Where is the San Diego Market Bottom?



by Roberta Murphy

market bottom“Is there a market bottom–and when will it arrive? Are we there yet?”

We keep hearing that buyers are sitting on the sidelines, wondering when and where the bottom of the San Diego real estate market might settle.

Yet when San Diego’s foreclosed homes are listed much below market value, our investors and buyers are encountering (and participating in) multiple offers that push the price of that foreclosure into true market value range.

And where does the bidding stop?

At, or close to, true market value.

These circumstances are nothing like San Diego real estate auctions, where a mix of amateurs and seasoned pros are bidding against each other in a noisy frenzy. Properties are sold as-is and buyers must be prepared to pay a buyer’s premium that ranges between 5 and 10 percent of the ultimate sales price.

Under normal listing circumstances–which may include foreclosures, buyers are urged to make their best offer up front, and be prepared for the seller’s counter offer. Buyers are given hours or days to respond, instead of auctioneer’s seconds.

The good news is that San Diego’s real estate market does have a bottom. It is one that obviously varies upon location. In Chula Vista, Otay Mesa and other South Bay areas, the bottom may be bouncing around 2004 prices (and even lower in certain neighborhoods). Around the coast, prices seem to be hovering around 2005 pricing–or even better if the property is located on the ocean, or has a rare ocean view.

We watch the San Diego real estate market constantly, and use our own published market statistics with our clients from here and abroad. San Diego will always be more expensive than Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis or Scottsdale, if only because of our incomparable year round climate. For that reason alone, our real estate pricing will not collapse as it might in certain other areas. San Diego’s economy is strong, its desirability is global, and few wish to leave this paradise. After all, why buy in a place where you have to leave for three to five months out of the year to escape a yucky climate?

More and more, we hear that people choose to live or retire in San Diego County–and never plan to leave.

San Diego is rarely an interim stop. People come to visit, to stay…and rarely leave.

Could the same be said of Dubai?

7 responses to “Where is the San Diego Market Bottom?

  1. Hello! Found your blog on yahoo while searching for Carlsbad Home Insurance Quotes – quite some good info thanks, J.Sanders

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  3. For the month of November to date, only 900 properties have closed escrow, and less than 1300 of the close to 24,000 properties in the MLS have gone into escrow.

    Suggesting we are anywhere near the bottom is laughable.

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  5. Desperate Agent:

    How else to you explain the multiple offers that come in on San Diego properties priced solidly under market value?

    There are buyers waiting for circumstances such as these. Some are investors–and more and more, they are Euro and Loonie-packing foreigners who, because of stronger currencies, are able to buy at an even steeper discount.

    The statistics you cite for San Diego’s current real estate market are not pretty; in fact, they are ugly enough to look something like the bottom end of the market.

    And that is where the biggest pool of buyers is congregating–and competing.

  6. Desperate Agent:

    I asked the question first in the title: Where is the San Diego Market Bottom? What say you? What do you think it will look like? Will you recognize it?

    I don’t think San Diego’s real estate bottom will chart out sharp and pointed; rather, it will be a nice, rounded bottom that is well-supported by qualified home buyers, investors and others who have been waiting patiently on the sidelines.

    It’s these multiple offers on aggressively-priced properties (including one of our listings)that makes me wonder….

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  8. Roberta – great article. This is a heated topic and I think it’s great you’re brave enough to face the self-proclaimed experts.

    I’ve been asked the same question, as all agents have – Are we at the Bottom? And my answer is, I don’t know. I recently pulled some number from Sandicor, for the Downtown area.

    I found that prices from this year, versus last year, are less than 1% apart! Does that indicate a steady decline? I like to look at statistics…not news headlines.


  9. Thanks, Denny.

    It continues to amaze me that a near-record number of foreclosures in San Diego are being recorded, while we are back to countering multiple offers on well priced properties.

    My simple explanation to clients is that the foreclosed upon properties were overpriced to begin with. If a foreclosure heat map could by laid over San Diego, I think we would see that most of the defaulted loans are clustered in South Bay, portions of east San Diego County, and some of the new home communities where buyers got caught up in Phase One Mania.

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