OC Reports on Housing by Steven Thomas

Orange County Housing Report: Demand Rises

by: Steven Thomas 

May 4, 2020

Good evening!

Buyer demand reached a bottom a couple of weeks ago, and

now it is on the rise.

The real estate industry has adapted to selling homes in this new COVID-19 environment. Buyers view properties wearing protective face masks and disposable, rubber gloves while respecting proper social distancing protocol. Everything else is done electronically, from a list of properties to a comparable market analysis to real estate contracts that grant buyers permission to view and purchase properties. As a result, it is not surprising that demand (the number of pending sales over the prior 30-days) increased by 9% in the past two weeks, growing from 1,080 to 1,172 pending sales.

 

It appears as if the shock of COVID-19 and its impact on demand bottomed two weeks ago and is now on the rise. Expect demand to continue to rise going forward, especially with the added inventive of record low mortgage rates - dropping to an average of 3.23% across the country. With lower rates, homes become much more affordable.

 

For example, in looking at a $700,000 mortgage, the monthly payment at 3.25% is $3,046 per month. That is a $712 per month savings, or $8,544 per year, compared to where rates were in November 2018, just a year-and-a-half ago. The savings are staggering, which helps explain why demand is starting to rise. It is hard to ignore the impact on affordability as rates hit these unprecedented levels.

 

· The active listing inventory increased by 281 homes in the past two-weeks, up 6%, and now totals 4,625, its largest increase of the year. In the past four-weeks, 54% fewer homes were placed on the market compared to the prior 5-year average; thus, COVID-19 is suppressing the inventory. Last year, there were 7,185 homes on the market, 2,560 more than today, a 55% difference.

· Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, increased by 92 pending sales in the past two-weeks, up 9%, and now totals 1,172, its first increase since the “stay at home” order was placed back in March. COVID-19 is continuing to suppress demand; yet, the bottom was reached a couple of weeks ago. Last year, there were 2,653 pending sales, 126%more than today.

 

· The Expected Market Time for all of Orange County decreased from 121 days to 118, a Balanced Market (between 90 and 120 days). The drop was due to the rise in demand outpacing the rise in the supply. It was at 81 days last year, much better than today.

 

· For homes priced below $750,000, the market is a slight Seller’s Market (between 60 and 90 days) with an expected market time of 82 days. This range represents 37% of the active inventory and 53% of demand.

 

· For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 86 days, a slight Seller’s Market. This range represents 19% of the active inventory and 26% of demand.

 

· For homes priced between $1 million to $1.25 million, the expected market time is 165 days, a Buyer’s Market (greater than 150 days).

 

· For luxury homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, in the past two weeks, the Expected Market Time decreased from 205 to 192 days. For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the Expected Market Time decreased from 252 to 229 days. For luxury homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the Expected Market Time increased from 363 to 418 days. For luxury homes priced above $4 million, the Expected Market Time decreased from 1,118 to 586 days.

 

· The luxury end, all homes above $1.25 million, accounts for 33% of the inventory and only 14% of demand.

 

· Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, made up only 1% of all listings and 1.6% of demand. There are only 18 foreclosures and 26 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, 44 total distressed homes on the active market, up3 from two-weeks ago. Last year there were 68 total distressed homes on the market, slightly more than today.

 
  • There were 2,383 closed residential resales in March, 5% more than March 2019’s 2,277 closed sales. March marked a 17% increase compared to February 2020. The sales to list price ratio was 98.4% for all of Orange County. Foreclosures accounted for just 0.4% of all closed sales, and short sales accounted for 0.5%. That means that 99.1% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned sellers with equity.

Have a great week.

Sincerely,
Steven Thomas
Quantitative Economics and Decision Sciences