When Will the San Diego Housing Bubble Pop?
Three local experts weigh in on what to expect, how to prepare—and why waiting for the next downturn to buy is not an option
Illustration by Libby Burns
“When we talk about when will it happen, we’re talking about something that makes economists, lenders, and consumer confidence uncomfortable—a war, the stock market, a tweet. But in San Diego, we’re already closer to the Santa Barbara effect of just being a very expensive coastal community. Housing prices and rents are going to be relatively stable, and vacancy rates extremely low. What it would take to have a major impact is to have major employers close up or a whole defense agency leave. But that’s far-fetched.”
– Nathan Moeder, adjunct professor of economics, UC San Diego and principal, London Moeder Advisors real estate group
“We’re at an all-time high, and there’s such a low inventory. Older people are staying in their houses longer because they don’t have anywhere to go. That’s in the $400,000 to $1.5 million range. Once you get over $2 million, it’s a bit slower. Housing prices are rising and income has not trended the same way, which is a little bit of a concern. A spike in interest rates could hurt the market a little bit.
We’re not past the point of a downturn, but if you sit on the sidelines too much, you could be sitting there for a long time waiting for the crash to happen. I just don’t know if it’s going to come.”
– Drew Lyon, broker/owner, Harcourts Avanti
“Historically, there’s a bubble that pops every 13 years. But in San Diego, it’s its own market. I have buyers tell me, ‘I’m going to wait for the bubble to pop.’ Are you going to be paying cash? Because by that time, interest rates will have gone up, lenders won’t be giving out as many loans, and prices will come down to where they are today—if the bubble pops at all. The market shows neither the valuation nor the behavior of a bubble.
It’s in the seller’s favor, so buyers have to be strategic in who they work with and how they come across. The flip side is that homeowners don’t want to sell, because they don’t have anything to buy.”
– Josh Taylor, realtor, Live. Love. San Diego Homes