Rancho Santa Fe ‘quiet jewel of San Diego County,’ real estate expert tells board


By Karen Billing

As the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors gears up to put the Osuna property home on the market, they had an expert come to the March 15 Association meeting to hear an update on local real estate trends. Rick Hoffman, chief operating officer and president of Coldwell Banker in San Diego, said that while it’s been a rough few years, the market is somewhat stabilized in the county and Rancho Santa Fe remains one of the ideal destinations.

“Rancho Santa Fe has always been a sweet spot for people to live in,” said Hoffman. “It remains the quiet jewel of San Diego County.”

The Association put out a request for proposal (RFP) earlier this month to local real estate firms to find someone to represent the Association as they sell the 3.3-acre property.

Part of the RFP is determining whether to list the home as is or perform renovations and how that will effect the listing price.

Companies will be invited to tour the house on March 29 and RFPs are due to the Association by April 6.

“Real estate in San Diego since 1971 has seen some ups and downs, but right now is one of the most severe downs many of us can recall,” Hoffman said. “But we’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel that’s not a train again.”

Hoffman said the last time they saw the light was May/June of 2010 when the market toyed with everyone’s emotions by jumping up only to come sharply back down. Hoffman said 2011 wasn’t a very good year, but they are seeing some glimmers of hope in early 2012.

Hoffman said that the median price of homes sold in all of the 92067 zip code is $2.899 million and the average list price is $3.894 million. The list price is up and the average sales price is up 14 percent over last year.

“We’re seeing some recovery in the high-end market,” said Hoffman of $2 million to $10 million homes in San Diego County. “In January and February we had 23 sales that exceeded $2 million.”

Thirteen homes that sold in January in San Diego County were paid more than 50 percent in cash, he said, noting that means there is a lot of money that’s been on the sidelines for the last three to four years that is suddenly showing up.

Hoffman is also “very encouraged” that sales in the county per square foot are up 13 percent. In January, it was $431 per square foot.

“Inventory is out biggest nemesis,” said Hoffman.

An inventory of seven to nine months in the county would be considered healthy and right now they are at an inventory of three to three and a half months. Hoffman said the demand is for more inventory in the $1.5 million to $3 million range, where people who qualify for mortgages or who are ready with cash are looking to buy.

Right now the market time for selling a home in the county is at 255 days. Hoffman said 180 to 200 days is average and the current figure could be due to low inventory and homes not being priced correctly.

Board members asked Hoffman what he thinks makes Rancho Santa Fe a desirable location as their awareness committee is currently looking at ways to market the Covenant for prospective home buyers.

Hoffman said Rancho Santa Fe, like Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach, is an ideal place for people to move because of the quality of life and the quality of the school systems. People are drawn to the “idyllic” big lots (and don’t mind spending the extra in utilities for the privilege of having more land), the quiet privacy and amenities like the golf club.

Hoffman said Rancho Santa Fe still appeals to a different segment of the marketplace that values the ambiance the Covenant has been successful in preserving.

“You’re fortunate here that trees didn’t work for railroad ties,” Hoffman said.