Orange County Housing Report | On The Endangered List

Echelberger Group



Vanishing Lower Ranges: A mind-blowing 29% fewer homes have come on the market below $750,000 so far this year.

Housing is definitely not an exception to increasing prices. In the first quarter of 2012, there were 5,553 closed sales below $750,000, 87% of all sales. It was 71% of all sales in 2016, and 51% last year. In 2021, only 41% of all sales were below $750,000 in the first quarter. As home prices have appreciated over the years, the lower price ranges have dwindled and became a smaller percentage of the housing stock. It is not merely the fact that fewer homeowners within these more affordable price ranges have not placed their homes on the market; instead, it has more to do with home values appreciating and surpassing the lower range thresholds. These ranges are vanishing.
The erosion of more affordable housing has been going on for years. This trend will continue as long as the market remains hot. With a depressed, unfathomably low inventory and unrelenting demand fueled by record-low rates, this sizzling market is poised to continue for quite some time. The torrid pace will remain through the end of 2021 and is poised to endure through 2022 as well.
For buyers anticipating more homes in the affordable price ranges coming on the market soon, it is just not going to happen. The number of opportunities is diminishing over time. Buyers who wait will be confronted with fewer available options to purchase. More and more homes are surpassing the $500,000 and $750,000 thresholds. In 2012, there were 1,941 detached single family residential homes sales below $500,00 in the first quarter, 53% of all detached closed sales, compared to 29 this year, 0.6% of all closings. In 2012, there were 1,001 detached closed sales in the first quarter between $500,000 and $750,000, 27% of all detached closings, versus 721, or 16%, this year. That means that 80% of all detached sales in 2012 were below $750,000. This year, it was just shy of 17%.
The Bottom Line: While it may be challenging to find a home in the lower ranges today, as homes appreciate, it will only become more challenging in the future.

Orange County Housing Market Summary:

  • The active listing inventory decreased by 110 homes in the past two weeks, down 5%, and now totals 2,274, its second-lowest level since tracking began in 2004 behind 2,240 achieved on April 1st. From April 1 to April 15, there were 13% fewer homes that came on the market compared to the 5-year average between 2015 to 2019 (2020 was skewed due to COVID-19), 274 less. Last year, there were 4,625 homes on the market, 2,351 additional homes, or 103% more.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, increased by 11 pending sales in the past two weeks, nearly unchanged, and now totals 3,081. Rates dropped down to below 3% for the first time since February, keeping demand at its current brisk pace. Last year, there were 1,172 pending sales, 62% fewer than today. Keep in mind, it was the start of the pandemic too, which negatively affected demand through May.
  • The Expected Market Time, the number of days to sell all Orange County listings at the current buying pace, decreased from 23 days to 22 in the past couple of weeks, an extremely Hot Seller’s Market (less than 60 days). It was at 118 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 16 days. This range represents 28% of the active inventory and 39% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the Expected Market Time is 15 days, a Hot Seller’s Market. This range represents 18% of the active inventory and 26% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $1 million to $1.25 million, the Expected Market Time is 20 days, a Hot Seller’s Market.
  • For homes priced between $1.25 million to $1.5 million, the Expected Market Time is 23 days, a Hot Seller’s Market.
  • For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the Expected Market Time decreased from 27 to 22 days. For homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the Expected Market Time increased from 45 to 46 days. For homes priced above $4 million, the Expected Market Time decreased from 148 to 137 days.
  • The luxury end, all homes above $1.5 million, accounts for 36% of the inventory and 17% of demand.
  • Distressed homes, both short sales, and foreclosures combined, made up only 0.5% of all listings and 0.3% of demand. There are only 7 foreclosures and 5 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, 12 total distressed homes on the active market, up 1 from two weeks ago. Last year there were 44 total distressed homes on the market, more than today.
  • There were 3,212 closed residential resales in March, 35% more than March 2020s 2,383 closed sales. March marked a 41% rise over February 2021. It was the strongest March closing month since 2005. The sales to list price ratio was 100.3% for all of Orange County. Foreclosures accounted for just 0% of all closed sales, and short sales accounted for 0.09%. That means that 99.91% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned sellers with equity.

To request to read/download the full report and charts, please email [email protected].


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