San Diego County: A Shortage of Land in a Housing Market Screaming For Inventory

You don’t have to be a whiz at Economics 101 to understand the supply and demand imbalance affecting available housing and developable land in San Diego County.  You only need to drive around town or talk to neighbors in order to understand that the County is poised to experience a crises with respect to finding available housing to meet the demand.

According to the San Diego Association of Governments, the pace of residential building permits in San Diego County over the last five years is about half of what the region now needs each year (12,000 units needed annually).  In addition, only approximately 4,300 resale homes are currently on the market within San Diego County – a four year low according to numbers from the local Realtors Association.  A six month supply of housing inventory has historically been associated with a balance in supply and demand.

Currently, there is less than a two month supply of housing inventory in San Diego County!

Building Permit Chart

The scarcity of housing supply has fueled double-digit annual increases in the median price of homes sold in San Diego County in each of the past seven months, according to Data Quick based in La Jolla.  Based upon a recent per square footage analysis from the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, Single Family Home prices have risen 14% from a year ago and Condominium/Townhouse resale values have skyrocketed 21%.

According to Data Quick, the 19% gain in the price of homes sold in March 2013 was the highest annual gain seen since January of 2005 (a few months before the peak in home values prior to the recently past recession).

Would-be buyers active in the resale market must compete with a significant percentage of “all cash” buyers (now accounting for approximately a third of all transactions).  Thus, there is amped up demand for new homes which once represented one sale for every four to six resales.  New home sales made up only 7% of total residential home sales in San Diego County in March 2013.  The drop in market share shows that fewer homes are being constructed and fewer acres of developable land are available for builders.

Future demand for housing may only increase as unemployment eases and low interest rates (now below 4%) jump start throngs of current renters who understand that their total monthly obligations for a condominium or townhome are likely now less then the rent they are paying each month.

As a result, LAO is now seeing unprecedented demand for both entitled and un-entitled subdivision land throughout the greater San Diego Metropolitan Area.

Source: Bob McFarland, Marketing Consultant, (858) 568-7428

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