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San Diego County median home price hits record $672,750

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San Diego County’s median home price reached $672,750 in February, an all-time high that exceeded the previous record by nearly $23,000.

Home prices were up across Southern California in February — typically a slow month for sales — with most areas reaching new peaks, according to CoreLogic data provided by DQNews.

Experts continue to point to record low mortgage rates and severely limited home supply as reasons for the surge.

Prices increased 14.6 percent in a year in San Diego County, the highest increase since January 2014, when the region was rapidly coming out of the Great Recession. It still isn’t as high as the housing boom days of summer 2004, when prices were increasing around 27 percent.

Selma Hepp, CoreLogic deputy chief economist, said low interest rates and lack of home inventory are big factors, but there are also secondary reasons: Some millennials have saved a lot of money during the COVID-19 pandemic and want to buy, and San Diego is an affordable beach market compared with other places in California.

Hepp’s forecast for this year says home prices in the county could increase more than 8 percent — the fastest in the nation — partly because of the strength of the biotech industry and its potential growth following the pandemic. She also noted that San Diego is a popular place for second homes.

There were 3,263 active home listings in San Diego County from Feb. 1 to 28, according to the Redfin Data Center. That is the lowest number reported in records going back to 2017. The number of home listings is now significantly dwarfed by the number of real estate agents in the county. There are roughly 20,000 members of the biggest local organization, the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors.

Mortgage rates stayed low in February. The interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 2.81 percent, according to Freddie Mac, down from 3.47 percent a year earlier. The rate was up slightly from December’s average of 2.68 percent, the lowest in records going back to 1971.

Gary Kent, a La Jolla-based real estate agent, said interest rates make a big difference to buyers who are thinking about monthly payments.

“Things tend to be more payment-driven than price-driven,” he said. “They say, ‘Well, what can I afford? Oh, rates are lower, so I can afford more and offer more.’”

There were 3,231 home sales in February, nearly the same number as listings. It isn’t an exact comparison because some sales that were completed in February began the process in January, and if homes sell very quickly, they don’t always get counted in total numbers. Redfin said the median period on market for a San Diego County home was 11 days in February, compared with 27 at the same time last year.

Almost all home types hit new highs in February. The median price for a resale single-family home was $740,000, exceeding the peak of $730,000 in October. Resale condominiums also hit a new record at $505,000, beating the previous high of $485,000 in September. The newly built median — which includes condos and single-family homes — was $762,000. Its record was $812,500 in October 2018, when there was an increase in luxury single-family homes for sale.

Median home prices were up 14.8 percent in a year across the six-county Southern California region. They were up the most in San Bernardino County, 17.7 percent, for a new record of $412,000.

It was followed by Riverside County, up 16.5 percent for a median of $465,000 (new peak); San Diego County’s 14.6 percent; Los Angeles County, up 14.3 percent for a median of $708,500; Ventura County, up 13 percent for a median of $650,000; Orange County, up 9.6 percent for a median of $820,000 (new peak). ◆