San Diego Housing Market News and Analysis
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I started this website in mid-2004 to chronicle San Diego’s spectacular housing bubble. The purpose of the site remains, as ever, to provide objective and evidence-based analysis of the San Diego housing market. A quick guide to the site follows:
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Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 19, 2020 - 10:01pm
I wanted to being by noting this article from the great Calculated Risk. It discusses the relationship between months-of-inventory and short-term price changes, and includes a scatter graph between the two. It was this idea from CR that inspired the San Diego version that's become central to the monthly updates here:
(To quickly explain this graph: the red line is the monthly change in the SD Case-Shiller index; the blue line is months of inventory, but inventory is inverted to make the relationship more clear).
This did a pretty good job of mapping the relationship between inventory and prices through the bust and initial recovery, but early in the teens the lines began to drift apart. Pigg reader gzz offered a theory: the arrival of online real estate portals (Redfin etc) sped up the inventory throughput cycle, changing the "equilibrium" amount of inventory in a balanced market. Previously, the equilibrium inventory (the level at which prices were stable) was about 6 months. More recently, it's been closer to 2 1/3 months.
With this adjustment for a faster moving real estate market, months of inventory has done a really good job of calibrating where we are on supply vs. demand (and thus, upward vs. downward price pressure).
Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 9, 2020 - 2:46pm
September pretty much looked like August -- sales steady, inventory even a bit lower, and prices popping in response to the low supply/high demand. Charts below...
Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 14, 2020 - 1:36pm
Last month, inventory dropped to the lowest it's been since the bubble. Prices have moved up in response.
Sales continue to be strong... nothing spectacular, but showing no weakness at all:
Meanwhile, available inventory has dropped off a cliff:
The result: super low months of inventory:
Submitted by Rich Toscano on August 16, 2020 - 5:17pm
There just isn't much to buy out there.
Sales are strong, but nothing crazy, when you consider the rebound from the lockdown:
But inventory is the lowest it's been since the post-bubble bull market got started:
Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 22, 2020 - 9:12pm
Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 20, 2020 - 8:38pm
Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 20, 2020 - 8:55pm
Hello friends, sorry for the delay on this.
For the month of March, things looked pretty normal-ish, except for pendings, see right below. Which all kind of makes sense given the timing of the lockdown.
The April numbers will likely look a little weirder than March. In the meantime, user sdrealtor has been posting some updates from the trenches over on the previous data update; see the comments at the bottom. It sounds like the market is pretty resilient, from what he is seeing.
Graphs below and more to come when the April numbers are available...
Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 21, 2020 - 9:22pm
Well, here's how the stats looked for the year:
Quite a change from December 2019, notably with months of inventory down 36%. It's no coincidence this took place alongside a steep drop in interest rates. I think the behavior of the past 2 years -- the rapid slowdown when rates rose, followed by a rebound when rates fell again -- makes it pretty clear that the housing market is very much beholden to continued low rates.
Here is what I believe to be the best indicator of short term market strength -- months of inventory (number of homes for sale divided by the number of pending sales in a given month).
Submitted by Rich Toscano on November 17, 2019 - 2:41pm
Submitted by Rich Toscano on October 11, 2019 - 4:07pm
A summary of last month in 2 charts:
1. Prices eased off
2. But months-of-inventory remains low, and supportive of somewhat higher prices. Unless that changes, I wouldn't expect anything like the price decline we saw at this time last year:
More graphs below!
Submitted by Rich Toscano on August 23, 2019 - 3:05pm
Just the graphs this month, my friends...
Submitted by Rich Toscano on August 6, 2019 - 1:50pm
Below is a San Diego housing update my financial planning firm sent to our clients and friends. (If you'd like to sign up for our quarterly updates, you can do so here). Stick around for some bonus pigg-only graphs at the end.
Measuring housing expensiveness
We all know that buying a home in San Diego costs a lot more than in most cities. But that's always been the case, and probably always will be, because San Diego is such a desirable place to live. More interesting is the question of how expensive San Diego is compared to its own history. This can tell us whether prices are out of whack even after adjusting for the desirability factor.
A good way to measure housing expensiveness is to compare home prices to local rents and incomes. Rents tell us how much it costs to live in San Diego as a non-owner, while incomes show how much money San Diegans have to spend on housing. By comparing home prices to rents and incomes, we can get an idea of their cheapness or expensiveness relative to the economic factors that typically drive them. (This is also known as their "valuation").
Here's a chart of San Diego housing valuation since the late
Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 8, 2019 - 5:50pm
There was a bit of in increase in months of inventory in June, but it seems pretty par for the course for this time of year:
If rates stay nice and low, I expect that the trajectory of the 2019 line will end up looking more like 2016-17 than 2018. (And if they don't... well then it's probably the 2018 route).
Here's a look at price changes vs. inverted month of inventory, still tracking quite well on the assumption that 2.5 months is the "new normal" equilibrium level of inventory.
Price-wise, we are right back at peak levels, in nominal terms.
In valuation terms we are still below last year's peak, but I will soon have more on that. In the meantime, more graphs below!
Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 24, 2019 - 8:52pm
Mostly just charts this month, friends. A couple quick observations:
- The market was pretty strong again but weakened from the prior month, in terms of both price and months of inventory... this chart sums that up best.
- But interest rates have dropped further, which should be a tailwind in the coming months (if the new low level persists)
- FWIW prices are (slightly) down year over year in real and nominal terms -- but the comparison will get easier starting in July, which is when prices started declining last year. Between that and the drop in rates (again, assuming that persists), I am guessing we'll be back in positive y-o-y territory soon.
More graphs below!
Submitted by Rich Toscano on May 12, 2019 - 3:11pm
April was another strong month, as prices firmed up further and months of inventory decreased. This latter point is best illustrated on a graph that compares monthly changes... note how late last year -- take December for instance -- inventory was much higher than a year earlier. Now, it is only slightly higher than the year-ago level:
The 3-month average of single family price/square foot also rose again, and prices appear to be nearing last year's peak:
Despite this, the year-over-year price comparison weakened, because April 2018 was a tougher month to compare against. (The peak for this series was in June, so comparisons will continue to get tougher for a couple months):
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