Comparing Housing Markets: San Diego

What kind of house can you buy with $206,000 — the national median? In the red-hot San Diego real estate market, you'd be lucky to land a one-bedroom condo for the price of that house in Milwaukee.

Copyright © 2005 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT HORSLEY reporting:

And I'm Scott Horsley in San Diego, which Money magazine has just dubbed `America's scariest housing market.' Home prices here have more than doubled in the last five years, and only about one family in nine can afford the typical home.

I'm here at a real estate office. This happens to be next to my supermarket. I often stop buy and look at some of the nice pictures you have in the window here, and I'm here with Xavier McDonald(ph).

And tell me about some of these homes y'all have listed. This is a nice one here, City Heights, two-bedroom, one bath.

Mr. XAVIER McDONALD (Real Estate Agent): And the price on this home is 385. It would be considered kind of a starter property in that price range. It's kind of hard to find something in that range in San Diego at all, a single-family detached home.

HORSLEY: This is a very nice house here in Normal Heights, three bedrooms, two baths, 1,330 square feet.

Mr. McDONALD: Yes, and that one has a price range of $665,000 to $725,000. And it's at Harley Boulevard(ph).

(Soundbite of Horsley whistling and McDonald chuckling)

Mr. McDONALD: Yeah, that's--and that is in an OK area. It's kind of in-the-city living and it does have a nice fence around it and it has a private, nice, lush backyard.

HORSLEY: Now the national median just in the newspaper of $206,000--what could I get for $206,000?

Mr. McDONALD: You could not get any kind of a single-family home for $206,000. You could get a--you're lucky really--I guess you could get a one-bedroom condo for that price.

(Soundbite of door opening)

HORSLEY: After talking with Xavier, I visited a one-bedroom condominium in the central part of San Diego. And I'm here with Cynthia Peterson, the sales manager.

Ms. CYNTHIA PETERSON (Condo Sales Manager): Hi.

HORSLEY: This is being offered in what you call a value range.

Ms. PETERSON: Correct, and that's--this unit is 199 to 210.

HORSLEY: And this is a--What is it?--560 square feet?

Ms. PETERSON: Yes. It's definitely cozy but for a lot of, like, single professionals, they feel happy and comfortable here.

HORSLEY: One thing about a smaller place, you don't wind up spending a lot of money on furniture.

Ms. PETERSON: That's for sure, yeah. You don't want to have a lot of clutter around so--yeah, I find a lot of people when they're moving in are, you know, using the dumpsters to throw stuff. Really it makes you value your space and do-I-really-want-to-keep-this sort of mentality, so that's good.

HORSLEY: This is one unit out of seven in the complex. How are they selling?

Ms. PETERSON: Well, they're all sold except for this one, so they're selling great.

HORSLEY: A condo might be more affordable, but suppose you're determined to have a single-family house. Here on the outskirts of San Diego, about 20 miles from town, I did find one--three bedrooms, two baths--for the remarkable price of just under $208,000. But there's a catch. That price does not include the land. So in addition to your mortgage, you also have a monthly lease payment of $620. Still, a man's home is his castle, even if someone else owns the ground underneath it.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, San Diego.

MONTAGNE: From NPR News, this is MORNING EDITION.

(Credits)

MONTAGNE: I'm Renee Montagne.

Copyright © 2005 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.