What is Affordable Housing in San Diego? And Why Aren’t More Builders Investing in It?

The secret is out. San Diego is truly “America’s Finest City.” It has earned this designation by having pristine beaches hemmed in by mountains, more than 320 days of sunshine a year on average, and summer temperatures consistently hovering at 75 degrees. Unfortunately, for those in the market to purchase a home, these facts are reflected in our home prices.  

High demand from robust job growth and a severely limited supply of new homes have accelerated the sky-high prices. San Diego is the 9th Most Unaffordable City in the World, according to Time Magazine. It trails seventh and eighth place San Francisco and London, with a median house price 8.1 times the median income, and is more expensive than both Los Angeles and New York.

It is understandable that buyers are frustrated, especially since builders are experiencing the same sense of anxiety. Few builders have been fortunate enough to secure land and sustain the rigorous process of entitling it to build that ever elusive (but much needed) home in the “middle”: The moderately-priced new home for the average homebuyer.   

New Development

With the rebound of the economy since the Great Recession in 2009, Southern California and San Diego have seen a boom of growth in the construction and housing sectors. However, according to real estate website, Zillow, 64% of new construction has been luxury homes, primarily large detached homes in suburban or coastal locations.

Development professionals say that only luxury homes have margins that they can justify for the prohibitively expensive permitting and building costs in order to still offer a profit.  Some estimates put the cost of fees and regulatory costs at 30% of the total home cost, making it more difficult for builders to supply new homes for entry-level and move-up buyers.  

Many Cities, including San Diego, have laws requiring developers to either set aside a certain number of units for government controlled low-income housing or pay affordable housing development fees to cover construction of more low-income housing. Thus, there is a widening gap between luxury and affordable housing, leaving little in between.

The Difference Between “Affordable Housing” and Affordably Priced Homes

Government mandated and controlled Affordable Housing offers families housing options below market rates, depending on their income levels. Even people earning 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI) often qualify for subsidized housing. In other words, you can make 20% more than the average San Diegan and still qualify for subsidized housing, if you can find it.

Affordable Housing is essential, and currently necessary to provide housing for our working class families. A well-functioning economy requires housing for the workforce, period.

Subsidized housing provides lower monthly costs, but the long-term upside is often limited by price and rent controls. Therefore, people living in subsidized housing are missing out on the opportunity to build long-term wealth.

Ideally, our cities offer housing options to buyers across the income spectrum.  But unfortunately, that is not the way it is currently playing out in San Diego.

The Missing Middle

San Diego home prices have seen double-digit gains since 2009, and coastal housing has a median price that has climbed well above $1 Million. This squeeze from rising home prices and high demand has caused a quandary for those looking to purchase a home at an attainable price for the average family. Many of these constrained buyers are having to push their searches further and further outside the city’s core to find affordable houses. With new development occurring mostly in the outer regions of the county, north and East of Escondido, or south towards the Tijuana border, San Diego’s housing has developed a “missing middle”, a term that describes both the pricing and location that is desperately lacking from the market.

The Guild on 30th

Seeing a need, The Guild on 30th looks to fill in the gap of the missing middle. Offering new development homes in a fantastic location, beautiful coastal views, and easy access to downtown, entertainment venues, and great restaurants and parks, The Guild on 30th is indeed designed for buyers seeking the perks of living in San Diego with skyline views but without a sky-high price tag attached to them.

New construction is inherently more “green” than older homes, with much higher air quality and greater energy efficiency. But The Guild goes many steps beyond that, with a commitment to seeking LEED certification, and a goal of LEED Platinum. If that goal is achieved, it will be the first for-sale housing development in San Diego at any price point to reach the Platinum designation.

With one and two bedroom units starting in the $500’s, and two bedroom units starting in the $600’s, as well as very low HOA dues, The Guild on 30th offers an incredible opportunity for those who desire the long-term benefits of homeownership. It also provides the opportunity for San Diegans to own their own magnificent piece of Southern California, without selling their first-born child or marrying a supermodel to do so.

If you’re interested to see what a home built for the missing middle looks like, contact The Guild on 30th for a tour today! Contact one of our residential advisors today at 619.78.GUILD or sales@guildon30th.com.

About the Guild on 30th

A Joint Venture between McNamara Ventures (www.mcnamaraventures.com) and Agora Partners (www.agorapartners.com) the Guild on 30th is a condominium community dedicated to improving green living opportunities in emerging neighborhoods. Keegan McNamara, Principal of McNamara Ventures, is passionate about urban infill and the tenets of Smart Growth (www.smartgrowth.org). Focused on developing small-scale, high-density, residential and mixed-use projects in San Diego County, Keegan McNamara and Howard Kozloff, the Principal at Agora Partners, have turned a meeting through common interests at the Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) into a  close partnership dedicated to advancing thoughtful housing with a purpose.