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San Diego median home price ends year in record territory

San Diego median home price ends year in record territory
Homes along Alameda Drive in Oceanside in mid-January. (Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The San Diego County median home price finished the year at one of its highest points.

  • The county median home price increased 9.1 percent in a year.
  • December’s median price of $540,000 was the second-highest of the year, tied with November
  • Nearly 500 new homes sold in December, the most in one month all year.

San Diego County home price. Here's the full story

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The San Diego County median home price was $540,000 in December, tied for second-highest of the year, capping off a year of record price gains, said real estate tracker CoreLogic on Wednesday.

In 12 months, the median price increased 9.1 percent, outpacing the 4.2 percent yearly increase in 2016.

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San Diego County's median home price hit an all-time high in June of $545,000. Its lowest point of the year was $492,500 in February.

December is typically a slower month for the housing market, but real estate agents and market watchers said high demand, and a limited number of homes for sale based on historic averages, pushed prices up.

Also, a strong economy with high consumer confidence is also a factor, said Alan Gin, economist at University of San Diego's Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

"The economy is solid. Unemployment is low," he said. "People hear that housing prices are going up and they want to jump in before it gets out of hand even more."

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New home sales propelled December's price rise. There were 484 newly built homes sold in December, above the monthly average of 251 sales throughout 2017.

The median for a newly built home was $606,250, down from a high of $792,250 in June. Most new home projects are in eastern parts of the county, such as Talus at Weston in Santee, which is selling homes from $719,895 to $743,895, said NewHomeSource.

The price increases did not mean there were more homes selling. In December, 3,390 homes sold, 58 less than the same time last year.

Listed homes for sale continued to decline in December, following a yearly trend, said the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. There were 4,088 homes for sale in December, down from 5,241 at the same time in 2016; 5,851 in 2015; and 6,773 in 2014.

In its December report, the association said fewer numbers of homes for sale meant eager buyers were willing to spend more than the listing price.

"People have strong confidence in the market. They feel like they need to be aggressive with their offers," said Joe Marcotte, CEO of the The Condo Showroom in downtown San Diego. "All of our clients want to be aggressive because there are multiple offers at that median price point."

The average number of days on market in December was 29, the Realtor association said. The quickest homes to sell, 24 days on average, were homes that sold between $250,001 to $500,000.

Besides newly built homes, other home categories had price increases:

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  • Resale homes, the most analyzed segment of the market because of volume of sales, had a median of $585,000, an increase of 8.3 percent in a year. There were 1,973 sales, the third lowest of any month in 2017. The most was 2,801 in June.
  • The median price for a resale condo was $409,500, up 12.2 percent in a year, the most of any housing category. The median price was $409,500, down from a high of $411,750 in June.

Absentee buyers, typically investors who don't intend on living in the home as a primary residence, made up 21.3 percent of sales in December, the exact same percent as last December. In early 2013, more than 30 percent of sales went to absentee buyers.

Of ZIP codes that sold at least 20 homes, Carlsbad (92011) had the biggest resale home price increase in a year at 38 percent. It was followed by La Mesa (91942) at 27 percent and North Park at 25 percent.

For resale condos, La Jolla had the biggest annual median price increase of 51 percent. It was followed by Hillcrest at 47 percent and Rancho Bernardo (92127) at 31 percent.

San Diego County's price growth follows what is happening in the surrounding region. Southern California's six-county market hit an all-time high median of $507,500, CoreLogic said.

The biggest increase was in Los Angeles County with a 9.6 percent annual jump for a median of $570,000.

It was followed by San Diego with the 9.1 percent increase; San Bernardino County with an 8 percent increase for a median of $323,000; Ventura County with a 7.7 percent increase for a median of $559,000; Riverside County with a 5.8 percent increase for a median of $365,000; and Orange County with a 4.6 percent increase for a median of $698,000.

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