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

2012 Ends with Numerous Year-End Closings in Southwest Riverside County

The year of 2012 ended with the most activity in southwest Riverside since the peak of activity in 2006. In December alone, public homebuilders closed on over 900 lots. The lot condition ranged from finished lots to unimproved mapped lots. One of the year end highlights of 2012 were two tentative map lot projects contained within the Temecula School District boundary with Land Advisors brokering the sales. The two maps combined to generate over 300 lots and were bought by two public homebuilders.

On the apartment front, a notable fully leased apartment complex is in escrow at a rumored sales price of +/- $215,000 per door.  While this per door number might seem low when compared to the coastal market, the comp will represent the highest per door sale since 2008.

The above transactions are a result of a number of factors from low interest rates to lack of housing supply available to both buyers and renters. In 2012, we saw a decrease in foreclosure sales as well as REO sales and higher sales volume all together when compared to 2011. As we move forward in the New Year, home sale prices are forecasted to receive upward pressure because supply is expected to remain flat.

Source: Mitch Casillas, Marketing Consultant, (949) 852-8288 ext. 23

San Diego County Market Trends Update

The Coastal Counties of Southern California (including San Diego County), continue to garner attention as on the fast track to a near-term market recovery in the housing market.

The word on the street today in the real estate industry (locally and on Wall Street) is that San Diego County is suffering from a supply shortage of new construction rental housing.

A robust supply of capital appears to be anxiously awaiting the opportunity to finance the development of new multi-family housing in “A” and “B” locations throughout the County. Given the perceived shortage of new construction rentals, nine multi-family projects totaling over 2,600 units are currently in the planning pipeline.

Vacancy rates among new rental townhouse properties that are built and designed with for-sale housing features in the County are close to 100% occupancy, likely due to the ownership of housing design and upgraded features (direct access to two-car enclosed garages etc.), attracting the many foreclosure and short sale “refugees,” or casualties from the “Great Recession.”

The majority of vacant multi-family properties are currently offered in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 per door, depending upon the strength of location.

SAN DIEGO S-CURVE: In the new construction for-sale housing sector, the “San Diego S-Curve Submarket” has dominated new home sales in the County for the last 12 months.

The S-Curve Submarket can be described geographically as: Beginning with the Carmel Valley (Pacific Highlands Ranch, Carmel Country Highlands etc.), moving east along Highway 56; and then north through the Torrey Highlands/Westview High School area along Camino Del Sur up to and including the Del Sur Ranch, and then east through the 4S Ranch and Camino Del Norte Road.

New home communities located within the S-Curve submarket attract many of the white collar executives and engineers who are employed in the biotech and high-tech firms such as Qualcomm, Sony, Hewlett Packard, etc.  These consumers place a heavy premium on the stellar public schools serving this submarket.  They also find access to this area convenient through Interstates 5 and 15, and Highway 56.  The majority of subdivision land within this submarket accommodating new single family detached housing has been equivalent to values ranging between approximately $300,000 and $500,000 per finished lot, depending upon location and lot size.

North San Diego County: In North County large scale residential development remains to be developed in master plans within Del Sur Ranch, the West Robertson Ranch, and Pardee’s land holdings in the Pacific Highlands Ranch Area (east Carmel Valley). A number of sizeable land plays located within the North County perimeter submarkets (Bonsall, Escondido, Valley Center, Fallbrook, Pala Mesa, and the I-15 Corridor between Riverside and San Diego Counties) are awaiting a demand push for the relative large supply of lots and homes in the region.

East San Diego County: In East County, the Fanita Ranch in Santee has yet to be developed.  A steady supply of small bite-sized infill land opportunities are emerging.

South San Diego County: The South Bay is the “800-pound gorilla in the room” because it has thousands of residential units remaining to be developed within existing and proposed master planned communities in the East Chula Vista area and Otay Mesa area.  The Baldwins and extended family, McMillin Communities, and Home Fed are a few of the builders/developers with skin in the game.  In addition, the area between East Chula Vista and the Mexican border (Otay Mesa, Brown Field etc.) has the potential for a large volume of new housing development within the next five years given the revised zoning currently being considered by local government.

With the pending housing market recovery, the development of a vibrant downtown San Diego housing market will be in reach again, once the dust settles concerning local government redevelopment.

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

Urban Infill: War and Peace in the LA Basin

The Land Advisors Urban Infill team is currently working with several developers who have recently submitted tentative tract maps, are revising existing tract maps, or intend to submit new tract maps for for-sale housing developments.  The Team is seeing the highest concentration of activity in Northeast Los Angeles (Echo Park, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock, and Glassell Park).

The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety’s September newsletter revealed that the City’s number of housing starts year-to-date is still low (-31% YOY).  However, plan check revenue is up (41% YOY), indicating an upswing of future housing supply.  Newsletter Sept 2011

Ideally located new home communities selling well-designed homes are showing strong sales numbers. In the third quarter, the Urban Infill Team led the closing eight single family attached lots at Lennar’s Playa Vista. In response to the growing demand for additional product in Playa Vista, Lennar closed the 2nd and 3rd lot take downs four months early. 

Los Angeles Land Use Update:  The Planning Department’s Code Studies Section unveiled late last week a draft ordinance that would allow the creation of site-specific development rules that could loosen-up laws on density, setbacks and open space requirements. The new process, called Planning Unit Development, is part of the Department’s 3-year-old effort to streamline the Municipal Code while also encouraging more public participation. Some might say those goals are as congruent as war and peace. http://www.landusela.net/2011/09/planning-dept-unveils-latest.html

Source: Tim Barden, Marketing Consultant, (949) 852-8288 x30, and Richard Byrd, Senior Marketing Consultant (626) 376-9840 x13, and Chris Gomez-Ortigoza, Marketing Consultant, (626) 376-9840 x14