~Welcome to the Econo-Almanac~

I started this website in mid-2004 to chronicle San Diego’s spectacular housing bubble.  The purpose of the site remains, as ever, to provide objective and evidence-based analysis of the San Diego housing market. A quick guide to the site follows:

  • New visitors are advised to begin with the Bubble Primer or (if wondering about the site name) the FAQ list.
  • Housing articles I’ve written are found in the main section below.
  • Discussion topics posted by site users are found in the “Active Forum Topics” box to the lower right.
  • This website is an avocation; by day I help people with their investments as a financial advisor*.  Market commentary and more can be found on my firm's website.

Thanks for stopping by…

San Diego's Job Recovery Strengthens

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 16, 2011 - 10:28am
March was good to San Diego's job market, according to the Employment Development Department's latest estimates. 

San Diego employment was estimated to have risen by .8 percent for the month, which the following chart shows is actually fairly brisk for recent times:



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

(category: )

March 2011 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 12, 2011 - 9:56am
The median price per square foot for San Diego homes rose for the second time in a row in March.  This price measure was up .3% for detached homes, 4.8% for attached homes, and 1.6% in aggregate.  The detached home series is the most reliable of the three, so any actual price increases were probably muted -- nonetheless, prices look to have increased for a second month in a row.



(category: )

Across-the-Board Declines in January's Case-Shiller Index

Submitted by Rich Toscano on April 7, 2011 - 10:10am
As always, the Case-Shiller index of home prices arrives with a fairly major lag... 



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org


(category: )

Employment Improves in the New Year

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 28, 2011 - 1:36pm
Because the January and February job numbers were released so close together, I decided to just cover them both in one update.  I'm going to jump right in with the seasonally adjusted data, because unadjusted January employment is always very distorted due to temporary holiday jobs disappearing.

Total seasonally adjusted San Diego employment increased slightly in the two months since December, growing by 5,700 jobs or about .5 percent during that time.



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

(category: )

February 2011 Resale Housing Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on March 17, 2011 - 5:50pm
Last month, the median price per square foot of existing homes sold in San Diego rose notably -- by 2.2 percent for single family homes, 2.5 percent for condos, and 2.4 percent in aggregate:



(category: )

Buy a House Now? It Depends...

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 27, 2011 - 3:31pm
Last week I discussed housing valuations -- how expensive local homes are in comparison to their historical relationship with rents and incomes.  To sum up the conclusions, San Diego homes in aggregate are right in the middle of the valuation range that has prevailed for the past thirty-odd years.  However, due to super-low mortgage rates, monthly payments on San Diego homes are substantially below their typical historical levels.

This article will deal with whether it makes sense, financially speaking, to buy a home in a market characterized by middle-of-the-road prices alongside dirt-cheap monthly payments.
(category: )

Case Shiller Index Declines Slightly in December

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 23, 2011 - 7:55pm
I know I said my next piece would discuss the circumstances in which it makes sense to buy a house.  I need to stop promising that I'll discuss something in the "next" blog entry, because often a quicker and newsier topic intervenes.

In this case that would be the latest release of the Case-Shiller index, which takes place on the last Tuesday of each month.  (Yes, I really should have seen this coming before declaring what the next topic would be).



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

(category: )

Shambling Towards Affordability: Year-End 2010 Edition

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 14, 2011 - 6:32pm
It's time for some valutions.  The charts below show San Diego housing valuation ratios updated through year-end 2010.

Let's start with the price-to-income ratio.  The decline in home prices since the summer brought this ratio back down to 7.6 -- right in the middle of fair value territory per these ratios.  In fact, it's 5% below the median price-to-income ratio over this entire period (which incidentally is 8 on the nose).



(category: )

January 2011 Resale Housing Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 7, 2011 - 8:44pm

Well, it's 2011, and yet I am still lacking the following:
  • laser eyes
  • hyper-evolved glasses-wearing chimp assistant
  • self-aware email client
  • minotaur
  • huffable bacon
  • tank full of precogs to help me match my outfits
Someone please tell science to get on it.  For now, we'll have to make do with the January resale data.

The median price per square foot took a bit of a beating last month: down 3.0 percent for detached homes, 7.2 percent for condos, and 4.5 percent in aggregate:



(category: )

Q&A in the OC Register

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 5, 2011 - 9:40am

At the OC Register, Jon Lansner has put a brief Q&A with me and blogging and the housing market. Perhaps some Piggs will find it interesting:

Blogs keep real estate media honest

(category: )

Case-Shiller Flattened Out in November

Submitted by Rich Toscano on February 1, 2011 - 6:50pm
Just a quick update on the November Case-Shiller numbers.  After the surprisingly abrupt decline in October, the aggregate index flattened out in November:



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

(category: )

Frail Job Market Ends 2010 On an Up Note

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 25, 2011 - 8:58pm
The San Diego job market went more or less nowhere in 2010.

This is clear from the chart below, which measures seasonally-adjusted employment over the past several years.  The year 2010 began on a positive note, first and foremost because the exceedingly rapid job losses that had characterized the prior two years finally came to a halt.  The stabilization of the job market was itself good news.  On top of that, local employment managed to grow -- albeit quite slowly -- for the first half of the year.  (The blip up and then back down in May was the result of temporary census hiring, but without that distortion employment increased through June).



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

(category: )

December 2010 Resale Data Rodeo

Submitted by Rich Toscano on January 9, 2011 - 7:26pm
Well, so much for the spring 2010 double-tax-credit-stimulated rally.  The last of the effects of that entire affair have been wiped out with the latest month's drop in the median price per square foot.  Prices by this measure were down in December by 3.5 percent for single family homes, 2.4 percent for condos, and 3.0 percent in aggregate.  This brings the overall median price per square foot down to 1.2% lower than it was in December 2009 -- the first year-over-year decline in this price measure since October 2009.


(category: )

Home Prices Dropped Sharply in October

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 29, 2010 - 1:05pm
The October release of the Case-Shiller index showed that San Diego home prices declined by 1.5 percent for the month.  This is a steep drop by recent standards -- it's been fifteen months since we saw a monthly index change of more than 1.5 percent in either direction.

Here is how the index price tiers have fared since the early-2009 trough. 



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org

(category: )

Job Market Sleepwalks Through November

Submitted by Rich Toscano on December 21, 2010 - 3:53pm
San Diego County employment rose slightly between October and November, according to the Employment Development Department's estimates.  The bulk of that increase, however, was owed to seasonal retail hiring.

The effects of the holidays can be seen in the following two graphs.  The first does not adjust for seasonality, and shows an increase of 3,700 jobs:



continue reading at voiceofsandiego.org


(category: )