Snap shot of Orange County Real Estate Market 2-25-08

By
Real Estate Agent with Re/Max Select One RED CARPET GROUP

This report is a snapshot of the market today.  In comparing it to prior snapshots, we can pinpoint trends that won't reach the pages of a newspaper or the teleprompter of a newscast for weeks, if not months, down the road.  The data often confirms the buzz among the agents working in the trenches of the real estate market.  Here's the buzz:  increased open house activity; many buyers climbing in cars who are extremely cognizant of value; plenty of short sales; more realistic sellers on the market; and, homeowners opting to NOT market their homes as they are acutely aware of the current market conditions.  Let's see if the "buzz" correlates with the data.  Demand, the number of homes placed into escrow within the prior month, increased by 49% over the past month from 1,219 to 1,820 escrows.  We have not seen demand at this level in six months, since just before the beginning of the credit crunch in mid-August.  The current active inventory climbed by only 147 homes in the past month to 15,392 homes, only a 1% increase.  With the active inventory virtually unchanged, coupled with a sharp increase in demand, the expected market time has dropped substantially over the course of the past month from 12.51 to 8.46 months today.  We started off the year with a 15.60 month inventory, almost double today's snapshot.  By no means am I insinuating that sellers should be jumping for joy with the return of a seller's market, since for most economists, anything over a six month inventory is dubbed a "buyer's market."  "Equilibrium" is a market between five and six months.  A "seller's market" doesn't even register until the market time drops below five months.  But, there are a few cities below the six month mark:  Aliso Viejo, Anaheim Hills, Brea, Foothill Ranch, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo.  To be fair, there are a few areas that are still in a deep buyer's market with over a year in inventory:  Coto de Caza, Laguna Beach, La Habra, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Portola Hills, San Juan, Santa Ana and Villa Park.  Most of these cities will improve as the credit crunch begins to release its stronghold in the coming weeks and months.  Last year at this time there were 12,194 homes on the market, demand was at 2,654 escrows and the market time was at 4.59 months.  Two years ago, there were 9,038 homes on the market, demand was at 2,892 escrows and the market time was at 3.13 months.

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