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San Diego home prices dip in February

There were 2,605 home sales in February, down 405 homes from its average since 2000.

The San Diego County median home price dropped 1 percent in February to $492,000, CoreLogic said.

Typically one of the slowest months of the year, the February median price has increased on average just 1.4 percent from January since 2000.

San Diego’s median hit $507,500 in October but has been under half a million dollars since. It is still below the nominal 2005 peak of $517,500 (or $644,487 in 2016 dollars).

There were 2,605 home sales in February, down 405 homes from its average since 2000.

However, over the 12-month period the county’s median home price increased 8.1 percent, CoreLogic said.

Chris Thornberg, economist and founding partner of Beacon Economics, said a sales drop in February was not a big enough indication that the more robust spring or summer buying season would not occur as usual.

However, he said three factors may impact buying as the year goes on — higher mortgage interest rates, economic uncertainty with Trump administration policies and a possible slowdown of American home purchases by foreigners.

“Any of those could be a realistic reason for slowing activity,” he said, “and any of these reasons could say to us this summer won’t be as good as last summer from a sales and price perspective.”

The February resale home median price in San Diego County was $535,000, with 1,657 sales, and the resale condo price was $383,750, with 778 sales. In a year, the home price increased 6.2 percent and 9.6 percent for condos.

The newly built home price in February, $565,000, was at one of the lowest points in the last two years, likely the result of few single-family homes being built. There were just 170 newly built homes sold in February — roughly half of what was sold in the summer.

Cash buyers made up 20.9 percent of sales in February, down 2 percent from the same time last year. The peak was 37 percent in February 2013

Absentee buyers, usually investors who don’t intend to live in their purchases, bought 23.9 of homes in February — down roughly 1 percent from the same time last year. In early 2013, more than 30 percent of sales went to absentee buyers.

San Diego County’s drop in February prices was not an isolated event, with home sales down across Southern California.

“Activity continues to be constrained by the decline in affordability and the relatively thin inventory of homes for sale,” said Andrew LePage, research analyst with CoreLogic, in his report.

He noted San Bernardino County, which has the region’s lowest median sale price and is a good fit for first-time buyers priced out of coastal markets, was the only area that saw a year-over-year increase in sales.

Another factor in February’s sales could have been one fewer business day to record sales, LePage said.

Southern California’s median home price was up 7 percent year-over-year across the region.

The biggest increase was in Riverside County, up 10 percent to a median price of $346,000.

It was followed by San Diego County with an 8.1 percent increase; Los Angeles County with a 7.9 percent increase for a median of $525,000; San Bernardino County with a 7.3 percent increase for a median of $295,000; Orange County with a 5.7 percent increase for a median of $645,000; and Ventura County with a 4.2 percent increase for a median of $520,100.

phillip.molnar@sduniontribune.com (619) 293-1891 Twitter: @phillipmolnar

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