Residential market sees moderate decrease in sales, prices

Entering into what is traditionally a slower home selling season, the median price for an existing single-family home in San Diego County slightly decreased in September, while overall sales continue to decline.

This means the real estate market is returning to normalcy, according to Lee Sterling, a member of the board of directors for the North San Diego County Association of Realtors (NSDCAR) and owner of Help U Sell Realty West in Carlsbad.

“The major correction has taken place,” said Daniel Maloney, broker and owner of Daniel Team Realty, adding the media’s suggestion that the housing market is collapsing is faulty because overall prices have recently begun to stabilize rather than decline quickly on a monthly basis.

According to the NSDCAR’s Homedex, the median priced single-family detached (SFD) home in the county was $571,000 in September, a 0.75 percent decrease from August and 3.06 percent decrease from September 2005. The price decrease means 10 percent of county households can afford the median-priced SFD home.

In the single-family attached (SFA) market the median priced home was $360,000 in September, a 0.8 percent decrease from $362,750 in August and a year-over-year decrease of 5.3 percent. This price reduction means 26 percent of county households can afford the median-priced SFA home.

“What is encouraging is the prices really haven’t gone down a lot (recently),” Sterling said, noting that in September some regions in the county experienced median price increases.

In the South County median SFD prices rose 1.22 percent from $575,000 to $582,000, and in the San Diego Metro region median SFD prices increased 2.38 percent from $546,000 to $559,000.

The attached market also saw median price increases in North San Diego County, which reported a 1.9 percent jump in SFA median home prices from $387,500 to $395,000, and San Diego Metro, which reported a 0.8 percent increase from $370,000 to $373,000.

While attached and detached homes are experiencing modest increases and decreases, the amount of SFD homes sold countywide declined by 16.2 percent from 1,571 in August to 1,316 in September. Similarly, the amount of SFA homes sales fell from 870 in August to 665 in September, a 23.6 percent decline.

North County reported 613 sold SFD units, a 20.3 percent tumble from August, and 218 sold SFA units, a 25.3 percent drop.

East County reported 214 sold SFD listings, down 11.9 percent, and 71 sold SFA listings, a 22 percent drop.

South San Diego County reported 151 SFD home sales, down 12.2 percent, and 55 SFA home sales, a 21.4 percent dive.

San Diego Metro reported 338 SFD sold listings, a 12.7 percent decrease, and 321 SFA listings sold, down 23 percent from August 2006.

Despite the decrease in sold listings, Sterling — who teaches an ethics class for new realtors through the NSDCAR — said he continues to see 80 or 90 new licensees signed up for his class monthly.

“But I think there’s always natural attrition” regarding new licensees leaving the market, Sterling interjected.

“What I’m hearing is quite a few agents that got into the market and didn’t put a (marketing) system in place are probably leaving the market,” Maloney said.

For established realtors who will not leave the market, Sterling and Maloney agreed the keys to surviving a slow sales period are a proactive marketing approach and reconnection with past clients.

Although sales are slowing, Sterling said the median time on the market for a home is about 63 days, which he believes is great compared to market times in other states.

According to Homedex, the median days on the market for SFD listings are: North County, 58 days; East County, 58 days; San Diego Metro, 49 days; and South County, 63 days. Looking at SFA listings, the median days on the market include: North County, 60 days; East County, 54 days; San Diego Metro, 47 days; and South County, 80 days.

Also encouraging to Sterling is the inventory of attached and detached homes in the county, which has decreased by 3 percent.

At the end of September there were 12,733 active SFD listings compared to 13,153 in August. This includes 6,281 units in North County, 2,823 in San Diego Metro, 2,126 in East County, and 1,503 in South County.

In the attached market there were 7,658 active listings on the market at the end of September compared to 8,084 in August. Accounting for the 7,658 listing were 3,730 units in San Diego Metro, 2,466 in North County, 728 in East County and 734 in South County.

Looking forward, Maloney and Sterling are confident about the state of the housing market.

“We have a San Diego housing shortage and a great diversified economy,” Maloney cited as his reason for optimism. He is hoping for a market in the coming years that will not be heavily weighted toward either the buyer or seller.

“It’s likely we’ll continue to see a slight slowdown in the market in the number of sales, and we believe sellers will be adjusting their prices to effect that,” Sterling said, assuring there will not be a dramatic drop in prices similar to that of the early 1990s.

When you begin your search, it’s always good to know the amount of your borrowing power. By doing so, you won’t waste precious time looking at homes that are over or below your price range. Keller Williams San Diego can get you started in the buying process by helping you determine your buying power, your financial reserves and your borrowing capacity. Keller Williams San Diego can refer you to lenders that are best qualified to meet your financial needs.

If necessary, they will preview the homes in advance to determine if they meet your criteria. This way your valuable time will not be wasted looking at houses, which are not right for you.

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