Monthly Market Overview North San Diego County

The number of homes for sale, days on market and months of supply were all down in year-over-year comparisons in a majority of the country for the entirety of 2017, as was housing affordability. And although total sales volumes were mixed, prices were consistently up in most markets. Buyers may not benefit from higher prices, but sellers do, and there should be more listing activity by more confident sellers in 2018. At least that would be the most viable prediction for an economic landscape pointing toward improved conditions for sellers.

Closed Sales decreased 15.9 percent for Detached homes and 8.4 percent for Attached homes.

Pending Sales decreased 4.2 percent for Detached homes but increased 6.0 percent for Attached homes.

The Median Sales Price was up 8.9 percent to $685,000 for Detached homes and 15.3 percent to $449,700 for Attached homes.

Days on Market decreased 26.5 percent for Detached homes and 19.4 percent for Attached homes.

Supply decreased 30.0 percent for Detached homes and 20.0 percent for Attached homes.

Unemployment rates have remained low throughout 2017, and wages have shown improvement, though not always to levels that match home price increases. Yet housing demand remained incredibly strong in 2017, even in the face of higher mortgage rates that are likely to increase further in 2018.

Home building and selling professionals are both cautiously optimistic for the year ahead. Housing and economic indicators give reason for this optimism, with or without new federal tax legislation.

Download (Dec-2017-Monthly.pdf)

New life for one of Oceanside’s oldest buildings

A new life is about to begin for one of Oceanside’s oldest buildings, a brick structure on Pier View Way that opened as a hardware store in 1888, the same year the city was incorporated.

Now known as the Schuyler Building for its original owner, John Schuyler, the hardware store once sold tools and supplies essential to the rapidly growing region. It later served as a grocery store and a boarding house, among other uses. For the past 30 years or longer, it had a laundry on the first floor and the upper floors were mostly vacant and used for storage.

Now the new owner, Tom Aldrich, plans to open a restaurant on the first floor, a 10-room boutique hotel on the second and third floors, and a public outdoor bar on the roof, with views of the surrounding city and the Pacific Ocean a few blocks away.

“Maybe we’ll call it The 1888 Hotel,” Aldrich said. “We want to keep with the historical aspect of it, if we can.”

He’s already gutted the interior of the building and stripped away the stucco that was applied to the brick exterior in the 1930s. That revealed the original signs painted high up on the walls to advertise “Hardware, Stoves, Crockery and Bicycles,” and another one for “Rooms.” On the eastern side facing the alley, they uncovered a smaller sign that says “Contreras and Gelpi, cash grocers.”

“The significance of this building is that it’s been many things,” said Oceanside historian John Daley, who sometimes leads walking tours of notable downtown sites.

“It’s adjusted to the times,” Daley said. “There’s nothing more appealing than for it to be a boutique hotel in today’s world.”

Read the rest HERE. 

San Francisco’s Skyline, Now Inescapably Transformed by Tech

SAN FRANCISCO — The skyscraper came late to this city, a shipping and manufacturing hub for much of its existence. The wealthy roosted on the hills and the masses toiled on the flats and the docks. Everyone lived close to the ground in a setting renowned for its natural beauty.

Now the things being shipped are virtual, and vast amounts of office space are needed to design, build and market them. Salesforce, a company that did not exist 20 years ago, will take up residence on Jan. 8 in the new Salesforce Tower, which at 1,070 feet is the tallest office building west of the Mississippi.

In Silicon Valley, the office parks blend into the landscape. They might have made their workers exceedingly rich, they might have changed the world — whether for better or worse is currently up for debate — but there is nothing about them that says: We are a big deal.

Skyscrapers tell a different story. They are the pyramids of our civilization, permanent monuments of our existence. They show who is in charge and what they think about themselves. Salesforce Tower is breaking a San Francisco height record that stood for nearly half a century.

“A ceiling has been breached,” said Alison Isenberg, a professor of urban history at Princeton University. “Now the discussion becomes is this just a building that is taller than the ones we already had, or does it raise new questions about the nature of the city?”

Continue reading the main story

San Diego luxury housing could see a boost under tax plan

Major changes to the tax code approved Wednesday by Congress could mean luxury homes in San Diego County will have more buyers, or at the least, see no noticeable change in sales.

The new tax plan reduces the mortgage interest deduction on new loans up to $750,000, down from $1 million. But, it also significantly reduces the corporate tax rate — meaning well-heeled people with holdings in several companies could have some extra money to spend.

Some real estate agents who sell high-end properties were optimistic after the tax vote Wednesday, especially because they said affluent buyers see real estate as a strong investment.

“You’re going to have wealthy people getting dividends, buybacks, and a lot of money to buy that second or third property,” said Brett Dickinson, a Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty agent. “Now you have excess money that you weren’t really counting on.”

There have been 127 homes that have sold for more than $4 million this year in San Diego County as of Dec. 15, said Reports on Housing, up from 93 during the same time last year. Home sales from $2 million to $4 million had the biggest percentage increase in sales, with 712 sales so far this year up from 471 in 2016.

Steven Thomas, chief economist at Reports on Housing, said he wasn’t so sure the tax change would be a windfall for the luxury market. Instead, he said it could simply keep everything about the same because changes to state and local taxes could hurt prosperous Californians.

“It is hard to surmise what it is going to mean to each individual person,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have a hot market. We are selling more and more luxury homes than ever before.”

Thomas said the people in the cut-off range could be most affected. For instance, he said those with a $900,000 mortgage get to deduct the interest on all of it, but if they try to move up to a $1.2 million house after the tax changes, they would lose $150,000 of deductible interest.

Most San Diego buyers do not need to worry about the deduction. The median home price was $529,750 in October and most buyers put 10 to 20 percent down. Even after the tax changes, with 20 percent down, the entire interest of a home costing $937,500 could be deducted.

From January to October, 8.2 percent of mortgages (including purchase and refinance loans) were more than $750,000, CoreLogic said. That was up 6.3 percent from all of 2016.

Read the rest HERE. 

As California fires blaze, homeowners fear losing insurance

California homeowners and regulators have a new fear about wildfires ravaging the state: that insurers will drop coverage.

Massive, out-of-season fires in northern and southern California are causing billions of dollars in claims and challenging expectations of when and where to expect blazes. State law gives insurers more leeway to drop coverage than to raise rates, and some are taking the opportunity, concerning California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

Homes in the Sierra Nevada foothills were dropped after wildfires swept through the region in recent years, and some other Northern California homes also have been cut from rosters, Jones said.

“We may see more of it,” he added in an interview. Insurers must renew fire victims’ policies once, but after that homeowners could be driven to unusual, expensive policies.

Retired firefighter Dan Nichols of Oroville, California was surprised when Liberty Mutual dropped his coverage this year, following a wildfire in the region.

“I was shocked and angry,” said Nichols, 70, by email.

Liberty Mutual must “responsibly manage” its overall exposure to California’s wildfires as part of a strategy to safeguard its ability to pay homeowners’ claims, a spokesman said. The insurer still issues policies in California and its strategy is not in response to recent fires, he said.

Nichols found a better deal through AAA, but others are not as lucky. In San Andreas, a community northeast of San Francisco, homeowners typically use specialty insurers, known as “surplus lines carriers,” for policies that cost about 20 to 40 percent more than a mainstream insurer, said Fred Gerard, who owns an insurance agency in the area.

Insurers must be cautious by not covering too many homes in one area, said Janet Ruiz, a spokeswoman for the industry’s Insurance Information Institute. “They tend to spread their risk so they can pay claims,” Ruiz said.

Read the rest HERE.