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Few would have believed, back in the boom days, that a 1.6 percent monthly decline in the median price per square foot for homes sold in San Diego County would be considered a pretty good month. But here we are.

The accompanying graph shows that the decline witnessed in January, previously unthinkable though it may have been, was actually quite tame compared to the whackage that took place during the last few months of 2008.

The size-adjusted median price for single family homes was down 1.7 percent between December and January. The same stat for condos was down .9 percent, with a volume-weighted aggregate of the two down 1.6 percent. From the late-2005 top, this price measurement was down 43.6 percent for single family homes, 51.4 percent for condos, and 46.2 percent in aggregate.

As always, this price metric can be thrown off by shifts in buyer preference towards more or less expensive homes. The latter has been happening of late, though that shift can’t last forever. Perhaps the relatively subdued decline the median price per square foot is a sign that the compositional move towards lower-priced homes is nearing completion. That question will bear looking into if some sort of trend emerges over the next couple of months.

— RICH TOSCANO

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