The History of San Diego Real Estate: The 1970’s



In this special series, we will be covering the evolution of the real estate industry from the 1960’s to present day. These posts are based on the industry experience of Coastal Premier Properties Broker, Tom Tucker. It is our hope that by retelling the history of real estate in San Diego County, we will be able to trace the changes at a social, economic, and technological level that have led to today’s current industry profile and the results that have occurred for consumers, for better and for worse. Click here to read about San Diego in the 1960’s.



San Diego Real Estate History: The 1970’s


San Diego County Population: 1,357,854 people

San Diego County Population Growth For This Decade: 37%

Estimated Number of New Housing Units Built from 1970-1979: 67,620 Units

Estimated Number of Total Housing Units in the County by 1979: 148,173 Units (Including 47,015 Units Built Prior to 1960)

(information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau)


Overall, in the 1970’s, we began to see the emergence of the structures and the protocols that uphold our industry today. Perhaps most significantly, we started to see the first real cooperation between the different local boards, allowing real estate agents affiliated from other boards to obtain copies of the listing books. You were able, if you wanted to take a trip down to the board everyday, to get copies of the newest listings as soon as they hit “the market”. These came in the form of tear-sheets: small slips of papers that contained the bare bones facts about the property. The following week that same property would be available in page form with its photograph for inclusion in the books. The first real “go-getters” of this decade, were the ones who took it upon themselves to go and get the tear-sheets before the pages were ready for the book. This is the first indication that the industry’s engine was beginning to rev.

For consumers, the 1970’s marked an era of major progress. Franchises began to emerge during this decade. Century 21, Red Carpet, ERA, are just a few examples of the company franchises that started to emerge in contrast to the previous model of the independent brokerage. The emergence of these franchises, where one company owned multiple offices and thus controlled a “territory”, was a major impetus in the standardization of the language of our forms. These franchising companies had access to corporate attorneys, who worked with state and national boards to introduce the idea of using standardized forms in real estate transactions. Prior to the 1970’s, there were many different styles and languages used in each form and nothing was standardized from brokerage to brokerage or board to board. By the end of the decade, standard language for standard forms had appeared and everyone had mutually agreed to use them. During this decade, disclosure forms began to appear. Previously, a contract was about two pages long. What a difference from today’s industry where a file can amass quite a stack of paperwork.

During this industry, consumers also began working exclusively with one agent, who would show them properties to buy that were listed by other agents. This was different from the shopping model of the 1960’s where a buyer would call an agent to inquire about their inventory.


Notable Changes in Real Estate Law From This Decade:


1970: Under Business and Professions Code 10004, the Division of Real Estate was renamed Department of Real Estate (DRE).

1978: Proposition 13 is approved. In June of 1978, California voters approved Proposition 13, amending the State Constitution so that the maximum annual tax on real property is limited to one percent of ‘full cash value’ (market value) plus a maximum of two percent annual inflation factor based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), as calculated by the California Department of Industrial Relations. (Sections 51 and 110.1) An additional sum is allowed to pay for indebtedness on affected property approved by voters prior to the passage of Proposition 13. Also, selected new indebtedness is allowed, only by a two/thirds vote of the residents affected.


Notable San Diego Events From This Decade:


1970: San Diego becomes California’s second-largest city.

1973: Point Loma College is established.

1975: Mayor Pete Wilson launches plans for a dramatic redevelopment of downtown San Diego.

1978: World-famed Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park burns to ground in arson fire.

Notable United States Events From This Decade:


1979: U.S. establishes diplomatic ties with mainland China for the first time since Communist takeover in 1949.


Join us next month as we dive into the history of the 1980’s and take a look at what changes in that decade shaped the evolution of the real estate industry.


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