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When I was talking with Andrew LePage yesterday about these housing numbers, he sent me a breakdown of the median prices for homes sold in December as a function of the size of the homes.

The size-adjusted, or price-per-square-foot median gives us a bit more clarity on one of the murkiest home price measures — because the median price is the midpoint among all of the homes sold in a month, it can be pulled and warped quite dramatically depending on the mix of homes that sell.

“Even the relatively large declines in the median don’t tell the whole story,” LePage said. “Everybody knows there’s a significant correction underway. Everything’s pointing in the same direction — a lot of what’s selling right now is where you have a really motivated seller, or a foreclosure.”

Here’s a shot at breaking that whole-home price down to what December buyers paid per square foot. For resale detached homes, the median price per square foot fell the sharpest in East and South County neighborhoods. In the last three months of the year, the price per square foot for East County homes was $268, a 15 percent drop from December 2006, and a 21 percent drop from that area’s peak.

In the South County, the median price per square foot for resale detached homes was $256, a year-over-year change of 21.5 percent and a drop from the peak of 23.5 percent.

Compared to that, the other three subsections of the county showed these drops:

Central San Diego: 7.3 percent year-over-year, 12.4 percent off peak
North County coast: 6.8 percent year-over-year, 13.5 percent off peak
North County inland: 11.9 percent year-over-year, 17.2 percent off peak

“No matter how you slice the data it’s clear that East County and South County have been hit a lot harder than the rest,” LePage said.

LePage hooked us up with data for resale condos and townhomes, too. Here’s the breakdown (fourth quarter, median price per square foot percentage drops):

South County: 23.6 percent year-over-year, 29.5 percent off peak
East County: 18.1 percent year-over-year, 27.9 percent off peak
Central San Diego: 7.9 percent year-over-year, 15.6 percent off peak
North County coast: 9.4 percent year-over-year, 16.7 percent off peak
North County inland: 10.1 percent year-over-year, 18.8 percent off peak

LePage sounded a less-than-optimistic note.

“We’re still seeing the impact of the credit crunch and awfully low usage of jumbo loans,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be a solution to the credit crunch and the jumbo stuff on the horizon.”

KELLY BENNETT

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