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San Diego home sales down for 5th straight month

Home sales fell for the fifth month in a row in San Diego County in October and prices were also down, real estate tracker CoreLogic reported Thursday.

The latest numbers show continued signs of a slowdown in the real estate market — across the nation, not just locally — but analysts cautioned it was not similar to conditions that caused the 2006 housing crash. Still, there was evidence home prices would continue to decline or, at least, stay at current levels.

In October, the median home price was $558,000, down by $25,000 from the all-time peak reached in August, but still up 5.4 percent for the year. Sales were down 12 percent compared to the same time last year and at their lowest level since 2011. There were 3,162 home sales in October, down from 3,592 in 2017, 3,597 in 2016 and 3,356 in 2015.

“I think the boom is over,” said financial analyst Rich Toscano, who predicted the housing crash in November 2005 on his housing blog Professor Piggington’s Econo-Almanac.

He said price declines in the fall are typical and not that big of a deal, but the concern for the market is how rapidly the number of homes for sale went up while sales also dropped.

There were 7,918 homes for sale in October, up from 5,436 — 46 percent — from the same time last year, said the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. There were 6,211 homes for sale in October 2016, 6,964 in 2015 and 8,295 in 2014.

Toscano, an analyst with Pacific Capital Associates, said the market has been driven in recent years by an intense supply and demand imbalance that drove up prices.

“Home prices got really high based on this perpetually low inventory, and now that’s gone,” Toscano said. “Can prices be supported at this level? I think you could make the argument with more inventory and less demand that prices will back off a bit.”

He said current market conditions were much different than before the housing crash: The cost of homes compared to rents or incomes is not nearly as out-of-whack as it was in 2006, it’s much tougher now to get home loans and mortgage interest rates aren’t as high.

Sales across all housing types were down:

  • Resale single-family homes — 1,989 sold, down from 2,240 at the same time last year. Median price was $610,000, down from the peak of $630,000 in June and July.
  • Resale condos — 952 sold, down from 1,102 in 2017. Median price was $415,000, down from the peak of $432,000 in July.
  • Newly built homes — 221 sold, down from 250 last year. Median price hit an all-time high of $812,500.