Sacramento County, encompassing California’s capital and cities like Elk Grove, Citrus Heights and Folsom, is home to the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). This region was one of the last counties in California to reach a jobs recovery from the 2008 recession, necessary to fuel wallets and in turn household formations. Its lagging recovery can be attributed partially to Sacramento’s dependence on state and local government jobs, which were slow to return. 

However, this recovery was quickly followed by the 2020 recession, resulting in significant job losses and a complete erasure of the past five years of job gains. But unlike the last recovery, jobs in this region have returned more quickly than other parts of the state, likely due to its reliance on government funding, which was abundant during the hangover from the 2020 recession.

In 2022, home prices are meeting resistance from rising interest rates and waning buyer enthusiasm. Sacramento County will continue to see sales volume and prices fall back, worsened by 2022’s undeclared recession. Real estate’s next recession is here, and the time is now for real estate professionals to recession-proof their careers. Home sales won’t begin a consistent recovery until around 2026-2027.

Get to know Sacramento’s local housing fundamentals in the charts that follow.

Updated September 8, 2022. Original copy posted October, 2015.

Home sales volume inches higher

Chart update 09/08/22

2021 2020 2019
Sacramento County home sales volume 27,400 23,700 24,100

Sacramento County home sales volume has avoided much of the volatility of California’s other major metros. After years of essentially flat sales volume, home sales volume in 2021 totaled 5% higher than a year earlier. While a larger increase than prior years, all of California’s other major metros experienced much larger year-over-year leaps in sales volume during 2021, with the sales volume increasing 22% statewide.

As of the second quarter (Q2) of 2022, year-to-date (YTD) sales volume is a slight 5% lower than a year earlier in Sacramento. This is yet another aberration from the rest of the state, which has experienced significantly lower YTD home sales volume in 2022, at -18% as of Q2 2022.

Home sales volume in Sacramento has not been as volatile as many other parts of the state. One reason is the consistent addition to the for-sale inventory, in the form of residential construction. In California’s expensive and desirable coastal cities, new construction has been held back significantly by outdated zoning laws and not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) advocates. Not so in Sacramento, where construction is welcome and typically allows sales volume to keep pace with homebuyer demand.

Even so, home sales are expected to continue their slowdown heading into 2023, primarily due to higher interest rates and the loss of homebuyer enthusiasm. Sales volume will not stabilize until the market has worked through the presently undeclared double-dip recession and jobs begin to return consistently, expected to take shape in Sacramento around 2025.

Related article:

The Fed bumps up rates again — the undeclared recession is here

Homeownership buoyed by residential construction

Chart update 09/08/22

Q2 2022 Q1 2022 Q2 2021
Sacramento County homeownership 61.8% 67.5% 59.3%

The homeownership rate in Sacramento County varies greatly each quarter, though the general trend was flat-to-down for over a decade — until homeownership began to jump dramatically from quarter-to-quarter in 2017. As of Q2 2022, the homeownership rate is a high 61.8% in Sacramento. For comparison, the statewide average was a much lower 54.6%.

Earlier in 2022, Sacramento smashed past its homeownership record of 67%, previously set in 2005. Following the conclusion of the housing bubble when homeownership was last at its peak, many homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure. This is pictured in the swift decline in Sacramento County’s homeownership rate experienced in 2010, bottoming at 57% in 2011.  Meanwhile, the rest of the state has yet to catch up to the Millennium Boom levels of homeownership, and are unlikely to bounce back for several years.

Sacramento’s high homeownership rate is the result of relatively sufficient residential construction to keep up with demand. Compared with California’s other major metros, Sacramento’s looser zoning restrictions enable construction to meet the demand of homebuyer occupants of all income levels. Still, expect Sacramento’s homeownership rate to fall back slightly in 2022, as negative economic conditions discourage homebuyers.

Turnover flat to down


Chart update 09/08/20

2018 2017 2016
Sacramento County homeowner turnover rate 8.5% 9.0% 8.2%

Sacramento County renter turnover rate

21.4% 22.7%
19.2%

A real estate agent’s living is contingent on residential turnover. Without it, property doesn’t sell, tenants stay put and mortgage originations go nowhere.

The good news is owner-occupant turnover has recently increased to 9.0%, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau (Census) data. Owner-occupant turnover (the percentage of homeowners who moved within the last 12 months) bottomed in 2007 just as the Millennium Boom began to explode. Homeowners found the courage to move a bit more in 2008-2009 (due partially to the government stimulus that encouraged homebuying), only to fall back by mid-2010 when the stimulus ended. Since then, turnover by owner-occupants has remained steady at around 8% each year, at 8.5% in 2018.

On the other hand, the general trend for renter turnover is down. Renter turnover peaked in 2009 at a massive 40%. For perspective, that means two out of five renters moved in 2009 — a significant sum for California. A lot of this turnover was due to former homeowners selling (often by short sale or foreclosure) to buyers who were tenants or to investors who rented to relocating tenants. Renter turnover has fallen each year since, rebounding slightly in 2017 and falling back to 21.4% in 2018.

Like the homeownership rate, expect homeowner turnover to decrease in 2020. Turnover may spike in 2021 with the lifting of the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, before falling back in 2022. Then, with the support of a healthy jobs market in the years following the next recession, turnover will gradually improve.

Construction slowly rising

Chart update 09/08/22

2021 2020 2019
Sacramento County single family residential (SFR) starts 3,900 4,400 3,900

Sacramento County multi-family starts

2,100 3,000
1,600

After years of flat performance, construction in Sacramento County began to make solid gains in 2020. In the past couple of years, there have been several months where builders started zero new multi-family or single family residential (SFR) construction projects. This dormant situation saw an injection of new growth in 2020, as investors set their eyes on Sacramento as a city primed for residential growth. It has since fallen back, tempered by the building material and labor shortages which have characterized construction across the state.

However, even 2020’s level of construction is below what Sacramento needs to keep up with demand from homebuyers and renters alike. In fact, the peak year of 2003 saw nearly three times more SFR construction starts than the 3,900 SFR starts experienced in 2021. But multi-family construction is finally looking up, with 2020 surpassing the peak year for construction last achieved during the Millennium Boom.

Sacramento construction is likely to continue to outpace the rest of the state in the coming years. State legislative efforts to increase the low- and mid-tier housing stock have focused on encouraging more multi-family construction and with Sacramento’s relatively low cost of living compared to other Central and Northern California metros, it has become an attractive city for many first-time homebuyers and renters looking to save and still maintain a high standard of living.

A swift jobs recovery from the 2020 recession

Chart update 09/08/22

Jun 2022 Jun 2021 Annual change
Sacramento County jobs 1,051,900 993,100 +5.9%

Sacramento was one of the last counties in California to reach a pre-2008 recession jobs recovery. Its lagging recovery can be attributed partially to Sacramento’s dependence on state and local government jobs, which were slow to return. On the other hand, the region’s recovery from the 2020 recession has occurred much more quickly, with government-funded jobs minimizing losses. As of June 2022, jobs are officially above the pre-2020 recession peak.

Sacramento’s population has grown about 1% each year since the 2008 recession. With working-aged individuals making up some 60% of this added population, Sacramento needed an additional 84,000 jobs for adequate employment following 2015’s initial recovery for total employment to match population levels. At the past pace of job additions, this finally occurred in 2019, a decade after the conclusion of the recession.

This recovery was just in time for triple whammy of financial crash, pandemic and recession that arrived in 2020. As of June 2022, the number of jobs held is 5.9% above a year earlier, and 27,100 jobs above the pre-recession peak. Jobs bounced back much faster here in Sacramento compared to the rest of the state, likely due to the large number of state-sponsored jobs in Sacramento. However, the jobs recovery has recently slowed its pace.

Real estate jobs lacking

Chart update 09/08/22

Jun 2022 Jun 2021 Annual change

Construction

78,000 78,700
-0.9%

Real Estate Rentals & Leasing

17,900 16,300
+9.8%

The recovery in jobs for those in the real estate and construction industries has been slow. Keep in mind that while the chart above shows a steady rise in both real estate and construction jobs, the actual number of construction jobs is displayed at seven times that of real estate jobs on the chart (the chart is displayed in this manner to make the change in real estate jobs perceptible). Thus, while the number of Sacramento real estate professionals are slightly below the pre-recession peak, construction jobs have been regained much faster, now well above the pre-recession peak.

Some real estate jobs will be cast off in 2022-2023 as transaction volume and pricing slow, still others will look to supplement their reduced incomes. However, expect construction jobs to be regained more swiftly as more housing is needed to meet demand, currently restrained by low inventory. Jobs of all types will begin a more consistent recovery from the forthcoming recession around 2025, filling wallets and in turn fueling household formations.

Income on the rise

Chart update 05/12/22

2020 2019 Annual change
Sacramento County per capita income $58,300 $53,300 +9.4%
California per capita income $70,700 $65,300 +8.3%

Sacramento County surpassed its 2008 (pre-recession) peak of $39,671 in per capita income just three years after the recession in 2011. In contrast, most of the state didn’t catch up with pre-recession income until 2012.

However, Sacramento County’s average income remains well below the state average as of 2020, an adjustment typical to the region. Government employee compensation is less than state averages but more long-term in duration than the private employment turnover throughout the state.

Income finally surpassed the pre-recession pace of around 3% a year in 2015, and actually exceeded the state’s average income pace at 9.4% in 2020. This is well above the target rate for consumer inflation, but still below the average annual increase in housing costs. Thus, incomes were able to match the ever-increasing price of goods and services in 2020, granting residents a boost in their standard of living.

For housing, incomes are keeping pace with the annual rise in the historic mean price trendline: the home price anchor and point at which prices invariably return. But annual home price movement during a business cycle is another matter. Property prices often rise or fall dramatically from year to year without regard to the annual rate of consumer inflation and wage increases before returning to the mean price trendline. In any given year, home pricing is controlled by factors such as:

  • mortgage rates;
  • jobs;
  • personal savings;
  • housing starts; and
  • individual confidence in the future.

Expect to see average incomes fall back in 2023-2024, the result of job losses and reduced wages. However, the impact on home prices has been muted due to a still-low inventory.