The San Diego County median home price was $529,000 in January, down by $11,000 since December, said real estate tracker CoreLogic on Tuesday.
The big picture: In a year, the median price increased 6.9 percent. San Diego County's median home price hit an all-time high in June of $545,000. While January's median is not far from the record, it might take a while to return to that level.
How prices could change: Rising interest rates and other factors could slow the pace of home price increases in the coming year, some experts say.
"The price is already pretty high and now you put higher interests rates on top of that," said Alan Gin, economist at University of San Diego. "That's going put home purchases out of reach for some people."
The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.52 percent Tuesday, up from around 4 percent at the end of last year, said Mortgage News Daily.
Mark Goldman, a real estate lecturer at San Diego State University, said he expected median price increases to slow as the market comes down from last year's highs.
"The market is slowing down, in general," Goldman said. "Prices are topping out and I don't see a reversal. (Prices last year) were increasing at a very aggressive rate."
What the market was doing: The median for a newly built home was $646,000 in January with 249 sales. Resale homes dominated the market, making up 1,588 sales. The median price was $565,000, its lowest since March. Meanwhile, the median condo price was $410,000, its highest since January with 785 sales.
Listed homes for sale showed a decline from January 2017, said the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. There were 4,241 homes for sale in January, down from 4,463 at the same time last year, 5,012 in 2016 and 6,129 in 2015.
The average number of days on market in January was 29, the Realtor association said. The quickest homes to sell were those priced from $250,001 to $500,000, selling on average in 24 days.
Standouts from the data: Absentee buyers, typically investors who don't intend on living in the home as a primary residence, made up 23.3 percent of sales in January, up from 21.2 percent at the same time last year.
Of ZIP codes that sold at least 20 homes, Rancho Bernardo (92127) had the biggest resale home price increase in a year, 26.5 percent, for a median of $1.2 million.
Across Southern California, prices increased year over year. The median home price for the six-county region is up 11.4 percent in a year to $507,000.
Other indicator of a seller's market: A closely watched real estate index, also released Tuesday, showed San Diego home price increases remained among one of the highest in the nation in December.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices goes beyond just the median home price, tracking repeat sales of identical single-family houses as they turn over through the years. Prices are adjusted for seasonal swings.
The region's home prices rose 7.4 percent in a year, sixth highest in the nation, said the indices.
How the rest of the nation compared: Of the 20 regions covered in the index, the biggest increases were in Seattle at 12.7 percent, followed by Las Vegas at 11.1 percent.
Chicago had the slowest increase at 2.6 percent followed by Washington, D.C., at 2.8 percent.
Why inflation is a factor: The Case-Shiller report said the average price increase since the housing crash has been 62 percent, while inflation was up 12.4 percent.
Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia, said prices outpacing inflation can be good for homeowners that don't want to leave, but America's largest generation might struggle to get in the market. She said millennials are buying homes at lower rate than previous generations when they were the same age.
"Wages and inflation increases are really just a fraction of that home price increase," Young said. "If wages and things like that can't keep up with the escalating home prices, that means fewer and fewer and people can become homeowners."
* * *
S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices for December 2017
Yearly increases by city
Seattle — 12.7 percent
Las Vegas — 11.1 percent
San Francisco — 9.2 percent
Los Angeles — 7.5 percent
Denver — 7.4 percent
San Diego — 7.4 percent
Detroit — 7.1 percent
Dallas — 6.9 percent
Portland — 6.8 percent
Tampa — 6.2 percent
Charlotte — 5.9 percent
Phoenix — 5.6 percent
Boston — 5.5 percent
Atlanta — 5.4 percent
New York — 5.4 percent
Minneapolis — 5.2 percent
Miami — 3.6 percent
Cleveland — 3.5 percent
Washington, D.C. — 2.8 percent
Chicago — 2.6 percent