in San Diego, according to its Web site.

The Centre City Development Corp., the city's planning and redevelopment agency that oversees downtown redevelopment projects, hosted the Great Downtowns: Innovations in Affordable Housing Conference on Nov. 8.

The CCDC's conference featured local and national experts discussing innovations in building affordable housing and work-force housing.

Send real estate news to Michelle Mowad at mmowad@sdbj.com . She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3109.