San Diego – Housing Recovery Uneven Across County


North coastal and higher-density parts of San Diego County are going through a quicker housing turnaround than outlying areas that suffered most from foreclosures and overbuilding, a U-T analysis shows.

Limited supply, pent-up demand and near rock-bottom mortgage rates have fueled feverish home-price gains in the past year. Those market factors have lifted more homeowners out of negative equity and pulled more would-be buyers off the fence and into the field.

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Those gains, as meteoric as they may seem, have yet to return countywide values back to their peak, suggesting “we still have a ways to go,” said Michael Lea, real estate professor at San Diego State University.

Countywide, the median home price remains 21 percent below the peak of $517,000 set in late 2005, according to quarterly numbers from real estate tracker DataQuick.

Roughly 38 percent of 70-plus ZIP codes surveyed by the U-T are faring better than the countywide number. (ZIP codes with fewer than 50 sales in the second quarter were not included in the analysis.)

“The ramp-up was too high and the crash too low,” Lea added.

But following the mantra that all real estate is local, the housing recovery has been more vibrant in certain parts of the county.

Beating all others in the recovery race is Carmel Valley, a subdivision-heavy area close to major employers such as Qualcomm and desirable schools. It’s 3 percent below its peak median price of $850,000 in 2006. The biggest laggard is foreclosure-plagued Logan Heights, which is about 50 percent off its peak.

Those findings follow simple logic: Harder falls naturally require harder efforts to pick back up.

“It’s interesting,” said Lea of those findings. “But not surprising.”

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