In spite of the general economic carnage underway, San Diego resale homes have continued to sell at a reasonably healthy pace.

Sales did decline between January and February, but the following graph shows that this is a typical seasonal pattern. Last month’s sales were slightly higher than those of February 2007 and over 43 percent higher than those of last February.

Volume has been substantially stronger among single family homes than among condos. This next graph, which displays the year-over-year change in detached home and condo sales for each month since February 2008, shows that sales of single family homes have been outpacing condo sales since mid-2008. I don’t have a particularly compelling explanation for why that might be, but it does jibe well with the more dramatic decline in condo prices.

Resale inventory rose a bit last month — also a seasonal pattern — but was still almost 24 percent lower than it had been a year prior. There were 6.8 months’ worth of inventory. This is a huge improvement over last February’s 12.7 months, but it is within the range that has prevailed since the summer of 2008 (a period during which prices have fallen hard, indicating that the fairly low months-of-inventory figure is not in itself a reason to expect price improvement).

I think it’s interesting that home sales are holding up so well in this economic climate. Many people have been laid off and many more probably fear the same. Yet someone is out there buying houses. They’re tending heavily towards buying cheap houses, it should be noted — and demand is still not strong enough to have slowed the decline in prices. But the demand is there, and it is substantially higher than it was a year ago when the economy appeared to be on much more stable footing.

— RICH TOSCANO

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