San Diego: How Banks Helped the Housing Market Get Back On Its Feet

“Shadow Inventory” was a dirty word for most of the past recession with respect to the housing market.  In general terms, it meant there was a large number of homes in foreclosure or soon to be foreclosed upon, which would flood the market and drive down home prices, and keep the housing market on its heels for years to come.  While no one will argue that the sheer volume of foreclosures nationwide and in Southern California is substantial, the threat of flooding the market has not materialized. 

 In San Diego County, as in most areas of Southern California, the Banks were smart and only released foreclosures to the marketplace in measured increments, so as to attract interest in inventory at reduced prices without flooding the market.  San Diego County foreclosures have recently been reported to be down 51% in comparison to a year ago.  As a result, investment groups interested in purchasing large quantities of lower priced foreclosure properties for the strong rental market have helped generate an overall market craving in San Diego County for relatively low-priced housing (generally posture below approximately $500,000).  Brokers active within marketplaces sporting significant volumes of housing priced below $500,000 report multiple offers for any available inventory, often driving up prices.  The average price of new and existing housing sold last month in San Diego County ($335,500), accounted for a 1.7% increase over the average price of homes sold in June of 2011.  The total sales volume in the resale market county-wide for single family detached homes through the first half of 2011 represents almost a 10% increase over the first six months of last year.

 

The market recovery for low-priced housing, coupled with long-standing reduced interest rates, is very slowly beginning to work itself up the price ladder of housing throughout San Diego County.   For example, in higher priced submarkets such as the North County Coastal Area, rates of absorption for new home developments have grown from an average of one sale per month per project last year, to approximately two sales per month in 2012. 

 Although generation of new jobs in San Diego County is headed in the right direction, the slow pace of employment growth has been the major force preventing a rapid recovery in the housing market.  With the potential cut back in government defense spending in San Diego County next year, the pace of job growth is not expected to pick up in the very near term.  However, continued low levels of housing inventory (the number of homes listed for sale at the end of the 1st Quarter of 2012 fell to its lowest level in nearly three years), government maintenance of low interest rates, and continued growth in demand for rental housing is expected to continue to fuel the housing market recovery, but at a continued gradual rate of growth.  Most economic forecasters are predicting housing appreciation in San Diego County in the near term to range between approximately 2% and 3% annually.  The moderate pace of market recovery may be a blessing in disguise; as a more gradual velocity in recovery will give the market its legs for more sustained growth; in contrast to the rapid inflation run-ups of past market cycles which eventually lead to faster boom to bust corrections. 

 Down the road, this bona fide housing recovery at the bottom of the “food chain” so to speak, will likely be looked upon as the flash point which signaled the beginning of the market recovery in the housing market in San Diego County.

 Source: Bob McFarland, Marketing Consultant, (858) 568-7428 ext. 12

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

Orange County Spring Report

CLOSED DEAL IN OC!  Mike Hunter, Winn Galloway and Allison Rawlins represented the buyer and the seller in the sale of 3 model homes & 88 partially-improved detached condominium lots at a former John Laing community in La Habra called “Brio.”  TRI Pointe Homes, LLC purchased the Brio property from a lender.  The City of La Habra issued this Press Release regarding the sale.

The County of Orange is soliciting qualified bids for a 100-acre site located in Irvine near the Great Park.  Developers would likely lease the site from the County and look to entitle for a variety of uses, including apartment, hotel, retail and office – Wild Rivers is rumored to be moving from the Irvine Spectrum area to this new location along the 5 Freeway :: http://www.ocbj.com/news/2012/mar/31/county-seeks-developers-100-open-acres-irvine/

The New Home Company will be debuting its new Lambert Ranch neighborhood, also located in the City of Irvine, which boasts spectacular views, no Mello Roos, a variety of parks and a ranch house recreational center, all within a gated community.  The grand opening of the 9 model homes is scheduled for Saturday, April 28th.

In multi-family news, the recent Casden Forecast projected that rents in Orange County will rise 5% by 2013 :: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/usc-casden-multifamily-forecast-rents-170000542.html

Source: Allison Rawlins, Marketing Consultant, (949) 852-8288 ext. 26

Central Coast: SLO at the Top of Land Wish Lists

California’s Central Coast is seeing an uptick in investment and development activity as developers and builders find pockets of opportunity with residential land projects emerging from distressed situations. Notorious for its high barriers to entry, the Central Coast sub-markets in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties remain supply-constrained.

Several newly acquired land projects have either broken or are breaking ground in the coastal towns of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, while a robust student-housing and rental market keeps San Luis Obispo (SLO) at the top of land wish lists.  These projects will bring the first new home product to this sub-market in several years. 

Other markets from Paso Robles to Salinas continue to attract investment attention as well.  

Source: Matt Power, Senior Marketing Consultant for California’s Central Coast sub-market.  For more information on land activity in this area, you can reach Matt at Land Advisors’ Santa Barbara Office at (805) 845-2660.