SLO County home sales dip as housing costs rise. What about the rest of California?

San Luis Obispo County home sales dipped in March as overall housing costs and supply grew slightly, buoyed by a handful of local communities that outperformed the rest.

Compared to the previous year, the Central Coast real estate market deviated from statewide trends. Across California, home prices dropped in most cities in March and rent costs stagnated statewide.

Meanwhile, according to a new study, home buyers skew older in SLO County than the rest of the Golden State.

So where did real estate prices fall, and where can buyers and renters find some wiggle room?

SLO County sees limited housing market growth

Statewide, Californians felt the effects of a slowing housing market, according to the California Association of Realtors’ March 2023 Sales and Price Report.

The median price of a home in California rose for the first time since October, ending March at $791,490 — up 7.6% from February and down 7% from March 2022.

As California’s housing stock got tighter, the median number of days homes spent on the real estate market fell, bottoming out at 19 days in March, the lowest since August 2022.

New listings also were also down 29.9% statewide compared to last year.

CAR’s March 2023 Housing Market Overview painted a slightly brighter picture for San Luis Obispo County home buyers.

The median home price in SLO County fell by 0.9% from the previous year to $895,000 in March, but the market stayed fiercely competitive despite the slight price drop.

Homes only spent 14 days on the local real estate market in March. Although active listings countywide grew to 262 that month —outperforming March 2022 by 23.6% — sales also dropped 23.6% to 159.

This suggests that, while more homes may be available, high prices may still be warding off buyers.

Where did home prices increase in SLO County?

Several locations across SLO County saw home costs fall compared to the previous year. Only Arroyo Grande, Nipomo and Atascadero’s housing markets saw median price increases.

Nipomo saw the most significant growth in home price out of any San Luis Obispo County city, reaching $1.25 million in March, a massive 39% jump from the previous year.

Those homes spent a median of 56 days on the market, as active listings fell 50% from March 2022 to 18. 11 of those homes were sold, falling 35.5% from the previous year.

In Arroyo Grande, median prices grew by 1% from March 2022, reaching $1.18 million. The 25 active listings in March — which fell by 13.8% from March 2022 levels — spent a median of nine days on the market.

Arroyo Grande recorded 20 home sales in March, identical to the same time period the previous year.

Atascadero saw its median home price creep upwards by 10.8%, reaching $820,000 in March, as homes stayed on the market for a median of 13 days.

The 18 active listings were a 10% decrease from 2022.

Lastly, Grover Beach’s $716,000 median home price grew 8% from March 2022, but active listings and sales both fell by 33.3% and 9.1%, respectively.

Grover Beach homes spent just 19 days on the market in March 2022.

Where have housing costs decreased?

Conversely, Templeton homes saw a precipitous 43.9% decline in median price from March 2022, landing at $846,000 in March.

Homes there only spent a median of five days on the market, but only three of the 16 active listings were sold. Those three sales represented a 62.5% decline from the previous year.

Despite falling 30.6% from March 2023, Pismo Beach’s median home price of $1.1 million still was one of the highest in SLO County in March.

Homes spent a median of eight days on the market in Pismo Beach.

The South County city had 16 active listings in March — 77.8% more than the previous year — and only six sales were reported, a 14.3% drop from March 2022.

Morro Bay’s housing market similarly cooled, as homes in the coastal city spent a median of 90 days on the market despite a 19.4% median price drop to $800,000.

Fourteen homes were available to buyers, a 16.7% increase from the previous year.

However, only five homes sold, a 50% decline from March 2022.

Meanwhile, Cambria’s median home price dropped 9.9% to $1.16 million in March. Homes there spent a median of 19 days on the market before selling.

As in March 2022, 11 homes were sold this March.

However, more homes were available this time around. There were 19 active listings, an increase of 72.7% from March 2022.

Just to the south, Los Osos’ median home price fell 2.7% from March 2022 to $796,000, as all 10 active listings were sold in March.

However, those listings spent a median of 43 days on the market.

With a median home price of $721,000, Paso Robles had the cheapest real estate listings in the county, thanks to a 3.8% price drop from the previous year.

There were 52 active listings in the North County city in March, representing a 33.3% uptick in available homes over March 2022.

However, sales dropped by 49.1% to 27 in March.

Those homes spent a median of 16 days on the market.

Lastly, San Luis Obispo’s market stayed as competitive as ever. Homes there only stayed on the market for a week before selling.

The city had 28 active listings in March, a 75% increase from the previous year, and 21 homes were sold, falling just 4.5% from March 2022.

What about rent costs?

Renters got some relief nationally, as a study showed rent costs fell slightly from February to March.

According to the report, March ended with a national median rent of $1,937, which was down 0.4% from March 2022, and represented a slight 0.01% decline from February 2023.

However, 81.4% of all markets in the United States experienced increases in rent compared to the previous year, and 58.14% of all markets saw rent increases between February and March, the study found.

In California, the outlook was similar for renters.

By the end of March, data showed California’s median rent settled at $2,980, which was 0.74% higher than the previous year and 0.41% higher than the previous month.

Report: SLO-Paso Robles metro area has older home buyers

The San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles metro area is home to some of the oldest home buyers in the United States, according to a new study by Construction Coverage.

Of the 356 metro areas surveyed for the study, the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles metro area ranked 27th in terms of the percentage of home buyers over the age of 55.

Approximately 32.7% of local home buyers fell into that age range.

In addition, 14.3% of home buyers in the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles metro area were over 65, the study found, meaning that the area ranked 29th out of all metro areas for that age category.

Buyers over age 75 made up 2.7% of the local housing market, earning the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles metro area 36th place in that age category.

No other metro area in California had a higher percentage of buyers over the ages of 55 or 65, the study found.

Only the Redding and Santa Maria-Santa Barbara had higher percentages of home buyers over 75, with 3.2% and 3% of shoppers falling into that age range, respectively.

According to the Construction Coverage report, home purchases by seniors are on the decline.

U.S. residents over 55 owned 57% of household real estate wealth as of the end of 2022, but are staying put more often, the report said.

“Older Americans’ decisions to stay out of the real estate market and age in place stand in stark contrast to younger generations, who represent a much larger share of homebuyers,” the report read. “Where younger people may look to buy a home to be closer to job opportunities or start a family, older people often have less urgency to move as they reach the end of their careers or their children grow up.”