by Kim Swartz in Blog.
San Diego home prices in March hit their highest level in nearly nine years, real estate firm CoreLogic reported Monday.
The median home price rose to $478,000 last month, passing the median in August 2007 of $475,000 before the recession fully took hold.
However, the number of home sales, 3,547, only increased 2 percent since this time last year. CoreLogic attributed low sales to waning affordability and a lack of homes for sale.
“We’re not seeing as great of an increase (in sales), simply because we don’t have the inventory,” said Raylene Brundage, president of the North San Diego County Association of Realtors.
Brundage, an agent with Coldwell Banker, said she recently represented a buyer of a five-bedroom, two-story home in Escondido in the $600,000 range that had four offers in three days.
The demand for homes, mixed with low inventory, has made for a sellers’ market.
San Diego County home prices increased 5.1 percent year-over-year, CoreLogic said. From February to March, home prices also increased 5.1 percent.
Newly built home prices jumped by 28.1 percent, much more than the rest of the market, in March. The median price of the 248 new homes sold was $634,000.
Home prices have yet to reach their November 2005 peak of $517,000 in San Diego County, CoreLogic data shows.
Still, low mortgage rates are helping some new buyers. In March, the rate for a 30-year-fixed rate mortgage was 3.74 percent and 3.19 percent for a 15-year fixed rate, said HSH.com. Since then, those rates have continued to drop.
Matthew Shaver, a San Diego senior mortgage consultant with Finance of America, said low interest rates — combined with the increased debt-to-income thresholds by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration — are making it rare for buyers to be rejected for a home loan.
“Interest rates are low enough that it’s offsetting the higher home prices,” he said.
Shaver said a $400,000 home is still affordable with current interest rates for someone making $60,000 a year.
Cash sales made up 20.1 percent of sales in March, down nearly 5 percent from March 2015. Twenty-one percent of March sales went to absentee buyers, investors who do not plan on living in the home themselves, up 0.6 percent from this time last year.
Among the six Southern California counties, Orange County is closest to reaching its peak of $645,000 in June 2007. Its median home price was $625,000 in March.
Oceanside had 187 home sales in March, the most in the county. It was followed by Fallbrook with 90, Carmel Valley with 90 and 80 in Rancho Bernardo.
Over the last 12 months, the median sale price in Riverside County rose the most in Southern California at 8.2 percent to $305,000, CoreLogic said. It was followed by Ventura at 7.6 percent; Orange at 6.8 percent; Los Angeles at 5.9 percent; San Diego at 5.1 percent; and San Bernardino at 4.6 percent.