The History of San Diego Real Estate: The 1980’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 and 1970’s.




San Diego Real Estate History: The 1980’s


San Diego County Population: 1,861,846 people

San Diego County Population Growth For This Decade: 34%

Estimated Number of New Housing Units Built from 1970-1979: 58,717 Units

Estimated Number of Total Housing Units in the County by 1979: 206,890 Units (Including 47,015 Units Built Prior to 1960)

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


Overall, in the 1980’s, technology was on the rise. Offices saw their first fax machines, pagers, and cellphones. The speed of data flow increased as boards were able to fax information about the newest listings to their members and people were able to fax documents to each other. However at this time, signatures on faxes weren’t considered to be legally binding. Early adopters started to have carphones and most people had pagers. The speed of the business was starting to pick up. The late eighties saw the first computers appearing in the office, in the form of word-processing machines.

By the mid-80’s the local boards have merged into just a handful, a model we still have today.

Also the 80’s saw an increase of a focus on agent information and disclosures. When an agent listed a home, they had to count all the rooms themselves, measure the spaces, and come up with all pertinent information about the property from inspecting it. Today, we have stored data to work off of.

People were qualified to purchase homes by their agent. Today, we recommend that anyone interested in purchasing a property meet with a lender to be pre-approved. There was less of separation of specialties and more of a focus on the agent being able to wear many hats including inspector, loan officer, etc.


Notable Changes in Real Estate Law From This Decade:

1981: Regulation of Time-Share Offerings. With the subsequent enactment of Assembly Bill 2252 on January 1, 2005, DRE, in collaboration with the time-share industry, reformed the time-share law streamlining the qualification process while improving consumer protection.


Notable San Diego Events From This Decade:


1980: The San Diego Trolley, first line in the city’s new light-rail transit system, is dedicated.

1982: After a massive fund-raising drive to rebuild it, a new, three-theater Old Globe complex opens in Balboa Park.

1984: Padres win National League Pennant; World Series games first played in San Diego.

1988: San Diego hosts its first Super Bowl.

1989: San Diego Convention Center opens.


Notable United States Events From This Decade:


1981: Sandra Day O’Connor is sworn in as the first woman Supreme Court justice.

1986: Challenger disaster.

1989: Exxon Valdez oil spill.


Join us next month as we dive into the history of the 1990’s and take a look at what changes in that decade shaped the evolution of the real estate industry.

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