High Desert

How about moving to the High Desert? It’s close enough to San Diego that you could re-visit when necessary, and once we get self-driving cars, you could commute!  Here’s a link to the 67 homes for sale in Joshua Tree today:


Here’s a link to homes for sale under $620,000 in Yucca Valley, which is 27 miles north of Palm Springs and has a population of 22,000+ people at 3,369ft elevation:


Thanks to the latimes.com:

Trading big city for high desert

YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. — Tyler Gaul strode across the sprawling backyard of his Yucca Valley home and surveyed the rocky hillside a few steps away from the pool and basketball court that sit atop his 2-acre property.

When he first moved to the desert from Los Angeles last fall, this jagged landscape granted him a sense of serenity as the crowded city he left behind grappled with a pandemic.
Gaul, who runs his own skin care company, knew it was time to move when he could no longer exercise outside his Echo Park apartment — his respite from stay-at-home orders — because of wildfire smoke polluting the air. Constant and worsening wildfires, paired with a public health crisis, proved to be too much.

“I have a lung condition, and I was like, ‘No, I can’t do this anymore,’ ” he recalled.

So he set out for the desert.

Like many other city dwellers who have fled urban sprawl over the last year and a half, Gaul sought shelter in a more isolated desert community in hopes of finding more space and clean air, and limiting his exposure to the coronavirus. Local real estate agents say that the migration is driven by a desire for affordable housing and large plots of land, a move further propelled by the nation’s sudden shift toward teleworking.

Until last year, Gaul hadn’t seen himself as the desert type or thought of making an escape from the city. But since moving, he and his girlfriend have hosted pool parties for their friends living in the city; they’ve learned how to tackle home repairs, like the time there was an irrigation leak; they stood in stillness during their first desert winter and listened as the sound of snow falling off trees pelted the craggy ground below.

“One day, we were in the pool and there was this huge owl, and it just like swept down and looked like a huge, silent airplane. It was just, like, so majestic,” Gaul, 35, said as he lifted a plastic cover to check for a tarantula that had recently been roaming the side of his home.

The high desert communities of Yucca Valley, Pioneertown and Joshua Tree about 130 miles east of Los Angeles have been inundated not only with new home buyers but also renters and city folk who come to work remotely at one of the many Airbnbs that have cropped up in recent years — sometimes to the chagrin of locals who could live without hearing the loud parties, or driving through the dust kicked up by Teslas plowing through dirt roads in a rush that those used to a slower pace of life have trouble understanding.

“It feels like the zeitgeist of the desert,” said Tom Murtagh, a Realtor in Twentynine Palms. “It’s a time of change. A lot of people here are having a tough time with it and I am very sympathetic. It’s a tough situation — gentrification reached the desert and it’s good and bad. There’s money to fix things, but it’s a double-edged sword.”

Although the pandemic accelerated migration to the high desert, the shift was gaining steam in the years before.

Jean Michel Alperin moved to Yucca Valley with his family in 2018. He and his wife, Sarah Scott Alperin, were disappointed with the lack of options in their price range in L.A. despite looking at homes in neighborhoods across the city. Jean Michel was on the brink of helping to revitalize and reopen Pioneertown’s Red Dog Saloon and had pondered making the commute to the desert a few days a week for work.

“While I was doing business here for a couple days I decided to see Realtors. We saw four places, and the fourth was the home that we bought. It was one of those dream homes. It seduced me in this very intimate way. Kind of like when you meet somebody, it was a romance,” Alperin, 40, said. “It was a total about-face. And it was tough, for sure. There’s a lot of differences moving from Echo Park to Yucca.”

Alperin said that he doesn’t necessarily miss the people he could meet in L.A. — he’s bonded with other transplants from Echo Park here in the desert — but he does miss the wealth of cafes filled with people poring over books.

“That’s kind of the feeling, that there’s just one place. You don’t have options,” he said. “But that’s part of coming out here. We’re all kind of frontier people.”


Carlsbad Custom

The developer sold these last five lots separately so buyers could build their dream home. Here’s a custom 2,143sf one-story house overlooking the lagoon that’s priced at $2,388,000. It fell out of escrow once, and went right back in – currently pending:

More Appreciation in 2021?

People are leery when the squid speaks, but they could be right about additional price gains in 4Q21.

Here’s why:

  1. We had a 15% increase in the NSDCC median sales price between September, 2020 and January.
  2. There will be fewer sales this year, which typically provides more volatility.
  3. Frustrated buyers will pass on the fixers, and wait ’til next year instead.
  4. With the sales mix having a bigger percentage of superior homes, pricing should get a boost.

My #1 reason?  We’ve experienced intense frenzy conditions, and it has gotten to the point where the comps don’t seem to matter any more. Buyers just want a house, and they will pay whatever it takes!

Showings Are Flat

It looks like the California showings are reflecting the lack of new listings coming to market.

For the last few months, it has felt like January (which is what this graph is indicating). Not many decent listings to consider, at any price – and hopes for something to change soon!

Foreclosures Surging?

The post-frenzy headlines will revert back to their usual negative slant.

Will home buyers read the entire article? Or jump to their own conclusions?

Here are the actual numbers mentioned:

States with the largest number of new foreclosures were:

    • California: 3,434
    • Texas: 2,827
    • Florida: 2,546
    • New York: 1,363
    • Illinois: 1,362

“Despite the increased level of foreclosure activity in September, we’re still far below historically normal numbers,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an ATTOM company.

September foreclosure actions were almost 70% lower than they were pre-pandemic. Total foreclosure activity is also still 60% lower than it was a year ago.

“I think the ‘forbearance cliff’ will be minimal,” said David Stevens, former CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association and former FHA commissioner in the Obama administration.

“Unlike the Great Recession where home prices dropped approximately 20% from peak to trough, this recession saw home values rise by roughly the same amount. So while we should see some foreclosures, the likelihood is that there will be far fewer from a percentage basis due to the ability to sell a home versus default, or stay in the home due to far better workout options and higher re-employment.”

Link to Article

In a state of 40 million people, I don’t think anyone in California should get nervous over an additional 3,434 foreclosures filed (not completed).  It’s different now that the Homeowners Bill of Rights was made law in this state, and anyone who gets foreclosed must want to lose their house, and their equity.

Or be a guy like this (hat tip Richard):

Bay Area Exodus

The San Diego housing market is a popular choice for those who are leaving the Bay Area (population of 6,404,512 in the five counties). It’s looks like more are coming – a report from sfgate:

Joint Venture Silicon Valley, in partnership with the Bay Area News Group, polled 1,610 registered voters across five Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

A shocking 71% of respondents said the quality of life in the greater Bay Area is worse now compared to five years ago. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they are considering leaving in the next five years — including 53% of respondents who work in the tech sector.

“It’s the cost of living, high housing costs. I think that is the dominant thing. It’s housing housing housing,” said Russell Hancock, President and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, in a press briefing. “…That is driving almost all of the results.”

Hancock said the 53% figure is the highest percentage of people who have said they want to leave the Bay Area compared to previous polls conducted outside of Joint Venture.

Indeed, an overwhelming majority of respondents said it’s high housing costs (77%) and cost of living (84%) spurring their desire to seek out greener pastures. Homelessness, wildfires and drought were also issues respondents considered when mulling the decision to leave the Bay Area.

“We’ve long been a high-stress region. Staggering housing prices, rising homelessness, a stark income divide and a host of sustainability challenges have had us on edge for some time,” Hancock writes in the introduction to the poll. “But when you toss a highly infectious disease into the mix you get a smothering amount of anxiety.”

But as Hancock noted, these feelings go beyond the pandemic and its challenges.

“We’re split (48% to 52%) on whether the Bay Area is headed in the right direction,” he said.

The poll paints a disturbing picture of life in the Bay Area, but it’s not all doom and gloom. About 65% of respondents said “they feel a strong sense of belonging to the Bay Area” — even more so than they feel connected to their neighborhood and city. Many (66%) applauded their employers’ response to the pandemic and now feel differently about their work-life balance.

As Hancock pointed out in the briefing, polls “tell us how people are thinking. And that’s worth knowing.”

“Perception,” he added, “is also a form of reality.”

Link to Article

If there were 56% of their population who left, it would equal 3,586,526 people – which would create a whole new experience for those who stay!  But we know that talk is cheap, and once all the other variables are considered, most people don’t move.

But we’ll probably get a steady flow for the foreseeable future.

Frenzy Volume

Rob Dawg suggested that the total volume of the frenzy must be remarkable.

Both sales and pricing are higher, and the higher-end markets have never had it so good.

NSDCC Total Sales Volume, First Three Quarters of the Year

# of Sales Under $2M
Dollar Volume
# of Sales Over $2M
Dollar Volume

Remarkable indeed! The affluent have commandeered the market.

Contractors are Busy!

For those who are thinking of selling next year and plan to do some improvements, don’t wait to begin.

In fact, start today!

Yesterday, I contacted three different flooring contractors, and all were booked into December.  Our GC is currently booked for two months, our pool-repair guy has work scheduled for the next FIVE MONTHS, and our plumber gave up and suggested that we find someone else.

If you want us to provide an initial consultation and give opinions of what repairs/improvements would be smart to complete prior to selling, feel free to contact us – now. We can call in favors if needed – the pool guy got started within two weeks!

It made me wonder how many homeowners were in the hunt for a new house over the last 1-2 years, and have since given up on moving and decided to remodel instead.

No matter how small the percentage, it means the demand for homes for sale will be increasingly more dependent upon the out-of-towners who don’t have a house here yet.  Their desperation level is higher than our current homeowners here who are comparing to what they already own……and who are finding it more difficult every day to justify a move.



More slides from the C.A.R. forecast:

They are forecasting a 5.2% YoY drop in sales in 2022, after we will likely set the all-time record for sales here in 2021.  They are probably considering the slowdown in pending sales:


They also showed how 70% of the business is done by 30% of the realtors….and the rest of the agents are barely in business with less than two sales per year:

Get Good Help!

C.A.R. Forecast 2022

The association is predicting that home sales in California will drop next year, but has a typical guess for the statewide median sales price – expecting a 5.2% rise in 2022:


Their predictions for this year were terrible – they thought pricing would go nearly flat in 2021 (in red box), and instead we had the biggest gain ever (p is projected):


These were my guesses for this year:


  1. We will have 10% more NSDCC listings than we had in 2020.
  2. We will have 10% more sales.
  3. We will have a 10% increase in the NSDCC median sales price.

Here’s how this year looks through the first three quarters of 2021:

# of Listings (%YoY)
# of Sales (%YoY)
Median Sales Price (%YoY)
3,677 (-7%)
2,207 (+3%)
$1,424,000 (+8%)
3,078 (-16%)
2,535 (+15%)
$1,880,000 (+32%)

NSDCC inventory DROPPED 16%, yet sales ROSE 15% this year!  Pricing is +32%!

A graph showing how more people need to leave town to make it worth moving:

A CAR consumer survey showed, for example, that 35% of home sellers are moving out of state and fewer than 15% were moving to a home in the same county as their last residence. “I think that pressure to migrate out of the state is going to be just as strong, if not stronger, as housing, affordability gets worse,” CAR Chief Economist Jordan Levine said. “I think that this is a housing-driven phenomenon, and we don’t have a lot of relief in terms of housing affordability.”

Pin It on Pinterest