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Level in South County

Detached median prices rose in every region of S.D. County, but one

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Median prices for detached homes sold increased for every region of San Diego County, except for South County, which remained flat.

Throughout the county, the median-priced single-family detached home was $335,000 in May 2009. This is a 3.21 percent increase from April, but still down 20.5 percent from last year, according to the San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR).

While the north, south and metro regions of San Diego are all more than 22 percent lower than their May 2008 median prices, East County's median priced home for May was 14.7 percent down from 2008.

Part of the reason for East County's relative stability is that many parts of it have been completely built out, said Bob Schwartz a residential real estate broker who's been in the business for more than 30 years and runs a blog analyzing the latest news in real estate at BrokerForYou.com.

"Unlike some other areas, like downtown where they're overbuilt in condos or they have a lot of land to build on, East County's pretty much all built out except for a couple of spots here and there. That's one factor that probably kept prices better than other locations," he said.

Prior to the housing market downturn, regions like Otay Mesa, Chula Vista, Oceanside and downtown experienced hundreds of new units come onto the market. Those areas now have some of the highest foreclosure rates in the county.

Certain ZIP codes have been hit harder than others, according to SDAR.

The 92113 ZIP code, which encompasses Logan Heights, has dropped to $128,500 from $412,500 in May 2007 -- a 69 percent drop.

In May 2008, the median price of a home sold in the area was $272,500.

However, Logan Heights has seen a significant increase in sales. In May 2008, there were 28 detached home sales from January to May.

That total was eclipsed in less than three months this year and has had 98 home sales closed in 2009.

Oceanside's 91058 ZIP code has had the largest year-to-year increase in sales. After selling eight detached homes from January to May in 2008, year-to-date, the ZIP code has had 70 sales while substantiating a 13 percent median price decrease, according to the SDAR.

While most ZIP codes throughout the county have experienced year-to-year median price declines, there are a few areas that have seen median prices tick up.

Poway and Rancho Penasquitos have had relatively flat sales year-to-year, but both have had their median prices up 11 percent.

Poway's median price of a home sold in May was $605,000 while Rancho Penasquitos's was $640,0000.

Up until the past few months, many real estate agents have said the upper levels of the housing market have been largely insulated from the severe price declines seen for less expensive homes.

However, with unemployment rates rising and jumbo loans becoming harder to obtain, the upper tier is not sitting as comfortably as it once was.

Just because median prices are not spiraling downward as they once were does not mean home prices across the board have stopped declining.

Because median prices are the middle number in a set, it is possible more homes are being sold at the lower end of the market, causing the median price to align with where the majority of sales are occurring.

A wave of foreclosures is imminent within the next few months after the county has posted record high notices of default.

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