Downtown San Diego Highrise Analysis

Posted on September 1, 2010 | by Denny Oh

What is the best condo building in downtown San Diego?  Where can you get the best deal?  Which building holds its value the most?  Well this post might not answer these questions, but it will shed some light on what’s going on downtown.  I’ve collected data on what I consider to be the major(higher end) highrises downtown and outlined my findings below.  I did not look at Bayside or Sapphire Tower, only because most of the sales are not listed on the MLS and they’re typically not listed in the tax records.  Also, The Metropolitan is not listed, but only because there have been no sales there in the last two years.




Sales Price

The Harbor Club condos, by far, have had the highest average sales price so far this year.  With only four condo sales this year, I’m not sure it’s really fair to place much weight on this statistic, but since the average sales price at the Harbor Club condos was more than 77% above the average sales price, I think I have to.  Keep in mind though, like all the comparisons I’m making in this post, it’s only in relation to the buildings I listed in the chart – Alta, Cityfront Terrace, Discovery, Electra, Harbor Club, Horizons, Park Place, Parkloft, Pinnacle, Renaissance, The Grande, The Legend, The Mark and The Meridian(sorry for the boring read, but this helps with SEO, which helps you find me!).  With an average sales price of $1,146,125, the Harbor Club is more than $807K pricier than the Discovery, which had the lowest average sales price, YTD. 

Price per Square Foot

I’ve never been a big fan of using $/sqft to figure out comps, but it seems like all my clients place a lot of importance on this.  The reason why I don’t like it, is because there are too many variables that affect this factor.  Smaller units typically have higher $/sqft.  Two condos with the exact same size and layout might be $100/sqft apart, solely based on orientation and views.  Top floor units have considerably higher $/sqft, even if the unit directly below it has the same exact view, floorplan and size.  I guess it’s good to look at, but only if you analyze it and not just take it at face value.

With that said, the Harbor Club had the highest $/sqft average.  At $577.60/sqft, the Harbor Club sales were almost 29% higher than the average.  This is primarily because two of the units sold during this time period, are unique floor plans that are rarely on the market.  At Harbor Club, there’s a maximum of three condos per floor.  One of the sales was a “half floor” unit (instead of three condos, there are only two on the floor, each around 2100sqft) and the other was a custom, combined unit – a bubble unit and a one bedroom – that is just over 2500 sqft.  Both of these units also have incredible views.

Parkloft had the lowest price per square foot.  At $267.16/sqft, Parkloft was 40% below the average.  This was probably because the building is going through litigation(which makes it difficult or impossible to get a loan) and because these condos are lofts – meaning no interior dividing walls.  Parkloft is one of my favorite buildings, but they’re not for everyone.  These lofts are open spaces with no bedrooms walls.   Instead, owners use furniture – bookshelves, armoires, etc., to create different spaces.  These condos have exposed ductwork and plumbing, which is another reason why I love it.  However, Parkloft is limited on amenities, but the HOAs don’t reflect that.


Percentage-wise, The Legend has had the most sales this year.  Having sold 15 condos, this accounts for 8.43% of the entire building’s condos.  This is in part due to the fact that the developer, Bosa Development, still has some unsold inventory that it’s trying to get rid of.  Since Bosa didn’t sell all of the condos at The Legend when they finished construction, they decided to rent some of them and as the leases expire, Bosa is putting them back on the market – they’re doing the same thing with the unsold inventory at Electra as well.  The Legend came in second however, in terms of total condos soldThe Grande won this category with a total of 17 sales, YTD.

The Grande has had the most condos sales, but was just above “average” when you consider the percentage of the building, or in this case, buildings, that sold.  Combined, The Grande North and South, have a total of 442 condos, which includes the townhouses.  Cityfront Terrace comes in second place, with a total of 320 condos and Parkloft has the fewest condos, at a modest 120 residences

Horizons and Park Place had the fewest sales, with only 3 a piece(the average was 8).  Horizons also has the lowest percentage of sales, with only 1.42% of the building changing hands.  I’m not exactly sure why these two buildings had such few sales(the average was 3.57% of the building selling) though…maybe people just don’t want to move away from these buildings?

Days on Market (DOM)

Discovery killed the competition in this category and had an average market time of 241 days!  This was more than double the 95 day average for these buildings.  This is because so many of the sales were short sales and foreclosures, which as we all know, can take forever!  This is probably also why Discovery had the lowest average sales price – just $338,222 for its nine sales this year.

The Mark however, had an average market time of just 46 days.  I’m not exactly sure why things moved so quickly here, but several of the seven sales were new sales and not resales.  The Mark was built by Douglas Wilson, who also built Parkloft.  What I like about The Mark, are its high ceilings, contemporary design and attractive amenities.  I love the pool area and it seems to be one of the most inviting pools downtown – it wasn’t an after thought and it gets a lot of sun(and very little, to no wind).  Most of my clients also love the fact that the closets are larger than much of its competition.


In the end, it comes down to the individual buyer and his/her preferences.  Some people like The Harbor club because of its charm, others prefer The Grande’s views, while others want the level of service that the Meridian provides.  What you, as a buyer, need to do is figure out what’s important to you(view, amenities, location, etc.) and look at a variety of condos before you make your decision.  You also want to learn about how your views/surroundings are going to change, or not change, over the next several years.

If you are in the market, or are thinking about buying or selling, please let me know.  I will show you around and share what I’ve learned, with you.  Denny Oh 858–243–2092 [email protected]



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