ORANGE COUNTY HOUSING REPORT: Not only have the clocks changed, so has the housing market.The best conditions to sell a home are right now. It is that time of the year again. The hills are a dazzling green. Trees are beginning to bud new leaves. Flowers are opening their petals for the first time. Hummingbirds are feeding on the sweet nectar from birds-of-paradise. The season is changing and so is the housing market.
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 down the road. 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, dipping to 4.35% by 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.