More than six months past New Year’s Eve, the champagne corks are still popping.
Home sales topped $11 billion in Orange County in the first half of this year – the most in a decade. The median sale price hit $629,500 in June, the highest since the housing market peaked in June 2007.
Rising employment and economic confidence, a tight supply of homes for sale and low mortgage interest rates have all fueled buyer demand.
Foreign investors have played a role, too, real estate agents say, especially where the most dramatic leaps in prices and sales occurred, in the priciest third of the market. There, the median home sale price shot up nearly 22 percent.
With equity rising, distressed sales are a distant memory, or, as housing analyst Steven Thomas notes, “nothing more than an asterisk.” In the first half of 2015, he says, equity sellers represented 95 percent of home sales.
Still, not everyone’s up for a party. Housing availability and affordability pose sobering challenges.
“Orange County is building only 28 percent of the housing it needs to keep up with the current pace of job growth,” said John Burns, a national housing consultant based in Irvine.
“There are 50,500 more employed people in Orange County than one year ago, and cities have issued less than 10,000 building permits,” he said. “Rents, home prices and traffic from Riverside are all rising because of the imbalance.”
In April, a nonprofit affordable-housing advocacy group said the high cost of housing here means almost one in four Orange County residents lives in poverty.
“Though generally considered one of California’s wealthiest counties, Orange County actually has one of the highest poverty rates in the state,” said the report by California Housing Partnership Corp. The group wants legislators to increase funding for low-income housing and give tax credits to developers who build it.
Here’s the by-the-numbers look at the first half of the year:
The median home sale price from January through June, representing a 3.4 percent change over the same six-month period in 2014. (CoreLogic)
The number of homes homes sold in the first half of the year, a 7.2 percent jump from the same period last year. (CoreLogic)
The number of homes on the market in late June. At the end of the six-month period a year ago, 7,550 homes were for sale. (ReportsOnHousing.com)
Top home sale recorded in the Multiple Listing Service for the first half of 2015. The three-story house built last year at 8 Coral Ridge is set on a half-acre atop Crystal Cove in Newport Coast. (Multiple Listing Service)
Asking prices for each of the two most expensive residential listings to hit the MLS so far this year. One is Richard Nixon’s Western White House, an oceanfront, 5.45-acre San Clemente estate owned by retired Allergan CEO Gavin S. Herbert. The other is Twin Points, a unique Laguna Beach estate on a lush, 2.3-acre parcel with two headlands projecting hundreds of feet into the Pacific Ocean.
1 in 4
The number of cash buyers in April. The share of Orange County homes purchased without loans was 25.5 percent that month, virtually unchanged from a year earlier, when 25.6 percent of homes in the county were purchased without loans. (CoreLogic)
The asking price for a cottage at 1575 Arroyo Drive in Laguna Beach, one of the few houses for sale in that city for under $1 million. It is the only one we saw that boasted this claim to fame in the listing: It once was a brothel. (The price has been sliced to $849,000.)
The median sale price for new homes, up 6.8 percent from the first half of 2014. (CoreLogic)
How many new homes sold in the first six months compared with last year, a drop of 18.2 percent. (CoreLogic)
This was the size in square feet of the smallest house on the market. Built in 1947, the house at 2156 Myran Drive in Costa Mesa, with one bedroom and one bathroom, sold for $485,000 on April 15. The lot is more roomy – about 10,450 square feet – and held the real value, according to the listing. “Build two houses or a duplex,” the agent suggested.
The June median home sale price of $629,500 came within that amount of catching up with the housing boom’s 2007 price peak. But catching up is a lot harder if you take inflation into account. In fact, Orange County home values are almost $95,000 off the inflation-adjusted peak.
That’s the price tag on the most expensive condo, at 1 Shreve Drive on the grounds of the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. The 2,920-square-foot, ocean-view condo has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen with Viking, Bosch and Sub-Zero appliances, an oversized deck, opulent master suite with a private balcony and a name: Villa Du Soleil. “This special villa was chosen by the original principal owner of Montage as his personal residence,” the listing says.
$1,848 a month
The new average asking price for an apartment in the county is at an all-time high, and 6.9 percent more than a year ago, according to a second-quarter survey from apartment tracker RealFacts. The numbers are based on surveys of complexes of 90 units or more, the priciest third of Orange County’s 427,000 rental units.
$1,703 a month
The average asking rent reported by Reis, up 3.2 percent, or $52 a month, from a year earlier. Because Reis includes buildings as small as 40 units, experts consider its figures to be more representative of the overall market.
The cheapest condo, at 600 W. 3rd St., No. A203 in Santa Ana. Built in 1980, the 768-square-foot unit, with one bedroom and one bathroom, is a short sale, according to the listing.
The cheapest house on the market, at 35 Trabuco Creek Road in Trabuco Canyon, was a cabin six miles down a dirt road. No takers yet.
$11,333 a year
What you may pay in “extra” costs after buying a home here. First-time homebuyers can be caught off guard by so-called hidden costs that can come with homeownership. Buyers focus on the home’s price tag, but Zillow and Thumbtack noted some common expenses that frequently get overlooked when budgeting. They calculated what homeowners may have to spend when adding up such costs as property taxes, homeowners insurance and maintenance in areas around the nation. Bottom line: The average U.S. homeowner could see extra expenses of $9,477 a year.
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