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How California’s southern house-price ‘savings’ shrank in March

How California’s southern house-price ‘savings’ shrank in March

California’s north-south house-price gap shrank to 42% in March as records were shattered across the state.

My trusty spreadsheet, filled with California Association of Realtors monthly data on sales of existing single-family homes, shows the pandemic era pushed prices up slightly faster to the south in March. Cheap mortgages, limited inventory to buy, and urges for more living space motivated house hunters to pay up  …

• In the five-county Southern California region, the median-price house sold cost a record $705,000 in March — that’s up 8.6% in a month; up 26.7% in a year; and up 57.2% over five years.

• In the nine-county Bay Area, March’s median was a record $1.225 million — up 6.4% in a month; up 21.3% in a year; and up 61% over five years.

• So, the south’s “savings” — the gap between these price benchmarks — was 42% last month vs. 44% a month earlier, 45% a year earlier and equal to the 42% average starting in 2015. (Yes, we know it takes the Bay Area to make Southern California housing look “affordable”.)

Bubble Watch tracks housing risks. Read it here!

This gap has expanded in recent years as the Bay Area’s high-paying technology jobs ballooned that region’s house prices. The north-south difference averaged only 12% in 1990-94, but it grew to 35% in 1995-2000 and 42% in 2001-2004. The gap slipped to 30% in 2005-2010 and 37% in 2010-2014 amid the fallout from the Great Recession.

PS: Statewide, the median hit a record $758,990 in March, up 8.6% in a month; up 23.9% in a year; and 56.8% over five years.

Jonathan Lansner is business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

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