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San Diego home prices soar with some areas more affordable than others

The median price for a single-family home across San Diego County was $842,000 in 2021, with condos and townhomes at $545,000.

SAN DIEGO — The 2021 housing market was one for the history books with the median sales price for homes in San Diego County at $740,000 over the past year, according to the San Diego Association of Realtors, which was a 17.3% increase from the year before. The median price for a single-family home across the county was $842,000, with condos and townhomes at $545,000, both seeing increases over 17%.

“The demand for housing is just so strong that all segments of the housing market are affected, whether they’re condos, townhomes, or single-family homes,” said Dr. Alan Gin, economics professor at the University of San Diego.

Dr. Gin said that while many people have struggled during the pandemic, others have been able to save a good amount of money.

“During the shutdown, they didn’t have a place to spend money,” said Dr. Gin. “Restaurants were closed so people didn’t eat out as much and people didn’t travel, and so people put money away and paid down debt with what economists are calling a ‘COVID piggy bank.’  And so the combination of this extra savings, continued income through remote work, and low-interest rates has made the housing market really strong.”

With home sales booming across the San Diego region, where are we seeing the most demand?

“The most expensive prices, as you would expect, is along the coast,” said Dr. Gin. “And in the northern part of the county where a lot of the tech industry is located, demand is strong there.”

As you might expect, La Jolla was one of the more expensive places for single-family homes with the median sales price at $2,950,000 over the past year, which was a 28% increase from the year before.  And Del Mar wasn’t far behind at over $2.6 million.  

Moving north, the southwest area of Carlsbad saw a median sales price of over $1.5 million for single-family homes, which was an increase of nearly 30%.  And the most expensive area was Rancho Santa Fe with homes at over $3.6 million, which was a 33% year-to-year increase.

“Rancho Santa Fe has historically been a high-priced area,” said Dr. Gin.  “They’ve got big houses there, big plots of land.”

And so why are we seeing such high demand?

“What we’re looking at is a lack of inventory that we’ve had for many, many years,” said Carla Farley, immediate past president of the San Diego Association of Realtors. “You get the interest rates kind of fluctuating around a little bit, and you see this influx of buyers that are coming in.”

Ms. Farley said if you’re looking for more affordability, condos and townhomes might be a good fit and there are certain places you should look.

“If you go south of Interstate 8, you get more affordability,” said Farley.  “If you go east, you get more affordability.”

For condos and townhomes in the South Bay, Imperial Beach had a median sales price of $600,000 over the last year, which was an 8% increase from the year before. National City was a little less expensive at $416,000, and San Ysidro at $335,000 with both areas seeing increases over 20% from the year before.

Further east, some of the least expensive areas for condos and townhomes are northwest El Cajon, which had a median sale price at $356,000 during 2021; Lakeside was at $358,000, and Lemon Grove was at $365,000 for the past year. 

If you’re looking to enter the housing market for the first time, Ms. Farley has this advice to share.

“The best thing you can do is really educate yourself on what this market is doing, why it’s happening, and understand what your limitations are,” said Farley.  “What are your limitations and what’s reasonable for you?”

For more information on home sale prices across the county, visit the website for the San Diego Association of Realtors by clicking here and navigate to the local statistics page.

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