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California and the West

More Cooling of Housing in San Diego

October 12, 2006|From Reuters

The median price paid in September for a home in San Diego County, one of California's most closely watched housing markets, fell 4.4% from a year earlier, the local median's biggest year-over-year drop in 13 years, DataQuick Information Systems said Wednesday.

The median home price in the county, which had some of the state's fastest-climbing home prices during its recent housing boom, was $476,000 last month, off $22,000 from $498,000 a year earlier and down for the fourth consecutive month, the real estate information service reported.

Analysts see California's housing markets cooling dramatically, led by the San Diego region, where home prices soared because of strong demand, easy financing and low mortgage interest rates.

"San Diego climbed to a really high price peak in the last seven years, and now we're coming off of it," said Andrew LePage, an analyst with La Jolla-based DataQuick.

The number of homes sold in September in San Diego County totaled 3,207, marking a decline of 35% from 4,935 a year earlier, DataQuick said.

Housing sales in the region are likely to keep falling in the near term as prospective buyers wait for home prices to retreat more, said Mark Riedy, executive director of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the University of San Diego.

"There is a buyers' strike right now," said Riedy, a former president of mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae. "They're all kind of sitting around and not jumping in."

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