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Up only 5.17% annually

Last month's median resale price in north San Diego County declines from November

Single-family home prices in North San Diego County declined slightly in December 2005 from November, but were still about $30,000 higher than in December 2004.

A North County Association of Realtors HomeDex (housing affordability) report, conducted jointly with Robert Brown of California State University San Marcos, says the median price of a single-family detached (SFD) home in North San Diego County was $610,000 in December 2005. This represented a 5.4 percent decline from the $644,899 November 2005 median price but still a 5.17 percent hike from the December 2004 price of $580,000.

In non-North County areas, the median SFD price in 2005 dropped 2.5 percent from $559,000 in November to $545,000 in December, but was still 5.47 percent higher than the $530,000 median in December 2004.

While prices were higher during that year, there has been a significant slowdown in those increases.

Homes also are staying longer on the market. North San Diego County median-priced SFDs stayed 55 days on the market during December 2005, an increase from 49 days in November 2005.

Non-North County SFDs were on the market an average 66 days in December 2005, compared to 61 in November 2005.

Sales were quite flat when comparing December 2005 to the previous year -- 721 SFD listings sold in the North County last month, compared with 734 such listings in December 2004.

During December 2005, the monthly payment -- including principle, interest, property taxes and insurance -- for the median-priced SFD home in North San Diego County was $3,675, compared to $3,815 in November 2005 and to $3,283 for the monthly payment of the median SFD home in Non-North San Diego County ZIP codes.

Nine percent of households could afford the median-priced SFD home in North County in December 2005, according to the North San Diego County HomeDex. This represented a 1 percent increase from November 2005. A fall in home prices in December increased the level of affordability.

While the HomeDex report said non-North County affordability for detached and attached units remained constant at 12 percent in November and December 2005, the California Association of Realtors recently reported that only 8 percent of all San Diego-area residents could afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in December.

The HomeDex affordability index here assumes homeowners place 20 percent down and spend no more than a third of their income on housing, which in North County during December 2005 required an annual income of $146,981 to purchase the median-priced SFD home.

The SFD median home prices were highest in Rancho Santa Fe (92067) at $3.75 million, with median SFD prices also more than $1 million in Del Mar (92014), Pauma Valley (92061), Bonsall (92003), Carlsbad (92011) and Solana Beach (92075).

The community of Fallbrook (92028) posted 41 resales in December. The median price in that market was $607,500, and the affordability index was 9 percent in December.

Al Bartlett of Coldwell Banker Landmark in Fallbrook, said while it is difficult to assess a market just coming out of the holiday season, homes priced at more than $1 million are generally taking about six months to sell. Even homes priced below that level are on the market for 60 to 65 days, he added.

Bartlett also said while 30-year fixed home mortgage rates (only about a 1 percent increase over a year ago) remain very low despite multiple hikes by the Federal Reserve, he is worried about the increase in prices.

"Every time we turn around there's a new fee," Bartlett said. "We have a $10,000 traffic impact. You add that to the cost of wood, cement and other construction materials, and the fact that God isn't making any more land, and everything is becoming more expensive."

Still, Bartlett says he is optimistic. "I'm not spending my commission checks before I close, but I never have," he said.

Median prices looked a lot better in places such as $480,000 in Vista to $500,000 in some parts of Oceanside.

The North San Diego County HomeDex for SFD homes ranged from 11 percent to 16 percent in the relatively more affordable distribution of ZIP codes: Poway (92064), Ramona (92065), Oceanside (92054, 92056, 92057), Escondido (92025, 92026, 92027), Vista (92081, 92083, 92084) and San Marcos (92069).

The median-priced, single-family attached (SFA) home in North San Diego County was $415,000 in December 2005, a 5 percent increase from $395,000 in November 2005, and a 7.8 percent increase from the $385,000 recorded in December 2004.

Non-North San Diego County ZIP codes reported a 2.7 percent increase in median SFA prices from December 2004 to December 2005.

The survey found that 20 percent of households could afford the median-priced SFA home in North San Diego County during December 2005, down 3 percentage points from December 2004.

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