From the

Last month was the busiest month for San Diego County homebuying since 2006, while home prices continue to hold at four-year highs, Thursday’s DataQuick report shows.

The county in August recorded 3,981 residential sales, the highest level since 4,533 sold in June 2006. Sales in Southern California hit the same milestone, driven by near-record activity among investors and cash buyers as well as as low mortgage rates, DataQuick analysts say.

“August was the strongest month for home sales so far this year, and the strongest for an August in six years,” said DataQuick President John Walsh in a statement. “That’s really saying something given the drop in low-end sales, especially foreclosure resales. Much of the pickup in activity reflects a continuation of trends we’ve seen for months, like the unleashing of pent-up demand in move-up markets and high levels of cash and investor buying.”

Prices locally also continued to chug ahead. The median home price for all homes sold in August was $345,250, a four-year high  (the median price clocked in at $350,000 in August 2008). August’s median price changed 1 percent from July’s and nearly 8 percent year-over-year.

Right now, there are 5,589 active home listings in San Diego County, roughly 50 percent lower than the same time a year ago, based on figures from the San Diego Association of Realtors.

The marked drop in the number of homes on the market coupled with the increase in the share of investment buyers have proven to be challenges for people like the de Violinis, house hunters from Chula Vista.

Throw in the increasing presence of cash offers, and things start getting really complicated for buyers who would need financing. In San Diego County, 32.6% of all homes sold in August were bought with cash. That share is near the all-time peak of 33.5 percent recorded in May.

“We’ve put in some offers,” said Robert de Violini, who’s been looking to buy a home with wife, Karen. “”In one case, we were beat by someone who put more than 40 percent down … I said, ‘What? Whoa.’…A couple of times there were multiple offers. A couple of times there were cash offers. It’s hard to beat a cash offer.”

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Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

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