Orange County Housing Report | Not About The Price

Echelberger Group


Monthly Mortgage Payment: The low mortgage rate environment has resulted in substantially smaller payments, allowing home prices to rise considerably as well.


Everyone is acutely aware that home prices have been soaring for the past year-and-a-half. They have far exceeded the run-up in values prior to the Great Recession. This has many people on edge, wondering how values can continue to rise beyond their current record highs. In focusing just on prices, it is no wonder they fear an end to the pandemic housing run. Everyone is intensely focused on the prices of homes when the real focus should be the ability to write a check for the monthly mortgage payment.

In analyzing the housing market and where it stands today, home prices are a critical component, yet household incomes and mortgage rates are equally important factors as well. As household incomes rise, families’ monthly paychecks rise. As interest rates drop, home buyers are looking at smaller monthly payments.

Taking a closer look at monthly payments and where they stand today, for a $1 million home and 10% down, a buyer is looking at a monthly payment of $3,843 at today’s 3.1% rate. When rates were lower this year, at 2.75%, it was a savings of $169 per month or $2,028 per year. The 5-year savings would be $10,140. Many expect rates to rise next year to 3.5%. That would be an additional $198 more per month compared to today, or $2,376 per year, or $11,880 over 5-years. At 4%, it would be an additional $5,448 per year, or $27,240 in 5-years. In November 2018, rates reached nearly 5%. That would be an extra $988 per year, or just under $12,000 annually. In 5-years, it accumulates to almost $60,000.

Prior to the Great Recession, mortgage rates were at 6.34%. For a $1 million home, the monthly payment would be $5,594 every single month. The monthly difference of $1,751 per month adds up fast. Annually, it is $21,012 more. In 5-years the difference totals $105,060.

These comparisons put today’s housing run into proper perspective. Rates are not projected to climb to 4% or higher any time soon, yet it is where rates have been in the past. The higher rates were accompanied by lower household incomes as well. Current trend lines indicate that low mortgage rates are here to stay, and household incomes will continue to methodically climb.

Buyers should ultimately approach the home purchasing process by taking a careful look at their family budgets. What a buyer pays should be in alignment with their budget and monthly payment comfort level. After purchasing, buyers will be sitting down and writing a check out to the mortgage company each and every month. After closing escrow, they will no longer care too much about how much they paid for their home. Instead, they will care about the monthly mortgage payment that is deducted from their checking account for the next 30 years.

Orange County Housing Market Summary:

  • The active listing inventory shed 94 homes in the past two weeks, down 6%, and now totals 1,363 homes, its lowest level since tracking. In November, there were 8% fewer homes that came on the market compared to the 3-year average prior to COVID (2017 to 2019), 175 less. Last year, there were 3,152 homes on the market, 1,789 additional homes, or 131% more.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, plunged by 277 pending sales in the past two weeks, down 12%, and now totals 1,944, its largest drop of the year and the lowest level since January. Last year, there were 2,549 pending sales, 31% more than today due to a delay in the Spring Market because of COVID. 
  • With an enormous drop in demand compared to the smaller drop in supply, the Expected Market Time, the number of days to sell all Orange County listings at the current buying pace, increased from 20 to 21 days in the past couple of weeks, an extremely Hot Seller’s Market (less than 60 days). It was at 37 days last year, slower than today. 
  • For homes priced below $750,000, the market is a Hot Seller’s Market (less than 60 days) with an Expected Market Time of 18 days. This range represents 28% of the active inventory and 33% of demand. 
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the Expected Market Time is 14 days, a Hot Seller’s Market. This range represents 18% of the active inventory and 28% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $1 million to $1.25 million, the Expected Market Time is 14 days, a Hot Seller’s Market. This range represents 9% of the active inventory and 13% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $1.25 million to $1.5 million, the Expected Market Time is 18 days, a Hot Seller’s Market. This range represents 7% of the active inventory and 9% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the Expected Market increased from 21 to 24 days. For homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the Expected Market Time increased from 39 to 46 days. For homes priced above $4 million, the Expected Market Time increased from 103 to 112 days.
  • The luxury end, all homes above $1.5 million, accounts for 37% of the inventory and 17% of demand.
  • Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, made up only 0.6% of all listings and 0.4% of demand. There are only 6 foreclosures and 2 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, 8 total distressed homes on the active market, up 1 from two weeks ago. Last year there were 8 total distressed homes on the market, same as today.
  • There were 2,570 closed residential resales in November, 10% less than November 2020’s 2,843 closed sales. For the year, through November, there have been 32,669 closed sales, 20% higher than last year. September marked a 7% drop compared to October 2021. The sales to list price ratio was 101.1% for all of Orange County. Foreclosures accounted for just 0.2% of all closed sales, and short sales accounted for 0.2%. That means that 99.6% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned sellers with equity.


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We realize the purchase and sale of real estate property is probably one of the most important transactions that a person can make. We’ve built our business and outstanding reputation by helping our clients navigate through the process efficiently and professionally from start to finish.

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