Home Values in SoCal: April 2009

Home prices in the greater SoCal region continue to decline, though the declines are slowing. Finally! Some counties are hit harder than others, of course, with San Bernardino and Riverside leading the way as they have throughout this ordeal. The good news is that home sales of these now-bargain homes are increasing during these spring months,  traditionally the  most active of the year.

So, let’s see, what’s the bad news in San Bernardino? It’s a massive 45% decline to median $135,000 over last April when prices had already been plummeting for six months. Some San Bernardino City ZIP codes are down over 60%, approaching 70% in one year. This is truly horrendous for the homeowners involved. In the six San Bernardino City ZIPs, only one median value is above $100,000 [$123,000 in 92407]. Other hard-hit areas include the high desert cities of Hesperia [down 53% to $89,000 in 92345], Lucerne Valley [down 62% to median $67,000], Apple Valley [down 50% to $100,000 in 92308], Victorville [down 58% in 92395 to $84,000 median, both others down 48% to just over $110,000 median] and Barstow [down 68% to $48,000 median]. These prices are so low, they are undoubtedly below replacement costs in many areas, clearly unsustainable.

Down in the basin, other San Bernardino County cities are also devastated. Fontana is down 50% in 92335 to a median of $127,000, though its other ZIPs are not so hard hit [92336 down 23% to $262,000 and 92337 down 27% to median $192,000. Rialto is down 45% to a median of $116,000 in one ZIP and down 28% to $195,000 in the other.

A few cities have escaped the worst, so far at least. Upland, an upscale suburb close to L. A. County is down around 23% to a median of $434,000 in 91784 and $270,000 in 91786. Chino Hills, another upscale community, is down 14% to median $400,000 while Chino is down 30% to a median $301,000. The City of Ontario is down about 35% overall to a median of about $200,000.

CA beaches


And, what of pricey Orange County, what has happened there? As expected, the devastation there is less with a countywide drop of 23% to a median $430,000 since last April. In fact, many cities in Orange County have done much better than that. Most of the beach cities either didn’t have enough sales to count or did fairly well. Capistrano Beach with a few sales is up significantly.Huntington Beach stayed the same as last year in 92646 [median $580,000] and lost 13% in 92647 [median $450,000]. San Juan Capistrano is up 8% to a median $527,000 while, perhaps surprisingly, Laguna Beach is down 31% to a median $1,160,000, still pretty pricey by our new standards. Newport Beach, too, lost value [79% down in 92661, 59% down in 92663 and 47% down in Newport Coast] but all ZIPs maintain medians well over a million.

So, what cities did reasonably well? Irvine, for one, the family-friendly city either stayed the same of slipped considerably less than the county median but in all ZIPs values are over $600,000..these days–not too shabby. Laguna Hills jumped up 28% to a median of $655,000. In general, the drop in values has hit Orange County, but the strike is much less severe than to its neighbors Riverside, San Bernardino and even L.A. County.

Santa Barbara, devastated by fires in the last six months, has also lost 24% of its home values county-wide. Interior cities like Buelleton [down 39% to $440,00], Guadalupe [down 33% to $120,000], Santa Ynez [down 53% to a median $551,000 with very few sales counted] and Santa Maria. Summerland is actually up 10% to $1,375,000 and most of Santa Barbara city is down as well, though its lowest median is $540,000 [93101] while 93103 is up 60% to a median of $1.5 million and 93110 is up 15% to just over $1 mil. 93108 still maintains a median $2.4 mil despite a 16% drop in value.

As we have noted previously, more expensive homes have not really suffered the tremendous drops mainly because more affluent home owners can hang on longer and do not put their homes on the market. As time marches on, however, this will change and even more expensive homes will come on the market, including as foreclosures and short sales, forcing prices lower.

San Bernardino County: Prices Plummet

Falling prices are hardly news anymore, yet San Bernardino County is a special case: the Sick One of SoCal. According to MDA DataQuick, prices have sunk 38% from September 2007 to 2008, bottoming out to a median of $194,000 countywide. It’s been many years since would-be home buyers have had such wonderful bargains to choose from….

Some areas are hit even harder, of course, following the pattern in all other  SoCal counties. San Bernardino city itself is down over 60% in two ZIP codes [92408,92410] to medians not seen in years–less than $100,000. Other city ZIPs are hardly much better, down 56% [92405], 55% [92411] then 48% [92404] and 44% [92407]. The highest median value for the city is $133,000. Again, these are prices not seen in literally years.

The High Desert has also been smacked down by the housing crisis. Victorville is down 44% to a median value of $150,000. Hesperia is down 45% to a median of $175,000. Apple Valley is down 44% to $147,000. These are parts of the county where, until recently, new home builders could offer reasonably priced homes for commuters to L.A. County.  Rising foreclosure rates coupled with rising gas prices mean that commuters will choose homes closer to work if at all possible.

And, increasingly, it is possible. Fontana now offers its median-priced homes at around $275,000, a 38% drop over last year. For years Fontana has provided a  wide variety of new homes and new home prices.  Buying in the last few years, especially buying a new home, frequently means foreclosures today. New home builders are packing up their operations and licking their wounds if they survive at all.

Rancho Cucamonga, growing at a breakneck pace, and, until this year, the jewel of western San Bernardino County, has been hit hard by the crisis. Rancho, like Fontana,  boasts many communities of new homes which are the first to go “under water” and succomb to the tsunami of foreclosures. Rancho is a large city and some ZIPs are better off than others. 91701 has dropped a mere 21% from last year to a median of $368,000 while 91737 has sunk 52% to a median of $380,000. 91739 is skating along at a mere 6% drop to a median of $480,000.  Many new homes in Rancho  sold for over $700,000 last year or the year before are now close to or below the $400,000 mark.

Even established Upland is not immune. In one ZIP [91784] a median of $510,000 represents a drop of 12% over last year. While the other ZIP [91726] has sunk 27% to a median of $320,000.Prestigious Chino Hills has not escaped either: down 21% from last year to a median of $440,000.

Rounding out the line-up is Ontario, another large city. Like other working-class areas, Ontario has suffered more than others: down 33%, 37% and 44% [91761, 91762, 91764] to medians of $276,000, $260,000, and $222,000.

Where Are Those REPOs?

For Southern Californians, the short answer: right where you live.

In the San Gabriel Valley, homes which are REOs, short pays, NODs, short sales or corporate owned are everywhere. In fact, at this point, they are the only properties selling and often even these bargain properties offered far below the prices they sold for just one or two years ago are on the market 100 days or more.

Just where are these properties? Here’s a short list compiled in haste from the Multiple Listing Service [MLS] access to which I offer on my website www.DianeButler.net.

City Properties Range
Arcadia 12 $450000-$1,500,000
Azusa 70 $179,900-$914,900
Claremont 15 $249,000-$579,000
Covina 77 $215,000-$675,000
Duarte 22 $261,000-$610,000
Glendora 17 $300,000-$855,000
La Verne 17 $212,500-$749,000
Monrovia 23 $320,000-$649,000
Pasadena 77 $185,000-$790,000
Rancho Cucamonga >319 $105,000-$1,290,000
San Dimas 15 $330,000-$1,400,000
Sierra Madre 1 $358000
Upland 88 $135,000-$999,900

Look at those prices!

These are amazing prices that we haven’t seen in this area for literally years. $105,000? Wow! Many of the cheapest listed here are one-bedroom condos, but, still, a year ago even they were commanding prices over $200,000 or $300,000 pretty much everywhere.

Pasadena ,by far the largest city, so has a very large number of foreclosures. That $185,000, by the way, is a studio. Still. Rancho is also a large city, but 319? That is what it is like in San Bernardino/Riverside County, as delineated here previously. To my mind, some of the most undervalued homes and so the best deals are in Covina which with 77 repos is out of step with the other foothill communities. Azusa is another surprise.

Most of the repos concentrate at the lower end, but there are some truly beautiful homes in the mix, many with 5 bedrooms and commanding views of the valley. Despite these prices, however, many of these homes listed at seemingly rock-bottom prices are not selling.

Right now is a fabulous time to buy. Among these repos are some fantastic values which will not get any better. Like anything else, the buyer who gets the great deal needs to do his homework and plod through those 319 listings in Rancho to find the real gems.