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San Diego Homes 1979: Affordable Housing Series Part 2

This week's News 8 Throwback takes you back to 1979 to explore some affordable homes that were on the market in San Diego.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — From million-dollar mansions to affordable homes in San Diego County, News 8 explored the housing market in 1979. Forty-two years later, million-dollar homes are plentiful and affordable homes seem like a thing of the past. According to this report, San Diego was the most expensive place to buy a home in the continental United States. This in-depth five-part series from Janet Zappala attempted to help San Diegans looking for the elusive affordable home and achieve the dream of home ownership.

San Diego Homes 1979: Affordable Homes Series

Part 1

A Mira Mesa home was on the market for $73,000. It was nine years old and highly upgraded. The agent she spoke with said the home price had more than doubled since built and most of the appreciation occurred in the last three to three and a half years. People were selling smaller homes and moving into bigger homes, taking advantage of the equity earned during the boom years.

Part 2

In those years, 1975-1977, housing values appreciated in Southern California at the rate of 3% each month. The average cost of a San Diego home was $98,000. The handy tool to find a home was the multiple listings book. A condominium was suggested as an affordable option. A five-year-old, upgraded two bedroom one was available in Mira Mesa for 70,000. Janet pointed out the amenities included a swimming pool and a rec room. 

Part 3

A young married Clairemont couple were reaping the benefits from owning vs. renting. They owned the $68,000 home for four months and its value had increased by $4,000. Real estate analyst Sanford Goodkin said it was the best time to buy because construction costs were going up 15-20% a year and the timing was excellent to buy a joy (a house).

Part 4

Buyer Alan Irwin chose the option of buying an older fixer-upper two for one in Hillcrest. In April of 1979 he purchased it for $86,000. He was hoping the extra income from the rental would be a good investment. You were right Mr. Irwin -- it was. Through the years many old homes in Hillcrest were rehabbed and values increased substantially.

Part 5

There were bargains to be had in affluent La Jolla. Janet toured a one bedroom, one bath co-op on La Jolla Blvd. It was a block to the beach, and it was selling for $69,000. She summed up her five-part series: certainly not what most of us would consider cheap but way below the average price of a home in San Diego. 

In January 1979 the high cost of homes was a serious issue. Housing sales had dropped off in the county to the lowest point in three years. Janine Tartaglia interviewed a housing expert who said “we think people are not buying because they can’t afford the average product on the market. The disparity between the median income and the median-priced home is much too large and it’s growing.” The average cost -- $85,000. New mortgage options were just introduced to help buyers who couldn’t afford traditional loans. But the expert Janet spoke to was skeptical that it would work.

Golden Hill Homes Tour 1979

Original script from August 19, 1979

Several hundred people turned up for a tour of mansions in Golden Hill today. It's all part of America's Finest City week. Bruce Herm of Walkabout International led the two-hour tour through Golden Hill. He says the historical walk is like a visit to San Diego's golden past and pointed out that many of the old homes just need a little care and attention to become the elegant mansions they once were. Many of them have already been bought and restored.

And all these years later these diamonds in the rough as Herm called them really are gems. Thank you, Louise Torio, of www.VillaMontezumaMuseum.org for providing “now” photos of these extraordinary homes. Louise owns two of these beauties. 

RELATED: News 8 Throwback: San Diego housing prices & open lots for sale in the late 1970s

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