Orange County Housing Report: An Early 2017 Peak
A low inventory peak means a hot seller’s market for quite some time.
Orange County Housing Report August 15th, 2017
Active Inventory Peak: the active inventory has been low for years, but this year it has been exceptionally low.
The Orange County housing market has been frustrating buyers for years now and 2017 has proved to be especially frustrating. With 7% fewer FOR SALE signs this year compared to last year, there just have not been enough homes to satiate the voracious appetite of buyers.
As a result of low inventory and off-the-chart demand, Orange County homes have appreciated non-stop since 2012. In the past year alone (July ’17 over July ’16), the median sales price has risen by 5.5%, and since 2012 has risen by 80%. Even with a rising median sales price, the historically low interest rate environment is keeping homes affordable. And, interest rates are projected to remain low for the rest of the year and into 2018 as well.
An anemic inventory is only going to fuel future appreciation. Buyers will continue to compete with limited choices and multiple offers will persist, especially in the lower ranges, homes priced below $750,000. The inventory will remain low for quite some time because the active listing inventory peaked about a month ago, not quite reaching the 6,000 home mark. For perspective, the active inventory needs to remain above 8,000 homes for quite some time in order for the housing market to move from a seller’s market to a balanced market, one that does not favor a buyer or seller.
In the past couple of weeks, the active inventory shed 90 homes and now totals 5,877. The peak occurred a month ago at 5,983 homes. Last year’s peak was at 7,329 homes, 22% higher, or 1,346 more FOR SALE signs than this year. There are significantly fewer homes on the market throughout Orange County. The difference is substantial in certain areas of the county. For example, in Aliso Viejo there are 40% fewer homes on the market today compared to 2016 at this time. There are 79 available homes compared to 131. It was challenging finding a home last year, but this year has been significantly worse. With the exception of four areas, Corona del Mar, Cypress, Dana Point, and Portola Hills, there simply are not enough homes on the market compared to a year ago today.
This year’s peak is the lowest peak since Reports On Housing started tracking the local housing market back in 2004. Keeping that in mind, where will the Orange County housing market go from here? First, the active inventory will continue to drop though the end of the year, picking up steam in September. By that point, housing will have moved onto the Autumn Market when fewer homeowners will opt to place their homes on the market with the best time of the year to sell, the Spring and Summer Markets, officially in the rearview mirror.
With such a low peak, the expected seasonal drop in the inventory from now until New Year’s will result in a very anemic start to 2018. It may dip to the record lows of 2013, when there were only 3,161 homes to start the year. Quite simply, there were not enough homes to keep up with the strong demand and bidding wars escalated during the spring. That could be the case this coming year in spite of high prices. Additionally, the low interest rate environment will help fuel another crazy start to the Orange County housing market.
Demand: Demand increased by 2% in the past couple of weeks.
Demand, the number of homes placed into escrow within the prior month, increased by 55 pending sales, or 2%, in the past two-weeks and now totals 2,890. Demand is either near the same or considerably higher in every price range except for properties priced below $500,000. With 41% fewer homes available below $500,000 compared to this time last year, it is no wonder that demand is off by 20% year over year in this range.
Last year at this time, demand was at 2,935 pending sales, 45 more than today. The expected market time was at 75 days. The current expected market time dropped from 63 days two weeks ago to 61 today. At 61 days, the market is not quite a HOT seller’s market, but a tepid seller’s market with muted appreciation (60 to 90 days).
Luxury End: Luxury demand dropped by 1% in the past couple of weeks and the inventory increased by only 7 homes.
In the past two weeks, demand for homes above $1.25 million decreased from 373 to 369 pending sales, a 1% drop, the. The luxury home inventory increased from 2,065 homes to 2,072, nearly the same. The luxury end is not evolving that much right now.
For homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, the expected market time increased from 101 to 110 days. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time dropped from 135 to 130 days. In addition, for homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time decreased from 280 days to 278 days. At 278 days, a seller would be looking at placing their home into escrow around mid-May of next year.
Orange County Housing Market Summary:
- The active listing inventory decreased by 90 homes in the past couple of weeks, and now totals 5,877, a 2% drop. It officially reached a peak a month ago and is now slowly dropping. The inventory never reached 6,000 homes this year. Last year, there were 7,295 homes on the market, 1,418 more than today.
- There are 41% fewer homes on the market below $500,000 today compared to last year at this time and demand is down by 20%. Fewer and fewer homes and condominiums are now priced below $500,000. This price range is slowly disappearing.
- Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, increased by 55 homes in the past couple of weeks, and now totals 2,890. The average pending price is $844,699.
- The average list price for all of Orange County remained at $1.6 million. This number is high due to the mix of homes in the luxury ranges that sit on the market and do not move as quickly as the lower end.
- For homes priced below $750,000, the market is HOT with an expected market time of just 39 days. This range represents 39% of the active inventory and 62% of demand.
- For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 56 days, a hot seller’s market (less than 60 days). This range represents 18% of the active inventory and 19% of demand.
- For homes priced between $1 million to $1.25 million, the expected market time is 81, a tepid seller’s market with very little appreciation.
- For luxury homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, the expected market time increased from 101 days to 110. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time decreased from 135 to 130 days. For luxury homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time decreased from 280 to 278 days.
- The luxury end, all homes above $1.25 million, accounts for 36% of the inventory and only 13% of demand.
- The expected market time for all homes in Orange County dropped in the past couple of weeks from 63 days to 61 days, a tepid seller’s market (60 to 90 days). From here, we can expect the market time to slowly rise as housing transitions into the Autumn Market.
- Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, make up only 1.5% of all listings and 2.3% of demand. There are only 31 foreclosures and 57 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, that’s 88 total distressed homes on the active market, identical to two weeks ago. Last year there were 130 total distressed sales, 47% more than today.
- There were 2,766 closed sales in July, a 14% drop over June 2017 and a 1.9% decrease over July 2016. The sales to list price ratio was 98.2% for all of Orange County. Foreclosures accounted for just 0.8% of all closed sales and short sales accounted for 0.8%. That means that 98.4% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned equity sellers.