From Eric at the

As the national housing market continued to languish, San Diego County values rose 10.8 percent in March compared with 12 months earlier, as a smaller number of buyers chased deals on the most expensive homes, according to the latest update of Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Since house prices bottomed out in March 2009, the county’s prices have taken a Super Ball-like rebound. Much of that bounce came from a frenzied market of investors and first-time homebuyers looking to buy the cheapest homes, while more expensive homes languished.

But the activity in March flipped that trend on its head: Homes priced under $311,200 fell 0.5 percent, the first monthly drop since May, though still up 11.3 percent since the previous March. Meanwhile, homes priced above $465,686 rose 2.9 percent in March from February, up 7.7 percent from the previous year.

The number of sales recorded in the index fell to 3,192, the seventh consecutive monthly decline, off a third since its last high, in August.

“I think buyers come into the market looking for a great deal, and realize that there are very few,” said Carlsbad real estate Jim Klinge in an e-mail. “The ‘steals’ tend to be extremely elusive due to multiple offers and agent shenanigans, and as a result, the buyers’ focus shifts to making a quality buy that fits most of their needs well.”

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