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First-Time Homebuyers Struggle As San Diego County's Median Home Price Soars

A "For Sale" sign in front of a home in San Carlos in this undated photo.
KPBS Staff
A "For Sale" sign in front of a home in San Carlos in this undated photo.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in San Diego County rose to $825,120 in April, an increase from $800,000 a month ago, and over $150,000 more than the same time last year, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Those numbers mirror a statewide trend in increasing housing prices.

San Diego real estate broker Voltaire Lepe said that this kind of market growth is unprecedented in the region.

First-Time Homebuyers Struggle As San Diego County's Median Home Price Soars
Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

“There’s very little inventory. There’s about 2,300 homes for sale. Last year at the same time there were over 5,000. In a normal market, there’s about 6,000 to 8,000 homes for sale,” he said. “And that just causes multiple buyers per property.”

For some, the swelling market has made their dreams of buying a single-family detached home unaffordable, particularly for first-time homebuyers such as San Diego resident John Gaxiola.

“My fiancée and I were looking at buying a single-family home, but it is way, way too competitive,” Gaxiola said. “So we actually talked to our lender and then we looked at options for multi-family homes. So I think we are going to go that route.”

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Gaxiola said much of the competition in the housing market were multi-property buyers.

“I would say about 40 to 50% of the people that we’ve noticed that outbid us are not from here," he said. "If they are from here, they’re investors with big pockets. So for people like us, first-time homebuyers, it's pretty competitive.”

But for those who can afford the sky-high prices, Lepe said supply is in such short demand that forgoing appraisal contingencies and bidding wars have become commonplace.

That means homes in San Diego have recently been selling well above the asking price, especially in North County.

“North County, you know it starts at $50,000 and it goes up to $150,000 [higher than appraisal]," Lepe said. "North County, it's very competitive and the difference between what it's worth and what people are paying for it is higher.”

RELATED: Housing Prices Surge Across San Diego County, California

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In April, California home sales increased for the third consecutive month and have risen over 65% from a year ago, while the median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home hit a record low of just 7 days.

Lepe said he expects home prices in the region to continue to increase throughout the rest of 2021 as long as the federal government keeps interest rates low.