|Orange County Housing Market Summary:
Housing has been accelerating all year and is officially moving at full speed.
It took a while to ramp up, starting the year with an Expected Market Time of 140 days, a slight Buyer’s Market. (The Expected Market Time is the amount of time it would take for a home that comes on the market today to open up escrow). The market has improved dramatically since, on the backs of dropping interest rates. Back in November, rates nearly reached 5%. They dropped to 4.5% by the start of 2019. They recovered even more at the end of February. As a result, more buyers entered the fray and demand increased by 91% since January 1st. Last year, it improved by 61%.
As the New Year unfolded, the market sped up. By February, it transitioned to a Balanced Market, one that does not favor buyers or sellers. It continued to develop, and the Expected Market Time just dipped to 84 days, a slight Seller’s Market.
Before sellers jump up and down celebrating a return to the housing run, this is not a market with rapid appreciation and multiple offers on every home regardless of the condition. This is not a market where sellers get away with stretching the asking price, where eager buyers are willing to pay a lot more than the most recent comparable sale. The Spring Markets of 2012 through 2018 were all HOT Seller’s Market. The Expected Market Time dropped down to as low as 33 days. That is significantly different than today’s 84 days.
From here, the Expected Market Time will flatten and not change as much as the first couple of months. Do not anticipate a lot more improvement unless interest rates miraculously drop further. The odds of that happening are currently slim to none. Today’s lower interest rates are a gift to prospective buyers. For buyers who are looking at obtaining a $750,000 mortgage, their payment has dropped from a height of $4,026 last November to $3,734 today, a drop of $292 per month, or $3,504 per year.
Today’s housing market is exceptionally interest rate sensitive. Lower rates produce much higher demand, which is where the market is today. Higher rates slow demand. Buyers are enjoying much more favorable rates right now because of a perceived global slowdown, the trade war, uncertainty, and Wall Street volatility. But that can change on a dime. If the trade war were to end, the stock market could get an enormous boost and interest rates would rise.
Advice to Sellers: approach pricing your home with extreme caution. Overpriced homes will sit without success. Currently, there are plenty of homes in every price range that have been sitting for quite some time already. It all boils down to pricing carefully based upon comparable pending and recent closed sales, condition, upgrades, and location. Buyers today want a home to be turnkey and ready to go. Homes with deferred maintenance, or a lack of upgrades, or a poor location, must be priced accordingly. The SLIGHT Seller’s Market means that sellers are able to call more of the shots during negotiations.
Active Inventory: In the past couple of weeks, the active inventory increased by 1%.
In the past two weeks, the active listing inventory increased by 72 homes, up 1%, and now totals 6,366. It is not rising that rapidly because demand has increased tremendously this year while the number of homeowners opting to sell is a bit subdued. So far this year, 4% fewer homeowners have opted to sell compared to 2018.
From here, expect the inventory to slowly rise until it starts picking up momentum at the end of this month. It will then increase at a higher rate with a lot more homeowners deciding to sell as housing rolls deeper into the Spring Market.
Last year at this time there were 4,420 homes on the market. That means that there are 44% more homes available today. This is the highest level of homes on the market for this time of the year since 2012.
Demand: In the past couple of weeks, demand increased by 9%.
Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, continued its rapid rise, increasing by 184 pending sales in the past two weeks, and now totals 2,272. The retreat in interest rates this year has helped demand considerably. Expect demand to continue to slowly rise before peaking sometime in May. From there, demand will slowly diminish through the rest of the Spring and Summer Markets.
Even with the strong increase in demand, it is important to note that the current demand reading continues to be the lowest for this time of the year since 2008. Expect persistent muted demand compared to recent years.
Last year at this time, there were 145 additional pending sales, 6% more than today.
The current Expected Market Time dropped from 90 days to 84 days in the past two weeks, a slight Seller’s Market. It is still the highest reading for this time of the year since 2011. Last year, the Expected Market Time was at 55 days, a HOT Seller’s Market.
Luxury End: Luxury demand soared by 22%.
In the past two-weeks, demand for homes above $1.25 million increased by 62 pending sales, a 22% increase, and now totals 346, its highest level since the end of June 2018. The luxury home inventory increased by 77 homes and now totals 2,014, a 4% increase. The overall expected market time for homes priced above $1.25 million dropped from 205 days to 175 over the past two-weeks, a considerable improvement.
Not sure what this means for you? Contact me and we can go over it in as much detail as you’d like.
Data and comments provided by Steven Thomas, Reports On Housing – All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2019.