San Diego County median home price hits another record: $640,000

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Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern California homes continue to sell near record highs.


San Diego County’s median home price hit another all-time high, $640,000, in August as Southern California prices surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county has seen prices rise more than 8 percent since the pandemic took hold in March, mirroring jumps across the nation. Analysts attribute the rise to record-low interest rates motivating buyers, a lack of homes on the market and the increased value of homeownership as many are having to work from home.

All six Southern California counties hit new price peaks in August, according to CoreLogic data provided by DQNews. San Diego County had the smallest monthly gain, 0.9 percent, of all the counties. The price was up from the previous peak of $634,000 in July.

Mark Goldman, a real estate analyst with C2 Financial Corp., said potential home sellers who are not listing homes — out of fear of spreading the virus in their home or concern about the market — have meant intense competition and rising prices for a limited number of properties.

“It’s just punishing for buyers to find something they can get into escrow,” he said. “It is a very strong seller’s market.”

The San Diego County median home price has risen 9.4 percent in a year. But monthly payments could still seem favorable to some buyers because of low interest rates. The rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in August was 2.94 percent, according to Freddie Mac, down from 3.62 percent at the same time last year.

“If you can lock in a fixed 30-year loan for under 3 percent right now, you probably would stay in that loan for quite some time to come,” Goldman said. “It’s unlikely rates will go down to refinance.”

There were 4,122 home sales in August, around the same as the previous month. In April, only 2,499 sales were made.

Selma Hepp, CoreLogic deputy chief economist, said the sales in August reflect pent-up demand from a lost spring buying season. She said sales would still be restricted with fewer homes on the market.

“Continually lacking for-sale inventory,” she wrote, “which has been trending at around 50 percent below last year’s level in So Cal, has constrained any additional boost to home sales activity that may be seen in other parts of the state.”

The resale single-family home median reached an all-time high of $715,000 in August, as did the resale condominium price of $475,000. The newly built median price, which includes condos and single-family, was $689,000 — down from the record $812,500 in October 2018 when there was an increase in luxury single-family homes for sale.

Evan Morris, a real estate agent based in Golden Hill, said anything from $500,000 to $700,000 is extremely competitive. He sees many buyers motivated by the low rates and having to work at home for months.

“They are actually putting more value in the stay-at-home working situation,” he said. “They want to invest to make that more of a long-term situation.”

Across the six-county Southern California region, home prices rose 12.1 percent annually in August. The biggest gainer by percentage was Riverside County, which increased 13.1 percent to a median of $441,000.

It was followed by Los Angeles County, up 12.2 percent to $692,750; Orange County, up 11.6 percent to $800,000; San Bernardino County, up 9.8 percent to $380,000; San Diego County, up 9.4 percent to $640,000; and Ventura County, up 8.1 percent to $647,250. ◆