From the U-T:

San Diego County has very little chance of a big housing downturn but also isn’t exactly the most secure market in the nation, according to a new report.

Out of 580 counties, San Diego County was the No. 180 most likely to experience a downturn, said a study from Irvine-based real estate researchers Attom. It used a variety of factors to determine the rankings, including foreclosures, percentage of homes underwater, income-to-cost ratio and local unemployment numbers.

The counties with the biggest chance of a downturn were in inland California and areas around Chicago and New York City. San Joaquin County, home to cities Stockton and Lodi, was considered the most likely spot in the nation for a downturn, Attom said. In that area of California at the end of 2023, it took 65 percent of income to pay for a home, unemployment was among the highest in the state at 6.4 percent, 7.5 percent of buyers were in homes that cost more than they were now worth and other factors.

Broken down by the 20 most-populated counties, San Diego County ranked 12th most likely for a downturn. Kings County, home to Brooklyn, was most likely and Miami-Dade County the least likely.

Here’s how San Diego County compared to the rest of the nation:


Attom said in the fourth quarter of 2023, it took 75 percent of a San Diego County buyer’s income to afford payments on the median home price of $845,000. That was the fifth-highest out of the 20 most populated counties.

Kings County, which includes Brooklyn, took 114 percent of income to afford the median-priced home — the highest, by far, in the nation — of $977,520. It was followed by Orange County in Southern California (98.9 percent), Alameda County (81 percent) and Queens, New York (80.8 percent).

Out of the nation’s biggest counties, Detroit had the best affordability, with 16 percent of income required for the median price of $156,500. Other more affordable markets were Harris County, home to Houston, at 25.7 percent, and Cook County, home to Chicago, at 26.3 percent. Attom calculates income payments by looking at mortgage payments, homeowners insurance and property taxes that the typical buyer would need to make on a monthly payment. It assumes at least a 3 percent down payment.

Underwater properties

In the fourth quarter, 2.5 percent of homes in San Diego County were underwater, meaning about 16,000 properties had mortgages with a higher principal than their homes were worth. San Diego County’s underwater rate was one of the lowest in the nation, according to Attom.

Chicago’s Cook County had 15 percent of homes underwater. It was followed by Detroit (Wayne County) with 8.2 percent of homes underwater and San Antonio (Bexar County) with 6.5 percent.


Foreclosures are not a big factor across the nation, unlike during the Great Recession. Attom said 0.07 percent of U.S. homes were in foreclosure in the fourth quarter. Considering home prices have risen considerably over the past few years, it makes it unlikely someone would lose a home before getting the chance to sell it. However, it still happens for a variety of reasons.

Mark Goldman, a San Diego loan officer and real estate analyst, said a foreclosure in this market typically comes down to inaction by an owner. He said he’s seen owners after the death of a family member, such as the main income earner, fall into fear and fail to take action.

While it would make sense to sell, the person might be distressed enough to ignore foreclosure notices. Another scenario, although rare, is when a homeowner dies and the person who inherits the property is not aware enough about the local market to know to put it up for sale or might have lost track of what properties they now own.

“The lender is not going to care about searching them out,” Goldman said. “The lender is going to care if they get their payment this month.”

In the last three months of 2023, San Diego County had 586 foreclosures, or 0.05 percent of all properties. It was one of the lowest percentages in the nation. Of the biggest markets, Santa Clara County — home to San Jose and Silicon Valley — had the lowest foreclosure rate at 0.03 percent of homes. The highest was Broward County in Florida, which includes Fort Lauderdale and part of the Miami metro area, at 13 percent.

Unemployment rate

San Diego County’s unemployment rate in the fourth quarter averaged 4.2 percent, a bit higher than some of the biggest markets but not high enough to significantly factor into Attom’s ranking as a market for a likely downturn. The highest of the 20 largest counties were Clark County (Las Vegas), Kings County (Brooklyn), and Riverside County, all at 5.1 percent. Miami-Dade County had the lowest at 1.4 percent. Looking at the entire U.S., nearby Imperial County had the highest unemployment rate at 18.9 percent. The lowest was Cass County, North Dakota, (Fargo) and Carroll County, Maryland, (Baltimore) both at 1.3 percent.

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