Patti Phillips
Prudential California Realty
6119 La Granada
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Direct toll free: 800-680-9133
Cell: 619-507-2100 Office: 858-481-2020

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Real Estate Market in San Diego?

Everyone always asks, “What’s going on in the market? Has it reached the bottom? Is it a good time to buy or invest? Below is a synopsis of some recent articles discussing the San Diego market. 2007 has been a tumultuous year in real estate almost everywhere in the United States and San Diego was no different, although maybe a little better than some areas.

· Economic indicators remain good. Interest rates are at very low levels, local Employment levels are strong, inflation is under control and the gross domestic product is growing. The current unemployment rate in San Diego county is about 4.8%. Some experts predict a net gain of about 5,000 jobs over the next year.

· The loan debacle needs to be put into perspective. While the subprime loan situation is a tragedy for some only about 10% of homes are financed with subprime loans. Many subprime loans will never be foreclosed so most of those borrowers have had a chance to own a home they would not have owned otherwise. The foreclosure rate on prime loans is usually about 0.6% to give some perspective. Real estate is a long term ownership proposition, so hopefully those subprime homeowners that survive will have a chance to build some equity over time and to take advantage of some of the concessions that have been made by their lenders.

· Local construction is way down and we are running out of buildable land in San Diego which bodes well eventually for existing properties. Once builders finish discounting their existing inventories the pressure that puts on other resale homes will diminish.

· Housing prices in many areas are still above their levels of 3-4 years ago. Several “experts” predict prices will be level to down 4-5% in 2008, so buying a home now on the market for 95% of the listing price gives the downside protection most people desire and could get them into their new home at or near the bottom of the market.

· Foreclosure activity in San Diego has been most concentrated in the south bay areas of Chula Vista and National City, east county and the Route 78 corridor because this is where most of the subprime borrowing took place. When a foreclosure hits the market in these areas it often devalues the entire neighborhood, especially if these foreclosed homes have been left in poor condition by the departing owner. This reduces the "flipping" opportunities for those kinds of buyers. Most of the coastal locales have fared better. As close as I can calculate I think about 5% of our current for sale inventory is foreclosures, although about 25% of the sales closing escrow are foreclosures, meaning it is tougher for non-foreclosure listings to sell unless they price accordingly. Some estimates conclude that about 25% of the foreclosures are investor owned properties, many of which the investor probably hoped to flip for a quick profit. Often for legal reasons the lenders are not taking deeply discounted offers and almost all bank-owned property is sold “as-is”, which sometimes eliminates many buyers who are not in a position to inject significant amounts of capital to bring the home back into prime condition, especially after tenants or angry owners have done their last minute damage. As of 12/31/07, approximately 358 of the 6,019 (6%) active condo listings in San Diego County were identified as bank owned, foreclosure or distress sales and about 602 of the 12,132 (5%) active detached home listings were similarly identified. This is far better than the 25%-50% we hear about in many other parts of the country.

· Tourism, San Diegos dominant industry, remains strong with large numbers of visitors spending time and money here every year. Many of my clients either visited here and wanted to eventually live in San Diego or lived here and moved away for some reason and then moved back.

· Our level of new incoming leads from potential buyers is at high levels and has been for several months with a high percentage opting to start automatic listing alerts, indicating a higher level of interest. This tells me that we could be bottoming out as more and more people are studying the market in preparation for a possible purchase. In fact, last month was the second most productive month of 2007 in terms of the number of incoming buyer inquiries.

2008 should be an interesting year in Real Estate! One always needs to remember, there will always be someone who needs to buy or sell, no matter what the market is! People get married, have more children, have health issues, job changes, scale down..... on and on.

I caution you that in this market, when listing, you really need to make certain that you are working with a top agent who is willing to spend the time, effort and money in seeing that your home get sold!

Meanwhile, I wish you a Happy 2008!

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