New homes under construction in Carlsbad. REUTERS / Mike Blake
New homes under construction in Carlsbad. REUTERS / Mike Blake

An improving California economy is making it harder and harder to find starter homes in San Diego, according to a report released Monday.

Trulia, an online real estate marketplace, said the inventory of starter homes in SanDiego has fallen 80 percent over four years, from 4,415 in the first quarter of 2012 to 864 in the first quarter of 2016

“Strong job growth, tight inventory and rising prices in California have led to the largest drop in starter-home affordability in the nation,” Trulia said.

San Diego was one of the five markets with the largest drop in starter homes. The others were Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Austin and Nashville.

Nationally, starter and what Trulia called “trade-up” home inventory is down more than 40 percent since 2012.

“Buyers are increasingly looking down the housing ladder,” Trulia said. “Trade-up buyers are turning their attention to smaller, less expensive homes in the starter home category, thus inflating prices past what’s affordable for true starter-home buyers.”

The result, said Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin, is a kind of “homebuyer gridlock”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.