Something 'Crazy' Is Happening In The Southern California Housing Market

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the areas around San Diego, the all-in cost of renting a house is more expensive than buying a house.North County Times (via Calculated Risk):

Monthly payments on a house are now cheaper than monthly rents on a similar house in most of North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties, according to an analysis of county-supplied and Realtor data by the North County Times.

“I don’t think this has ever happened before,” said G.U. Krueger, a principal economist for “It’s a function of the huge housing price collapse which has left a lot of people in the lurch.”

Or, as Carlsbad real estate agent Tyson Lund put it: “This is crazy.”

This inversion of the costs of renting and buying a house is something that’s garnered a fair amount of buzz over the last several months.

Warren Buffett has called buying distressed properties, and renting them out his #1 business idea.

In a recent interview, Paul McCulley said he was intrigued by Southern California real estate, in part because it’s so out of favour..

One think to think about, however, is that if a homebuyer assumes that the value of said home will continue to fall after purchase (a reasonable assumption, given that the direction of housing still appears to be going down) then it makes perfect sense that rent would be more expensive, since the homedweller is not risking a monthly loss of equity.

Meanwhile, other measures of housing affordability, such as the NAR’s index that compares the price of a home to income is surging off the charts.


Of course, a major impediment to a housing rebound is credit and mortgage availability.

A lot of people who are renters can’t make the jump to homeownership since they can’t get a mortgage.

As this recent chart from Nomura showed, inability to get a mortgage is a growing reason why realtors are seeing deals fall through.


Photo: Nomura

But as the jobs market starts to creep back — something that is happening the fastest in these ex-bubble areas — this impediment should begin to dissipate.

SEE ALSO: A guide to buying distressed properties and renting them out >

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