May 12, 2021
By Saeed Ghaffari
Population Drop in California
3 Major Factors Contributing to Population Drop in California for the First Time in History
Does high cost of living and soaring property values have anything to do with it?
California’s population is reported by CNN to be at 39,466,855 according to the 2021 census.
Interestingly CA’s population has dropped in 2020 from the year before for the first time in the state’s recorded history.
According to this report and based on stats from California Department of Finance, between January 2020 and January 2021, the state lost about .46% of its population, more than 182,000 residents.
More than half of the decline, a loss of about 100,000 residents was blamed on federal immigration policies. Unfortunately, Covid-19 had its hands in it too. About 51,000 Californians lost their lives to the pandemic. This is 19% above the average death rate for the preceding 3 years.
A loss of about 24,000 that makes the balance of the total loss was credited to fewer births. Apparently slower birth rate was a nationwide phenomenon and California was affected more than other states. I am sure the pandemic may have caused the slower birth rate among other factors.
While it was the first time California experienced a loss in its population, 2020 was the 3rd consecutive year that Los Angeles County, state’s most populous lost residents. According to CNN, LA County dropped .3 percent in 2018 and 2019 and .9 percent in 2020.
However, population growth remains strong in the interior counties of the Sacramento Valley, the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, while coastal and northern counties saw population losses, according to the report.
I was surprised the high cost of living and soaring property values were not mentioned anywhere in the report. I personally know quite a few people closely who left the state searching for better living conditions and lower cost of living.
With a control over the pandemic on the horizon and changes expected in the federal immigration policies, the population growth is expected to resume this year, experts believe.
In other words, not much change is to be expected according to this report, highways, freeways, streets and cities will continue to remain over crowded, traffic jams will stay put, and high cost of living will be with us for a foreseeable future. While this adds more stress to many people’s lives, I remember a realtor friend’s quote from the 90s told me once “every time I am stock in traffic, I thank god”. I asked him how so? To which he replied, because there are this many people around me so I can buy them or sell their homes.
That’s what I call the power of positive thinking.
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California Buyers Still Can’t Afford Homes
The issue for California residential real estate remains the same. Poor affordability means that despite latent demand, buyers can’t afford the prices of homes in the Golden State. For that reason, many have left to find much cheaper homes in other states. Unemployment will likely be on the rise along with lower business profitability (tech sector continues to lay off workers) which means fewer buyers are likely for 3 to 6 months.
The stronger consumer optimism is running against sticky inflation and a likelihood the FED can’t lower interest rates. But will that discourage buyers in California? Demand is always intense in CA. No other place offers what California has, and buyers today do seem to put lifestyle at the top of their list.
The luxury housing market, like most other real estate sectors, is adjusting to a slowdown. Affordability and home size are every bit as much on wealthy buyers’ minds as other consumers. “The reality is we are coming out of one of the best real estate markets in history,” Gary Gold, a luxury property specialist with Coldwell Banker Realty in Beverly Hills, Calif., notes in the latest Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Trends Report. “But that level of demand and price appreciation wasn’t sustainable.”
Nearly 90% of respondents to the Coldwell Banker survey say they believe the real estate market will be better than or the same as 2022 for property investment. The following emerging trends were noted in the report.