Housing in Orange County is as hot as the heat wave in SoCal.

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Housing in Orange County is as hot as the heat wave in SoCal.

The Summer Market: The Summer Market has been the hottest since the heydays of housing prior to the Great Recession.

This year has been quite a bit different than a typical summer cycle as demand increased by 5% in the past month. It feels like June, the tail end of the Spring Market, and not at all a typical summer

As expected, the Orange County housing market slowed in July a bit, transitioning from the red hot Spring Market to the beginning of the Summer Market. It was as if housing downshifted a gear, from 5th to 4th; it was still cruising, just not as fast as the spring. August typically looks a lot like July, maybe increasing a smidgeon, but still slower than the peak of the real estate market, March through mid-June. This cyclical phenomenon is easily explained by logically looking at the timing of the year. There are plenty of summertime distractions, especially in Southern California, from splashing around in the waves to traveling on the annual family vacation. The distractions lead to less buyer activity and demand drops. That’s the typical, annual real estate cycle in Orange County. Spring is the busiest time of the year. Summer is the second busiest. Then, there is the Fall and Winter Markets, where demand continues to downshift until it drops to its lowest level of the year by the end of December.

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This year has been quite a bit different as demand increased by 5% in the past month. It feels like June, the tail end of the Spring Market, and not at all a typical summer. Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, increased from 2,783 to 2,935 in the past month. Compare that to last year at this time when demand decreased by 2% from 2,810 to 2,762 (6% less than today’s level). Demand has not been this high since 2012 when it reached 3,544 pending sales; however, 17% were short sales that took a very long time to sell and often never closed. Today, only 1.2% of demand are short sales. Stripping short sales from demand, the last time it was this high dates all the way back to 2005, prior to the great recession.

Many may wonder why housing is so hot this summer. It took the market a while to get to this point. Housing has healed. Foreclosures and short sales are scary stories from the past, currently representing less than 3% of all closed sales. In 2012, they represented 31%. Now that housing has been restored and distressed properties are only an asterisk, the market has been blossoming. Throw in rock bottom interest rates, even lower than last year, and you have a recipe for strong demand. And, it does not look like interest rates are going anywhere fast. The Federal Reserve raised the short term rate for the first time in nine years back in December of last year. They hinted at four more hikes in 2016. So far, NOTHING. It doesn’t appear that there will be a change until December, if at all.

Low interest rates are only part of the reason for hot demand. This year, like every year since 2008, fewer homeowners are opting to sell. There are 30% fewer homes on the market compared to 2000 through 2007. People are staying in their homes a lot longer and are just not moving. On average, the current turnover rate for homeowners is 23 years. That’s a far cry from the days of lore, prior to the Great Recession, when homeowners moved much more frequently.

With a low supply of homes and strong demand, it’s no wonder that there’s a heat wave in housing.

Luxury End: Luxury demand has increased by 11% in the past month.

Demand for homes above $1 million reached a height at the start of May of 542 pending sales. After dropping by 19% by mid-July, totaling 436, it has climbed its way back to 483 pending sales, an 11% increase.

The peak in the Orange County luxury inventory occurred a month ago at 2,756 homes. Since then, the inventory of homes above $1 million has dropped by 3% and now totals 2,666. With elevated demand and fewer luxury homes coming on the market, look for the trend in a falling luxury inventory to continue.

For homes priced between $1 million to $1.5 million, the expected market time dropped from 120 days to 114 in the past two weeks. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time decreased slightly from 162 days to 159 days. For homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time dropped from 334 days to 304 days.

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Active Inventory: The inventory appears to have peaked early.

Typically, the active inventory peaks from mid to late August. But, with stronger demand for this time of year, the inventory has actually been falling over the prior month. More homes placed in escrow means fewer homes that remain within the active inventory. So, the peak occurred in mid-July at 7,329 homes and has since dropped by 34 homes to 7,295.

Last year there were 128 fewer homes on the market, 2% less, totaling 7,167.

Orange County Housing Market Summary:

  • Typically, the active inventory peaks in August, but this year it peaked in mid-July and has since dropped by 34 homes, now totaling 7,295. There are 128 more homes on the market compared to last year at this time.
  • There are 19% fewer homes on the market below $500,000 compared to last year at this time and demand is down by 9% as well. As home values continue to rise, this range is slowly vanishing.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, increased by 2% from 2,866 to 2,935 in the past two weeks. Demand was at 2,762 last year, 6% less than today. The average pending price is $790,569.
  • The average list price for all of Orange County is $1.4 million.
  • For homes priced below $750,000, the market is HOT with an expected market time of just 50 days. This range represents 45% of the active inventory and 67% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 84 days, a slight seller’s market (between 60 and 90 days). A slight seller’s market is one with very little appreciation, but sellers still get to call more of the shots during negotiation. This range represents 19% of the active inventory and 17% of demand.
  • For luxury homes priced between $1 million to $1.5 million, the expected market time is at 114 days, decreasing by 6 days in the past couple of weeks. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time dropped slightly from 162 days to 159 days. For luxury homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time dropped from 334 days to 304 days. The luxury end, all homes above $1 million, accounts for 36% of the inventory and only 16% of demand.
  • The expected market time for all homes in Orange County decreased from 77 to 75 days in the past couple of weeks, a slight seller’s market.
  • Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, make up only 1.8% of all listings and 2.8% of demand. There are 45 foreclosures and 85 short sales available to purchase today, that’s 130 total distressed homes on the active market, dropping by 6 in the past two weeks.
  • There were 2,820 closed sales in July, a 9% drop from June and 13% fewer than last year’s 3,243 closings. The sales to list price ratio was 97.5%. Foreclosures accounted for 1% of all closed sales and short sales accounted for 1.7%. That means that 97.3% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned equity sellers.

 


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Sean McCracken

As the OC Realtor I’ll help you find your special OC Coastal home at that special price. With my hand holding, I’ll take you through the buying process for the minimal amount of pain - Call Me @ 949-290-5317

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