Downtown San Diego Highrise Statistics

Posted on November 16, 2010 | by Denny Oh

I’m not going to try and convince you to buy a home.  Clearly, if today’s low interest rates, lack of demand(relatively speaking) and huge price decreases aren’t enough reason for you to buy, then I have nothing more to say.  However, here are some downtown San Diego condo highrise statistics that I collected a week or so ago.  I chose to only look at the “main” highrises downtown – sorry if your building isn’t in here.  Also, The Metropolitan is not listed because there have been no sales there in the last few years. Enjoy.



Let’s start with the number of condos sold.  Most of these buildings have anywhere from about 130–440 condos in their building(s).  In this analysis, I did not factor in townhomes, but some may, or may not have been included, depending on how they were entered into the MLS.  As you can see, The Grande had the most sales(again, as of about November 1st, 2010), with 24 condos sold.  Electra and The Legend tied for second place with 18 sales each.  Park Place had the fewest condos sold with only 4 recorded sales.  Looking at Sapphire Tower and Bayside, both of which most, if not all, sales were through the developer, I’m impressed by their numbers.  This is a “slow” market and they’ve done better than I anticipated.  I personally like both buildings, however, would chose Bayside overall as a nicer residence. 

Bayside at the Embarcadero offers a better level of construction in my opinion and nicer amenities.  Sapphire Tower, however, has less than half the number of condos and has higher ceiling heights, which are a nice bonus.  In a way, it’s personal preference.  Sapphire Tower also offers some very large penthouse condos which have very large, open spaces – this is hard to find downtown.

Moving on to market time, Discovery takes first place in the most days on the market competition.  This is primarily due to the fact that every one of the 13 sales there were either a short sale, or an REO.  With an average of 190 days on the market(DOM), Discovery barely “beat” Bayside, which had an average of 188 DOM.  Bayside took a while to sell its condos because they A) had a lot to sell B) have a higher price point and C) took a while to lower their asking prices. 


Park Place, with 52 DOM, had the shortest average market time and it also had the fewest number of sales – just 4 sales.  I’ve said this before, but people just don’t seem to want to leave Park Place.  There’s never much for sale in this building and it tends to go fast.  The Meridian condos also had a short average, with only 61 DOM.  The Meridian also had very few sales.

Price per square foot – alway an interesting statistic.  I typically don’t focus on this when looking at prices/comps, but my clients love to.  It’s great when you have identical units with similar views, floorplans, etc.  But…it’s almost worthless(in my opinion) when you look at the entire building and/or zip code.  A second floor condo with a view of the garage is not going to compare to a 39th floor penthouse with incredible, unobstructed views.  With all statistics, you need to look at them with some discretion and not as an absolute. 

 With that said, here you go…


Downtown San Diego’s Marina District had the most expensive condos, based on an average $/SqFt basis.  The Harbor Club came in first at $562/SqFt.  The Harbor Club only had six sales so far this year, but I guess with an average sales price of about a million dollars, it makes sense.  Sapphire Tower came in second place, with an average of $529/SqFt…which was only $1/SqFt higher than The Pinnacle Museum Tower’s average and $3/SqFt higher than Bosa’s Bayside at the Embarcadero. 

Each of these buildings have certain qualities that attract different buyers.  The Harbor Club, in my opinion, is more of a classic building with a slightly less contemporary feel.  The views from the Harbor Club are incredible and with a maximum of three condos per floor and more than half of the condos being non-primary residences, this may be the most private building downtown San Diego has to offer.  I’ve already mentioned Sapphire Tower and Bayside, so on to Pinnacle.  The Pinnacle Museum Tower is a pretty popular building.  People tend to like this building because it’s very clean and contemporary.  The Pinnacle is also very centrally located and it also has great views.  However, most of the bedrooms in the “less” expensive condos are on the small side and can be a turn off.


Discovery had the lowest average with only a $291/SqFt sales price.  Perhaps most shockingly to most people, The Meridian (which is in the Marina District) had the second lowest average $/SqFt(again, this is only based on the buildings in the charts I’ve provided).  With an average of $398/SqFt, it was $164 lower per square foot than the Harbor Club.  Most people assume that The Meridian is an expensive building, but it really isn’t on a $/SqFt basis.  The Meridian is known for its larger condos as well as its full service staff.  This means that at The Meridian, you never open the front door, park your car or carry your luggage.  Their 40 or so person staff is there to take care of you – that’s also why you pay higher HOAs. 


The Columbia District had several buildings sell for over $500/SqFt on average and still looks like it’s going to give the Marina District a run at becoming the most expensive part of downtown.  It will certainly take some time and lots of money, but if and when the proposed development goes into the surrounding areas, I think the Columbia District will carry a very expensive price tag.  I see it becoming San Diego’s financial district, or at least a heavily populated work center of downtown.  This area will probably see the most appreciation in the next 5–15 years(next will be East Village).  You probably noticed that Electra had a relatively low average $/SqFt, which is due to the fact that Bosa was finally getting rid of it’s unsold inventory that they had previously been renting(similar to what they did at The Legend).


Looking at the average sales price, Harbor Club wins again.  With an average sales price of $989,917, the Harbor Club just beat out Bayside’s average of $860,717.  The Meridian was a close third place, but Discovery came in last place with an average sales price of $354,923.  On average, the sales price was 6.16% below the list price. However, the biggest differences were seen in the buildings with unsold developer inventory, such as Bayside(12.6% below) and The Mark(10.7% below). 

Discovery saw the least amount of deviation from the asking price with only a 0.46% discount from the list price.  Renaissance and Alta both had less than 4% difference from the asking price and both had 10 sales(YTD). 


I’m not sure what to say actually.  You’ve seen all the info above and can create your opinions on how the market’s doing.  Should you buy?  Maybe.  Is it a great time to buy?  Definitely.  One of my clients told me the other day that one of my recent posts was misleading and that now IS the time to buy(which I’ve helped him do recently).  I guess what I was trying to say is that while I don’t see the current situation changing much anytime soon, it’s not worth it to wait and see if it does.  It’s a great time to buy and anyone who’s in a position financially and in terms of where they are at this point in their life, should be buying real estate. 

Here’s what my client had to say:

“…now is definitely the time to buy, especially for current renters.  Historically low interest rates combined with low prices is a very temporary and rare condition.  20/20 hindsight will show this period we’re currently in was a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially for non-investor, first time home buyers.”

So…who’s ready to buy?  Please click here to sign up for my blog and receive free updates.  You can contact me, Denny Oh, at 858–243–2092 or [email protected].


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One Comment

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