San Diego – Housing Price Gain Slows Down

For the first time in nearly two years, annual home-price appreciation in San Diego County is down to the single digits.

Last month, the median price for a home sold in the county was $435,000, up 8.7 percent from the $400,000 median in April 2013, real estate tracker DataQuick reported Tuesday. It was the lowest year-over-year appreciation since a 7.9 percent gain in August 2012. But the latest housing figures show just how much price appreciation has slowed. In June, price gains reached 24.1 percent.

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“Double-digit price appreciation is not sustainable,” said Mark Goldman, a loan officer and real-estate lecturer at San Diego State University. “But now we’re back on track, we’re back to a more ordinary level of pricing. Pricing has approached an equilibrium where it ought to be based on income, interest rates, employment, all the stuff that drives the housing market.” Goldman says price gains of about 3 percent should be the norm.

While price appreciation continued to slow, home sales picked up drastically from March to April, the prime buying season. Last month, 3,664 properties in the county changed hands, a jump of 607 homes from March. That’s the biggest sales increase from a March to an April since the Great Recession.

Most of the sales in April were in downtown, Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Valley and Eastlake, which each sold about 95 homes.

“The housing market’s pulse quickened a bit in April. If the inventory grows more, which we consider likely, it’s going to make it a lot easier for sales to reach at least an average level, which we haven’t seen in more than seven years,” said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage in a statement. “There are certainly factors undermining housing demand, including affordability constraints, credit challenges and less investment activity. But there are considerable forces fueling demand, too: Employment is rising, families are growing, and more people can qualify to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure or a short sale over the past eight years.”

Despite the monthly bump, activity in the county’s housing market has slowed since last year, with the number of transactions in April down 3.4 percent from April 2013.

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