A study released last week by the California Association of Realtors trade group lays bare the facts about how far housing affordability has fallen in the county and throughout the state since prices began to rebound following the market crash of the late 2000s.
The report's takeaways: only 7 of 32 participating counties had a median home price considered affordable to a family making the area's median income. The only Southern California county to make the list was San Bernardino, north of Riverside. Less than one-third of the total available housing, including single-family homes and condominiums, is affordable to someone making more than half of the state's households.
The median income in San Diego used for the report was $61,770, above the statewide figure of $60,240. Local residential units, again including both houses and condos, are selling at a median $475,230; that's roughly $163,000 (or 52 percent) more than the median household can afford.
As of August 25, there were just under 7500 residential properties available through Sandicor, the region's primary property-listing service. Only 744 of those (less than 10 percent) were priced at or below the $312,180 considered affordable to a typical area home buyer.
What does "affordable" mean?
Even the premise of affordability is somewhat skewed — in order to be able to "afford" a home, the study assumes that the typical buyer has a 20 percent down payment (about $62,000 for the San Diego median), has a strong credit history sufficient to qualify for a "prevailing" interest rate, and a lack of household debt sufficient to support budgeting 30 percent of one's pre-tax income for a housing payment.
While most new buyers don't have hefty sums of cash to put down, and some may not have sterling credit histories, purchases are made possible through lending guidelines that allow buyers to budget as much as 45 percent or more of their gross income toward a housing payment, providing a route to take on greater debts than what the housing industry groups consider affordable.
According to data provided by real estate tracking firm Core Logic, nearly 2800 single-family home sales in July closed at an average sales price of $520,000, a 6 percent rise from July 2014; 1355 condos sold last month at an average $362,000, up more than 8 percent from a year ago.