Much like the rest of the nation, the communities of the Southern California desert saw home values plummet in the wake of the 2008 recession. But while sale prices in Los Angeles County have since returned to their pre-recession peaks, that hasn’t happened in the desert—yet.
The market is picking up, though, and real estate agents in the area say they’re optimistic that trend will continue. That’s good news if you already own a home there; if you don’t, but would like to, it means you’ll have some tough decisions to make about what you are looking for and how much to invest.
To help, we’ve compiled four things to keep in mind when navigating the desert real estate market. The bargain days are over. The pace of life in the desert may be slower, but home prices there are accelerating quickly. Across the region, the value of homes has soared in recent years.
“People want to come out and spend $100,000 on a junky cabin and fix it up,” says Madelaine La Voie, who operates realty offices in the cities of Joshua Tree, 29 Palms, Morongo Valley, and Pioneertown. “But that was two years ago. You can’t find that anymore.”
In Joshua Tree, home values more than doubled over the past five years. In Desert Hot Springs, they’re up more than 80 percent. Cathedral City (64.9 percent), Indio (52.4 percent), and Palm Springs (49.4 percent) also saw huge gains during the same period, according to data provided to Curbed by Zillow.
The number of homes buyers have to choose from is also declining, helping to drive up prices. According to Zillow, inventory (the number of homes on the market) dropped at least 10 percent last year in Palm Desert, Palm Springs, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Joshua Tree, Indian Wells, and Cathedral City. But fewer options and big jumps in price aren’t deterring buyers. The typical house in the greater Coachella Valley area now sells in about 65 days—down from nearly 100 days less than two years ago, according to the Palm Springs Regional Association of Realtors.