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Home prices fall in So Cal for the first time since 2012

The Southern California median home price dipped slightly in March from a year earlier, the first annual decrease since 2012 and a sign of a remarkable downshift from the once-sizzling regional housing market.

The 0.1% drop, reported Friday by CoreLogic, means prices for the six-county region were essentially flat year-over-year. But given a pullback in previous months, prices are $18,500 off their June 2018 peak, and that raises the possibility of a sustained decline in the months ahead.


The median price for new and resale houses and condos — the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less — was $518,500 in March, $500 less than a year earlier and off the all-time high of $537,000 reached in June.


The dip from March 2018 doesn’t mean values declined across the board. In fact, when broken down by county, the median dropped only in Orange County, while remaining areas — including Los Angeles County — still posted a slight or modest increase compared with a year earlier.

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San Diego home sellers are slashing prices

San Diego County had the second-most home price reductions in the nation so far in 2019, said research from real estate website Trulia.

Price reductions are more common in the winter months, but San Diego County hasn’t seen as many cutbacks since 2014 when the market was still crawling out of the recession.

Twenty percent of homes for sale in February had a price drop, the most of any California city. At the same time last year, the percentage was 10 percent.

Felipe Chacon, economist at Trulia, said the reductions in San Diego show a shift toward better conditions for buyers but it’s not like prices are suddenly affordable for the majority of the region’s inhabitants. The median home price was $542,000 in December, said CoreLogic, up 2.5 percent in a year.

A few examples of price reductions:

  • 3675 8th Ave. — This 2,660-square-foot craftsman home in Hillcrest went on the market for $1.1 million in September 2018, but had its price reduced 15 times. It is now on the market for $905,000.
  • 4169 Balboa Way — This 1,408-square-foot condo in Clairemont went on the market for $525,000 on Feb.6 but had been reduced to $491,111 by March 11.
  • 5370 La Jolla Blvd, Unit 203 — This 1,353-square-foot condo in La Jolla, two blocks away from ocean access at Calumet Park, was listed at $799,000 in November, but has had its priced reduced four times. It is now for sale for $719,000
  • 210 Treasure Drive — This newly built 2,801-square-foot San Marcos home, with four bedrooms, started out at $829,900 but is now $799,900.
  • 333 Orange Ave., Unit 9 — This 1,087-square-foot Coronado condo started at $725,000 in September, was raised to $775,000 in December, and then reduced several times back down to $725,000.
  • 2165 Anthony Drive — This 916-square-foot single-family home near Shelltown went on the market in August for $389,000. The 90-year-old house was taken on and off the market before selling for $330,000 last week.

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House tax bill contains gifts for homeowners – will it pass by end of year?

December is mega-tax-bill time on Capitol Hill, when legislation loaded with gifts and goodies for special-interest constituents moves ahead for action before the end of the year. House Republicans have unveiled their 2018 version — nearly 300 pages worth — and it has goodies galore: Write-offs and tax-credit deals for racehorse owners, “motor sports entertainment complexes,” TV and film producers, mine-rescue team trainers, two-wheeled electric vehicles, Indian coal facilities, economic development in American Samoa and a bunch of others. And yes, homeowners and builders are on the gift list as well:

• Did you pay mortgage-insurance premiums this year on a conventional home loan, a Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed mortgage or a Veterans (VA) loan? Congratulations! You’re a potential beneficiary if the bill passes.

• Did you install energy-conserving improvements in your house this year, such as high-performance windows, doors, roofing or skylights? Did you buy an energy-efficient furnace, hot-water heater or air conditioner? The new tax bill has a little something for you. Ditto if you built an energy-efficient new house.

• Were you underwater on your mortgage, forced to do a short sale, foreclosed upon or negotiated a loan workout agreement this year in which the lender forgave the balance owed? Good news. You’re covered by the bill — the IRS will not tax the forgiven balance of your debt as ordinary income if the bill passes and this tax-code provision is extended.

• Were you a victim of one the country’s recent natural disasters, such as hurricanes Florence or Michael, the Camp and Woolsey wildfires or the Kilauea volcanic eruption? The bill offers tax relief to assist your recovery.

The bill clearly has valuable provisions for certain groups of homeowners. But it also has fundamental problems. Start with the basics: Can it pass? One of the risks of sponsoring tax proposals late in a congressional session — House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, only introduced it Nov. 26 — is that they can get squished in the last-minute crush of higher-profile legislation, such as this year’s federal-budget resolution. If issues like funding a southern border wall are not solved, there could be a government shutdown. Passing a tax bill in the middle of this brewing partisan storm is a serious challenge.

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