'Move-up' buyers drive San Diego housing

Home sales and prices are rising nearly in sync in San Diego, even as the number of homes for sale shrinks.

That is all thanks to a resurgence of the move-up buyer, who had been stuck in place throughout the recession. San Diego's growing economy and job market are fueling the strength. The only thing holding it back is supply.

"While it's a welcomed sign to see the growth in housing demand continue, the lack of supply remains a concern," said the California Association of Realtors' chief economist, Leslie Appleton-Young. "The imbalance between the two sides not only intensifies market competition and pushes home prices higher, but also leads to housing affordability issues that could ultimately lower the homeownership rate if the problem persists."

Suburban sprawl in San Diego.
Travis Payne | Getty Images
Suburban sprawl in San Diego.

San Diego sales rose 9.3 percent in April from a year ago, according to CAR. The median home price, at $530,810, was 7.9 percent higher than a year ago. This as supply fell 16 percent.

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"Some are saying that baby boomers, who normally would be moving, are staying in their homes when they would typically be downsizing," said Geoffrey Schiering, a Realtor with The San Diego Realty Pros at Big Block Realty. He also points to move-up buyers back in motion again.

"There were a lot of people waiting for their equity to rebound, so we're starting to see more move-up buyers. The entry level is selling particularly quickly," added Schiering.

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As more homeowners move up, that may be increasing the supply of lower-priced homes for those entry-level buyers Home construction in San Diego is still far lower than where it was even before the housing boom. High prices for land and labor are constraining homebuilders.