Orange County Housing Report: Vanishing Into Thin Air
The lower end of the housing market is not only disappearing,
it is impacting pending and closed sales.
Vanishing Lower Ranges: A mind-blowing 15% fewer homes have come on the market below $750,000 so far this year compared to 2017.
The market has been blistering hot for years now. For homes priced below $750,000, it has been a hot seller’s market (an expected market time less than 60-days) since October 2015. Home prices have appreciated dramatically for six solid years. As a result, there are only a handful of detached homes priced below $500,000 today, 55 to be precise, or 1% of the active listing inventory. Back in January 2012, there were 1,806, 22% of the active inventory. Detached homes below $500,000 have essentially disappeared. Similarly, there are only 69 condominiums, 1.5% of the active inventory, priced below $250,000 today. At the beginning of 2012, there were 1,413, 17% of the inventory. Condominiums below $250,000 is a thing of the past.
The story of the disappearing lower end has been evolving. With housing continuing to appreciate, there are now fewer detached homes available below $750,000. It is 13% of all available homes to purchase today compared to 38% in 2012. Relatedly, there are fewer condominiums priced below $500,000, only 13% of today’s inventory compared to 33% in 2012.
The numbers illustrate just how staggering the shortage of lower range homes has become in 2018. So far this year, 20% fewer properties have been placed on the market priced below $500,000 compared to 2017. As a result, there have been 29% fewer closed sales in this price range. The difference is significant. This is precisely why there are so many buyers sitting around waiting for homes to come on the market; there simply are not enough homes in the lower ranges.
For homes priced between $500,000 and $750,000, there have been 12% fewer homes to come on the market in 2018 compared to 2017. Closed sales are down by 5% in this price range.
There was a similar storyline last year. Fewer homes were coming on the market in the lower ranges. Yet, it did not impact closed sales. Despite 6% fewer homes year over year that came on the market in 2017, closed sales were nearly identical, up by 0.6%.
Something is distinctly different this year; total sales are down this year compared to last year. Last year, closed sales above $750,000 made up the difference of fewer closed sales in the lower ranges. Not this year. The upper ranges are not making up the difference. There are 5% fewer homes (all price ranges) that came on the market compared to the same time last year; and, there are 6% fewer closed sales. The lack of opportunities below $750,000 is affecting the total number of closed sales in Orange County.
The erosion of more affordable housing has been going on for years. The below $750,000 range was 84% of all closed sales back in 2012. It dropped to 62% last year. Through March of 2018, it has dropped to 59% of all closings. This trend will only continue as long as the market remains hot. With a depressed inventory and unrelenting demand, this sizzling market is poised to continue for quite some time.
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.
Active Inventory: The active inventory only added 99 homes in the past two weeks.
The active listing inventory continued its climb in the past two weeks, just at a slower pace, adding 99 homes, up 2%, and now totals 4,708. The active inventory had been increasing at a very fast pace, but not in the past two weeks. Expect the inventory to continue to climb as the market moves deeper into the Spring and Summer Markets, peaking sometime between July and August.
Demand: Demand increased by an unimpressive 3% in the past two weeks.
In comparing the active inventory to last year, the difference was shrinking after a very anemic start to the year. The difference was down to 107 homes two weeks ago. But, after adding a meager 2% to the inventory in the past two weeks, the difference grew to 308 homes. There were 5,016 homes last year at this time, 7% more than today’s level.
Last year, demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, increased by 11% at this time of the year. This year, demand increased by only 3%, adding 64 pending sales over the past couple of weeks, and now totals 2,602. The last time demand was above the 2,600 pending sale level was back in August 2017. The Spring Market is here, just not at the same pace as the past few years. Roll the clock back to 2014 to find similar levels, which was the slowest year in terms of sales in the 6 year run in housing. There were 11% fewer closed sales in 2014 compared to 2017. With fewer pending sales in the lower price ranges, demand is taking a bit of a hit in 2018. If this trend continues, it could impact total sales for the year.
Last year at this time, demand was at 2,957 pending sales, 14% more than today.
The expected market time, the amount of time it would take for a home that comes onto the market today to be placed into escrow down the road, remained at 54 days in the past two weeks, a hot, seller’s market. Last year at this time, the expected market time was at 51 days, a bit hotter than today.
Luxury End: The luxury inventory increased while demand remained the same.
In the past two weeks, demand for homes above $1.25 million remained at 353 pending sales. The luxury home inventory increased from 1,797 homes to 1,859, up 3%. Last year at this time, luxury demand was increasing rapidly and the overall expected market time was falling fast. Not this year. A new trend may be emerging, a slower luxury market; or, it may be just a blip on the radar. Only time will tell. With an increase in the inventory and unchanged demand, the overall expected market time for all homes priced above $1.25 million increased from 153 to 158 days over the past two-weeks.
Orange County Housing Market Summary:
For homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, the expected market time increased from 88 to 95 days. For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the expected market time increased from 142 to 155 days. For homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the expected market time decreased from 202 days to 187. For homes priced above $4 million, the expected market time increased from 296 to 313 days. At 313 days, a seller would be looking at placing their home into escrow around mid-February 2019.
- The active listing inventory increased by 99 homes in the past two weeks, up 2%, and now totals 4,708. Expect the inventory to increase from now through mid-Summer. Last year, there were 5,016 homes on the market, 308 more than today.
- This year, 20% fewer homes have come on the market below $500,000 today compared to last year, and there have been 29% fewer closed sales so far this year. 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 in the past two-weeks by 64 pending sells, up 3%, and now totals 2,602. Last year, there were 2,957 pending sales, 14% more than today.
- The average list price for all of Orange County remained at $1.8 million over the past two weeks. 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 32 days. This range represents 34% of the active inventory and 57% of demand.
- For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 43 days, a hot seller’s market (fewer than 60 days). This range represents 18% of the active inventory and 22% of demand.
- For homes priced between $1 million to $1.25 million, the expected market time is 68 days, a slight seller’s market (between 60 and 90 days).
- For luxury homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, the expected market time increased from 88 days to 95. For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the expected market time increased from 142 to 155 days. For luxury homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the expected market time decreased from 202 days to 187 days. For luxury homes priced above $4 million, the expected market time increased from 296 to 313 days.
- The luxury end, all homes above $1.25 million, accounts for 39% of the inventory and only 14% of demand.
- The expected market time for all homes in Orange County remained at 54 days in the past two weeks, a hot seller’s market (fewer than 60 days). From here, we can expect the market time to remain below 60-days through May.
- Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, make up only 0.8% of all listings and 1.5% of demand. There are only 18 foreclosures and 21 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, that’s 39 total distressed homes on the active market, unchanged in the past two weeks. Last year there were 78 total distressed sales, 100% more than today.
- There were 2,613 closed residential resales in March, down by 6% from March 2017’s 2,792 closed sales. March marked a 44% increase from February 2018. The sales to list price ratio was 97.6% for all of Orange County. Foreclosures accounted for just 0.5% of all closed sales, and short sales accounted for 0.6%. That means that 98.9% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned sellers with equity.
Have a great week.
Quantitative Economics and Decision Sciences