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


Inland Empire… It’s FBO!

Economic news in Southern California’s Inland Empire appears to be looking up these days.  But is the homebuilding recovery here to stay?  Is it Facebook Official?

Last week, Land Advisors’ Senior Marketing Consultant Doug Jorritsma gave a presentation to a group of professionals regarding the state of the land/homebuilding market in the Inland Empire (Western San Bernardino & Riverside Counties).  On board with the wave of social media sweeping our communication style these days, Doug kept the message short, sweet, and direct, highlighting the market facts with a Facebook-like thumbs up or thumbs down.  Check ‘em out here…


  • Unemployment/job generation still a big problem
  • State financial crisis looms large (Redevelopment Agencies and Schools)
  • Construction lending still challenging
  • Number of housing permits is currently 28% of what is was at the market’s peak


  • The worst is behind us!
  • Lenders dispositions are done! (Except for the little stuff.)
  • Most public and private homebuilders will be increasingly active going forward
  • Single and multi-family building permits are on the rise – (Currently DOUBLE 2009 numbers)
  • Institutional capital and private equity slowly giving THUMBS UP
  • No finished lot supply creates a near-term shortage
  • Land values are slowly trending up
  • Foreclosure activity is trending down
  • Five-month upward trend of improving new home sales
  • Big box industrial gets a double THUMBS UP
  • Interest rates are to remain low through 2014
  • Consumer confidence is improving which means retail sales are improving
  • Apartment vacancies currently at 4% – 6%, rents are up 1% – 5%

Land Advisors ♥’s Social Media

Source:Doug Jorritsma, Senior Marketing Consultant, and Winn Galloway, Senior Marketing Consultant (949) 852-8288

Big Moves and Bright Ideas in Northern Central Valley makes a move (to CA): Even the cynics out there are saying that NOW is the time to buy a home.  With interest rates and home values at an all time low, it is certainly a buyer’s market these days.  The problem is remains however, that limited numbers of potential buyers have enough equity ready to put into buying a new home.  The unemployment rate in California and nationwide is still painfully high and we are all waiting for job creation to help boost the economy and the homebuilding industry. 

Good news for California: made a promise last year to bring 10,000 new jobs to California, and now, according to, the online sales giant is apparently ready to make good on that pledge, starting in western Stanislaus County.  Amazon is expected to announce soon it will build a 1,500-employee distribution center off I-5 in Patterson, west of Modesto.

Patterson profile:

  • Although Patterson has experienced few to no home sales in last two years, the city has shown to be a viable submarket for home sales. From 2002 to 2009 just short of 3,000 new homes sold in this area.
  • Fewer than 200 “finished” lots remain within the City of Patterson.
  • 1,500 new Amazon jobs will dramatically reduce current 18.4% unemployment rate.

New Vision for Merced: At the Merced City Council meeting this month, the public weighed in on the Merced Vision 2030 General Plan, which City officials hope will turn Merced into a dynamic urban entity by 2030.

The concerns at the meeting varied… UC Merced officials were elated with the inclusion of the campus and the University Community housing project in the “Vision.”  On the other hand, some city residents were concerned about the population projections and the potential impacts on agricultural land.

The City Council approved the plan by a 6-1 vote.  Castle Farms, a proposed mixed-use development at Highway 59 and Bellevue Road, and Mission Lakes, a community plan bounded by Mission Avenue to the north, agricultural land to the south and Highway 59 to east, were both left out of the plan because some of the City Council members believe the footprint of the plan is too big.

Bright Idea on Campus: They say college is the time to “find yourself.”  Well the students of the newly-opened University of California, Merced are taking that idea to the next level, and are finding themselves in some pretty nice homes.  Many students are ditching the traditional, crammed on-campus dorms for a more spacious and luxurious option: the vacant foreclosed “McMansions” left behind by the housing boom.

Nearly 5,200 students attend UC Merced, but the university has only enough campus housing for about a third of its population.  The Merced community is hearing mixed reactions from the students who are renting the 5+ bedroom homes and using them in an unconventional way, but overall the sentiment is currently positive.  Neighbors are happy to not have homes left vacant on their street, and the current title holders are happy to be collecting some kind of income from the properties.

Source: RJ Radler, Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 ext. 12

Spotlight on FOLSOM

Located northeast of Sacramento, the City of Folsom is just south of Folsom Lake in Northern California.  Folsom is currently the most desirable sub-market in the Sacramento Region for homebuilders, where average sales prices of homes are now close to DOUBLE those of the overall region.

Folsom Fast Facts:

  • Residential land north of U.S. Highway 50 traded for $1 million per acre (raw) at the peak of the market in 2005.
  • At the current absorption pace, Folsom will be out of finished lots by 2014/2015.
  • Folsom enjoys a 5.7% unemployment rate (current California unemployment is 12%), and thus has minimal foreclosure activity.
  • Folsom’s schools consistently rank in the upper echelon of school districts not only in the region but in the entire state.

Landmark Folsom REO Property Available for Sale:

Land Advisors Organization is currently marketing Carpenter Ranch – a 1,019-acre master planned community located in Folsom’s Sphere of Influence in Sacramento County.

The property rests along 1.5 miles of Highway 50, and was recently entitled for 2,263 residential units and over 3 million square feet of commercial uses.  Previous investment in the land totals over $100 million.

Source: Jim Radler, Senior Marketing Consultant, at (916) 784-3329 ext. 11.

Santa Clarita Valley Economic Snapshot: IMPROVING

Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Division’s Economic Snapshot report for July indicated that the Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) local economy is doing better than many of its surrounding communities.  Housing prices are moving UPWARD, and the local unemployment is around 8%.  Notice of Defaults recorded between July 1010 and July 2011 dropped 32%.  Read more:

SALES STATS: Q3 2011, Santa Clarita Valley (Source: Hanley Wood)

Detached Product

  • Regular Resale: Average Sale Price $435,450; Average Price/SF $195; Closings 394
  • REO Sale: Average Sale Price $339,079; Average Price/SF $169; Closings 121
  • New Home Sale: Average Sale Price $475,857; Average Price/SF $191; Closings 42
  • Foreclosures: Closings 198

Attached Product

  • Regular Resale:  Average Sale Price $240,126;  Average Price/SF $177;  Closings 182
  • REO Sale:  Average Sale Price $182,178;  Average Price/SF $155;  Closings 88
  • New Home Sale:  Average Sale Price $465,167;  Closings 9
  • Foreclosures:  Closings 137

Building permits are still hovering at incredibly low numbers these days in the SCV.  According to a recent Santa Clarita Signal article, most of the SCV’s building permits requested are for single family units.  This differs greatly from neighboring sub-markets where multi-family activity is booming.

Builders and developers are still waiting for lower development fees in the Santa Clarita Valley.  They are having a difficult time finding residential land deals that make sense given the current economic environment. (Development impact fees are currently averaging approximately $50,000 per lot.)

Source: Michel Faris, Marketing Consultant, (949) 852-8288 x14

Lowered Development Fees and More Jobs Headed to the Northern Central Valley

Earlier this year, the City of Modesto lowered many of its development fees, including the one-time charges that pay for roads and other public facilities.  The City is lowering capital facility fees by 22% to 45% for residential and commercial projects. Read article: Modesto Bee

ECONOMIC IMPACT:  The University of California, Merced began initial operations in July 2000 and has since contributed approximately $650 million to the San Joaquin Valley economy.  With over 5,000 students currently enrolled, the City of Merced is becoming a hot spot for student housing development, and is anticipating more jobs in the horizon.

Many residents of the Central Valley are looking forward to progress with construction of the proposed high-speed rail, which was approved in 2008.  This mega project is surrounded by loads of controversy, but is estimated to bring approximately new 83,000 jobs to the Central Valley. Read article: Central Valley Business Journal

EMPLOYMENT FACTOR:   As is the case in most homebuilding sub-markets across the country, homebuilders and developers in the Central Valley are eagerly awaiting decreased unemployment and increased consumer confidence, in hopes of jump starting new home sales.

California’s unemployment rate increased to 12.1% in August. However, with the summer growing season in full swing and harvesting of some crops underway, the jobless rates in the Central Valley dipped a bit in August.  Read article: Central Valley Business Times

Here are the August 2011 Central Valley unemployment rates, followed by those from July 2011, which are in parentheses. All are estimates: (Source: Central Valley Business Times)

  • Fresno County, 15.8%; (16.7%)
  • Kern County, 14.4%; (15.5%)
  • Kings County, 15.3%; (16.1%)
  • Madera County, 14.4%; (15.4%)
  • Merced County, 17.5%; (18.7%)
  • San Joaquin County, 16.1%; (17.5%)
  • Stanislaus County, 16.0%; (17.5%)
  • Tulare County, 15.7%; (16.6%)

Source: RJ Radler, Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 x12

Has Sacramento Sunk to the Bottom?

  • Property assessments declined 2.9% in the four-county Sacramento area during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.  Read more:
  • Distress sales continue to weigh down real estate prices in the Sacramento area, which remained flat during the most recent four-month period.  Read more:
  • Last week Sacramento’s arena committee unveiled funding options for a new sports and entertainment center that would use a mix of private and public dollars and user fees.  Read more:
  • Matching federal funds for the Natomas Levee Improvement Project are currently being negotiated at the federal level and should have some direction in November. The hope is to have an “A99” Flood Level Designation by summer 2012.  Check the following website for more information:
  • Unemployment is still above 12% for the Sacramento region. Sacramento residents are feeling anxiety over what the State may do with its employees if budget issues continue.
  • Bids are due Wednesday (9/14/11) from interested parties in the unsold condos at the L Street Lofts in midtown.  The $55 million L Street Lofts were originally built by prominent developer Sotiris Kolokotronis. Onewest Bank foreclosed in April on 70 unsold units at the seven-story 92-unit signature condominium project in midtown that struggled to find buyers. 
  • Fixed mortgage rates fell this week to the lowest levels in six decades. But few Americans (including Sacramento home buyers) can take advantage of the rates to refinance or buy a home. Read more: 

Source: Jim Radler, Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 x11