San Diego County median home price keeps breaking records. Its new high: $650,000

A home for sale

A lack of homes for sale in the COVID-19 pandemic is seen as a major factor in rising prices.


San Diego County continued its pandemic home price climb in September, with the median price reaching a record high of $650,000.

The median has increased 10.2 percent since COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began in March, according to CoreLogic data provided by DQNews. It marks some of the quickest acceleration of prices since the region came out of the Great Recession in 2013 and 2014. September’s number breaks the previous record of $640,000 in August.

Home prices have gone up nationwide for similar reasons that analysts continue to point to: a lack of homes for sale leading to price wars, extra importance put on ownership for workers stuck doing jobs from home, and record-low interest rates.

Selma Hepp, CoreLogic deputy chief economist, said a lack of properties for potential homebuyers to chose from is prevalent across Southern California.

“With inventories 50 percent below last year’s levels, heightened demand is putting a strong pressure on home prices,” she said.

From Sept. 7 to Oct. 4, 5,191 homes were listed for sale in San Diego County, according to the Redfin Data Center. That was down from 7,949 around the same time in 2019 and 9,341 in 2018.

Hepp said demand might slow in coming months during the traditionally slower holiday buying season.

Taking into account the COVID price acceleration, prices have now increased 14 percent in a year. The last time prices went up that fast in a year was February 2014 as the region quickly came out of the recession.

One difference from back then is historically low interest rates. In September, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.89 percent, according to Freddie Mac, down from 3.61 percent a year earlier.

Despite the obvious benefit of lower rates, not all real estate agents say it is the first thing on buyers’ minds. Bonnie Phelps, an agent based in Palomar Mountain, said a lot of buyers working from home are seeking a more isolated place to live away from the city.

“The first thing they ask about is internet access,” she said.

There were 4,317 home sales in September, reflecting a steady climb from April, when a combination of low inventory and buyers staying away during the early days of the pandemic led to just 2,499 sales.

The price for a resale single-family home was unchanged from last month at $715,000. The resale condominium median reached $485,000, a new record. The median for newly built homes — including condos, townhouses and single-family homes — was $728,000, down from the record $812,500 in October 2018, when there was an increase in luxury single-family homes for sale.

An example of what $650,000 can buy in Pacific Beach is 4130 Haines St., Unit 5B, an 870-square-foot condo with two bedrooms and 1½ baths that was built in 1973.

    Across the six-county Southern California region, the biggest home price gainer by percentage was Los Angeles County, which increased 14.5 percent to a median of $710,000.

    Riverside County was up 14 percent for a median of $447,000; Ventura County was up 12.9 percent to a median of $665,000; San Bernardino County was up 12.8 percent for a median of $397,000; and Orange County was up 8.6 percent to a median of $785,000.