Home sold in Encinitas
A newly sold home in Encinitas. REUTERS/Mike Blake

There are lots of residential real estate trends in the news of late, so let’s get right to it.

Residential real estate franchise operator Re/Max says the seasonal ramp-up to a summer homebuying season didn’t occur in April as closings dropped 7.6% in 49 metro areas, including San Diego. However, that drop was even more dramatic here, where closings were off 34% in April compared to year-ago numbers.

That dubious achievement put us in the top five areas nationally where closings have slipped dramatically from April of last year. Seattle, by the way, had the biggest plunge with a 39% change.

In San Diego, the number of new listings in April totaled 2,444 compared to the year-ago number of 3, 712.

The news came as the national median sales price rose 2.3% to $409,000 month-over-month. Inventory inched up 1.8%.

Home sales usually increase from February to June, according to Re/Max. But April posted a decline despite a month-over-month increase in new listings of 5.6%. Year-over-year, April sales were down 29.5% while new listings were 22.1% lower.

“The data tells … just one side of the story,” said Re/Max executive Nick Bailey in a news release. “Sales may be down as move-up buyers, who like their current mortgage rate, choose to stay in their homes. But first-time buyers are active—(they) have an edge as sellers negotiate more and give buyers a chance.”

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Meanwhile, home prices in San Diego rose above $800,000 in April, according to a report released last week by the California Association of Realtors, or CAR, a statewide group that represents residential real estate professionals. The median sales tag for a single-family home in the city was $815,000, up 3% from March and down nearly 8% from a year ago.

The increase in home prices in San Diego comes despite a decline in sales, the CAR report found. The number of homes sold in the city fell nearly 5% in April from March and 36% from a year ago.

The decline could be because of a number of factors, the report said, including steeper mortgage rates and a shortage of homes for sale. Despite the decline in sales, the bump up in home prices in San Diego indicates that the city’s housing market remains strong.

There is a silver lining in an otherwise gray cloud. With home sales taking a deep plunge, affordability improved in the first quarter of 2023, according to a report from the California Association of Realtors.

The report found that 20% of San Diego households could afford to purchase a median-priced home in the first quarter of 2023, up from 17% in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The affordability of housing in San Diego is still below the national average of 40%. However, the improvement in affordability in the first quarter is an encouraging signal for homebuyers in the city.

The CAR report attributed the dump in affordability to lower sale prices and interest rates. Despite the jump in affordability, home, prices in San Diego remain high. The median home price in San Diego is still more than double the national median price of $371,200.

CAR predicts that overall affordability here will continue to improve in the coming quarters. But buying a home remains a challenge for many households in San Diego.

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Wells Fargo Bank economist Charles Dougherty predicted a “mild recession” at the end of the year, according to comments presented at a recent summit of business and political bigwigs in North County.

Dougherty, the lead speaker at the summit in Escondido, discussed the potential impacts of recent interest rate increases on the local economy by the Federal Reserve, including a possible increase in the jobless rate. He projected a downturn later this year 2023.

In addition, Josh Williams, a researcher at North County Economic Development Council, which sponsored the event, spoke about the fallout a slowdown in economic activity might have on the region. He said the area represents one-third of the county population—and 40% of the regional economy.

He outlined a number of “core challenges, including the transition to a decarbonized economy, infrastructure development, and ensuring shared prosperity,”

“Mr. Dougherty’s expertise and comprehensive analysis provided invaluable insights into the potential economic challenges we may face,” said W. Erik Bruvold, who leads the economic development agency. “His quote reminds us of the importance of being prepared and leveraging our strengths to navigate through turbulent times.”

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Local building construction manager Gafcon hired real estate expert Alan Nevin to direct its economic consulting group. Nevin said he will continue his consulting practice and advisory work on various projects across the U.S.

Nevin co-founded four firms that developed more than three dozen building projects here valued at more than $250 million, according to the release.

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Noted in passing…. High-profile Escondido small business coach Ken Blanchard has changed the name of his business to Blanchard. “This rebrand is not a departure from who we are, but a reflection of who we’ve become in powering the leaders our future will rely on,” said Blanchard in a news release.

He rose to fame—and presumably fortune—after publishing his first book, “The One-Minute Manager,” in the early 1980s. Two million copies are in print, making it one of the best-selling self-help business books ever published.

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San Diego outdoor shopping center Westfield UTC welcomes Carlsbad-based maker of high-performance sportswear and training apparel ASRV to its list of retailers. 

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Finally, this tasty little item of note. Fisher’s Group, a seafood restaurant chain with 31 locations worldwide, has opened its first US location in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.

The restaurant, which occupies 8,700 square feet in the 500 block of West Beech Street, features an oyster and seafood bar, with a wide selection of fresh shellfish, according to a publicist.

Follow the link to check out the menu and operating hours.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.