South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs

Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs Size matters when you are buying your next home. Whether you plan to expand your family, need more room for your stuff, or are concerned with resale value, you want to get the most space for your money. Also, if you want to add a feel of luxury to your home, one of the best ways to do it is to create open spaces rather than cramming all your furniture in rooms so tiny you can barely walk around without knocking something over.

Traditionally speaking, the larger a home is, the more it costs. If there are two newly built houses side by side in a subdivision, the bigger one is likely to cost more. However, there are some tricks to finding spacious houses that are affordable.

Choose Emerging Neighborhoods

Houses in this year’s trending neighborhood are at their peak prices. Clever buyers look for neighborhoods that are in the process of being gentrified, buying at the bottom rather than the top of the market, to get more house for their money.

Fix It Up

Houses in perfect condition, that show well, sell for a premium. If you want to get more house for your money, choose something that needs a bit of TLC. A house that has pink walls and orange shag carpet might appear just too ugly to consider when you first view it, but it might just need a few coats of paint and some new carpet to become a spacious dream home.

Do Some Finishing

Unfinished areas such as attics and basements can be finished to create additional living spaces. The basement could become a family room and the attic an extra bedroom or study. An unfinished space can become the extra bathroom you need to make morning more manageable.

Consider an Addition

Contractors can add rooms to a house. If you have a large lot, you can build an extra wing. With a one story ranch house, it may be possible to raise the roof and add a second story.

The more stuff you have, the smaller your home appears. Reduce clutter and invest in smaller condo size furniture to give even the smallest home the appearance of spaciousness.

Ready to Go Bigger? ( Or Maybe Even Smaller?)

Give me a call – (949) 887-5305 or shoot me an email BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com  and let’s talk about your options.

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Thinking About Buying Rental Properties?

4_Quick_Tips_On_Becoming_A_Young_Real_Estate_InvestorThinking About Buying Rental Properties?

While housing is still very affordable in many areas of the country, it seems like a good time to purchase real estate as an investment — that is, to own rental property. Should the average American consider this as a legitimate means to grow their financial portfolio?

In a word, yes. Even during the housing recession you heard the experts maintaining that real estate was still a valuable investment. There are many reasons to take the plunge and invest in rental properties. Here are a few.

It’s a good time to buy property. Rates and property prices are generally low right now, which means you can get a great mortgage rate and a good price on a property you like. But rates and prices are slowly building all across the country. This is both a plus and a minus: every eighth of a point rise in rates means your purchase power goes down. You’ll get less property for the money, and as home prices rise you’ll pay more for less as well. But keep in mind

that property you purchase now will cost more in the future. As the market continues to recover, your investment should appreciate steadily.

Your expenses are offset in several ways. By buying a property and renting it out, your tenants will be covering a large portion of the costs you incur. Over time, rents will increase as you pay off the mortgage, leaving more income as profit. In addition, you’ll benefit from tax breaks and incentives* on depreciation and expenses.

Appreciation works in your favor. Your investment will be appreciating on the entire value of the property. If you put 25% down on a $400,000 property, you may be paying 4.5% interest on the 75% you borrow, but a 3% appreciation on the value of the property is on the entire $400,000, not just the $100,000 you put down. Compare that to your return on an investment in the stock market.

Diversity in your investment portfolio is a good idea. See above. And remember that by spreading out your investments, you’re more likely to reap the benefits of a changing economy.

You can invest in your retirement. If your $400,000 investment appreciates 3% per year for the next 20 years, just think of what you can do with the money when you sell the property upon your retirement. Or perhaps you bought a property you would want to retire to.

It’s true that being a landlord can be stressful for many people. However, the benefits of investing in property usually outweigh the negatives for most landlords. I am always available to review your goals and to help you determine the strategy and options that can benefit you the most. In addition, I’m also experienced with the management of rental properties and am available to relieve you of that chore.

Call, text, ( 949-887-5305 ) or email me ( BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com ) today to start to explore the possibilities.

*I am not a tax advisory expert. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and may not reflect current tax year rules and regulations. Consult your tax advisor or the IRS for current tax year rules, restrictions and regulations.

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Southern California Rents Are UP

prices-upShould You rent or buy? This is a question many would-be homeowners ask themselves. All too often You are left with the thought that owning is simply unaffordable. Fortunately, I have news for anyone who is “on the fence” about buying or renting; the decision to buy might become a little easier, as a new study from USC  predicts that rents will rise over the next two years.

According to the research performed by USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate, rents across Southern California are expected to rise significantly by 2016 – the latest reminder of growing affordability difficulties throughout California.

In Los Angeles County, it’s expected rents will jump by 8.2% by 2016, increasing to an average monthly rent of $1,856. Similarly, rents are expected to increase by 8.6%, 9.9% and 6.9% across Orange County, the Inland Empire and San Diego County respectively.

On average, the SoCal region is expected to see an 8% bump, increasing faster than the 3%-4% rise we’ve seen this year, or more than 10% since January 2013.

What impact will higher rent have on the housing market? While the study from USC suggests that rental vacancy rates will slightly decline, many RE professionals are certain that this bump will be enough to drive some renters back into the buying market.

Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center, commented on the matter saying, “Though the economy and employment have improved, renters’ incomes are stagnant. So while net absorption and occupancy rates are moving in the right direction, affordability continues to worsen.”

In South Orange County, we are presently entering the Fall buying season, during which prices tend to become more negotiable. ( I usually recommend this time of year – until the end of January – as THE best time of the year to buy a house.)  Softer, more negotiable prices, combined with historically low interest rates, make for an unusually good environment, for buyers.  If you’re even just in the thinking about it stage, this might be a good time to get serious, and give me a call.

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Updating New Home Sales, Existing Home Sales, And The Rental Market

DOC New Home Sales and NAR Existing Home SalesThe Department of Commerce reported July sales of new homes dropped by 2.40 percent over June to a four month low. Analysts noted that although July’s reading of 412,000 new homes sold fell short of expectations and June’s reading, the new homes sector is volatile and subject to change.

June’s reading of 406,000 new homes sold was revised to 422,000 new homes sold; expectations were based on the original reading. Three of four regions posted a slower rate of growth for home prices with only the South posting a gain.

The average price of a new home in the U.S. rose to $269,800, which is 2.90 percent higher than June’s average home price. Inventories of new homes increased to a six-month level based on current sales pace.

This was the highest inventory of new homes available since 2011. Strict mortgage credit requirements and an elevated national unemployment rate contributed to the lower rate of home value appreciation and higher inventories of new homes.

The good news: New home sales increased by 12.90 percent year-over-year in July.

There are presently quite a few areas where you can buy a new home in Orange County, primarily though, in South County. There are pocket communities in Tustin, Irvine, Lake Forest, as well as the entirely new community just South of Ladera Ranch, Rancho Mission Viejo.

Existing Home Sales Rise: Steady Mortgage Rates, Rising Rents Cited

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that July sales of previously-owned homes rose from June’s revised figure of 5.03 million sales to 5.15 million sales and achieved the highest reading for 2014.

The existing home sales readings are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Existing home sales were 4.30 percent lower than for July 2013, which had the highest reading for existing home sales in 2013.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that a growing inventory of available pre-owned homes for sale and strengthening labor markets contributed to sales growth. Mr. Yun said that July’s pace of sales was expected to continue based on mortgage rates holding steady and rising rents for apartments.

The inevitable rise of mortgage rates and increasing home prices were cited as factors that could cool existing home sales in coming months. With the Fed scheduled to complete its asset purchase program in October and changes to the Fed’s target federal funds rate expected within months, mortgage rates are expected to rise. Affordability looms as an obstacle to sales; home prices continue to rise as wages grow at a slower pace than home prices.

The national median price for existing homes was $222,900, which was a year-over-year increase of 4.90 percent. This was the 29th consecutive month for year-over-year price gains for existing homes. The inventory of existing homes for sale increased by 3.50 percent to 2.37 million available homes and represents a 5.50 month supply. Unsold inventory of existing homes is 5.80 percent higher year-over-year. As compared to July 2013’s reading of 2.24 million available pre-owned homes.

Homes sold through foreclosure or short sales have steeply declined from 36 percent of existing home sales in 2009 to approximately 9 percent in July and were down from 15 percent of existing home sales in June. ( In Orange County, the percentage of distressed property sales is less than 5%.)

The South Orange County Rental Market is Booming

While both the local new home, and the existing home market’s have slowed considerably as we enter the fall, the rental market has remained quite strong. I have been seeing increases of 7-10% in the rental prices over the past year. Many of my clients who have moved up into a bigger house – if they had the wherewithal – have kept their former home and turned it into a rental. as part of my advice. In almost every case, I’ve been able to get tenants moving in, no longer than a week after my clients moved out.

Vacancy factors have been practically non-existent, as I have also had great success replacing former tenants who have moved on – almost always within a week of the past tenants moving out. The management of rental properties has become an increasingly higher percentage of my business, and my clients have been happily increasing their net worth, with the holding onto, or the acquisition of additional rentals. This is an excellent time to either be, or to become, a landlord.

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Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips, Home buying, Homebuyer Tips, Orange County Real Estate, Real Estate Tips by southorangecounty on August 20, 2014

buyersBuying a home is a huge step for people who are ready to make an investment in their future. Getting a great deal on a home is just as important and knowing how much to offer could be confusing. It is important to make sure   the home seller is not insulted by a low offer and is ready to negotiate to make sure everyone wins.

Make a List of Necessary Improvements

One of the best ways to validate a lower offer on a home is to list improvements that need to be made to the property. If the home needs a new roof or a new heating and air conditioning system, these are reasons to offer less than the asking price. Sometimes a home may also need new flooring, paint, or matching appliances which all cost money. The buyer can make a lower offer stating the additional expenses of making sure the home is move in ready.

Explain Any Issues with the Location

Another option when considering a lower offer is to point out problems with the location. If the home is on a busy street or close to something equally undesirable, the buyer has legitimate concerns. In the offer, list the potential problems of living too close to fast food restaurants, train tracks, or airports. A less desirable location could equal a great buy on a new home.

Provide Pricing for Comparable Homes in the Area

A knowledgeable real estate agent can help compare homes that have sold in the area. When you are writing up a lower offer, look at the lower priced homes that have sold in the same neighborhood. A seller will quickly realize that if he wants to sell the home, he will need to accept a reasonable offer or risk letting his house sit on the market for weeks or months.

Consider the Seller’s Reasons for Selling

Finally, the seller’s situation can also be key in getting a good deal on a home. If the seller is anxious to sell because of a job relocation or if he has already bought a new home this can be the perfect reason to make a lower offer and take the home off the seller’s hands. Without insulting the seller, the buyer can make an offer for less than the asking price and agree to a quick closing.

The Right Agent Can Make a Huge Difference

I’ve been successfully representing buyers in South Orange County since 1976 – almost 38 years! In that time I’ve been able to negotiate some excellent buys, for most of my buyer clients. If you are thinking of buying your next home, I would be honored to be considered as your agent.

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Experiencing ‘Purchase Anxiety’? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New Home

Experiencing 'Purchase Anxiety'? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New HomeWhether this is your first big purchase, or your family is moving to a new location or looking for more space, buying a home has its share of ups and downs.

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious about whether or not you’ve found the right property. Here are some things you can do to make yourself feel more secure with your decision.

Do The Math

You’ve probably already done this, but it’s okay to go over it a number of times to be sure. Factor in your household income and all the bills you expect to pay every month. Add everything up.

It sounds like a stressful activity, but when you look at the numbers and realize that buying a home is actually doable, it can be a liberating feeling.

When you know for sure you can make it as a homeowner without getting underwater, you will feel more confident.

Meet The Neighbors

If you haven’t had the chance to knock on a couple of doors yet, you should spend some time saying hello to people in the neighborhood. The more you can get to talking with families that are just like yours, the more you will be able to picture yourself as a member of the community.

If you have kids, find out if there are other kids the same age nearby. That will help to ease their anxiety about moving as well.

Ask Your Agent

Don’t feel like you are being overly cautious if you ask your real estate agent and or mortgage professional your lingering questions. Make sure you’re getting a good price for the area, and make sure you know about any issues with the condition of the property.

You should be able to trust that your realtor and mortgage professional are excited for your decision.

Familiarize Yourself With The Neighborhood

Take a drive and figure out which stores you’re nearest to, the route you can take to get to work, and which other amenities you might take advantage of. Home buyers often underestimate how important living in a safe neighborhood with plenty of accessible businesses can be.

The more you can imagine yourself living at your new address, the better you will feel.

Remember, never sign the papers on a new home unless you feel one hundred percent secure in your buying decision.

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Orange County Housing Report: Bumping Along a Ceiling

aThe following is today’s Orange County Housing Report, from my local economist friend Steven Thomas.

Pushing the ceilingOrange County Housing Report: Bumping Along a Ceiling,  August 3, 2014

With the best time of the year to sell coming to a quick end, Orange County appreciation is coming  to an end. 

A Ceiling in Values: Sellers are learning the hard way that they can no longer arbitrarily set the price.

Buyers, sellers, REALTORS®, lenders, and everybody else involved within real estate know that there is a palpable difference in the 2014 real estate market. The number of homes fetching multiple offers is shrinking drastically. Homes are sitting on the market. The expected market time is on the rise. The active inventory has been growing all year and  just surpassed the 8,000 home mark, just a few hundred short of a long term county average.

The lesson for 2014 is that sellers cannot price their homes on a whim, on what they would like to walk away with from the sale of their home. 2012 and 2013 were completely different. In those years, values were skyrocketing. When that occurred, sellers were able to price their homes above recent sales. They dealt with multiple offers and often sold for more than their list prices. That simply is not the case anymore; yet, sellers continue to adopt that strategy and overprice their homes.

What changed? Values reached a level where buyers were no longer comfortable paying much more than the most recent sale. They wanted to pay what is “fair,” also known as the Fair Market Value. This explains why month to month appreciation has stalled. Unfortunately, news outlets across the country mainly report on year over year statistics; whereas, month to month statistics tell the real story. Orange County’s headlines highlighted a 10% increase in the median sales price year over year in June. Drill down a little bit deeper, when you remove new home sales, residential detached houses are up 6.6% and condominiums are only up 4.2%. That’s the difference in a year. Most important, month to month appreciation is flat.

With flat appreciation, the Orange County housing market is bumping along a value ceiling. And, the Autumn Market is right around the corner. Cyclically, housing cools a bit after the kids go back to school. It will cool further during the Holiday Market, from Thanksgiving through the first few weeks of the New Year.

When the market bounces along a value ceiling, occasionally there is a sale in a neighborhood that neighbors get really excited about and are lured to jump into the housing fray. Typically, they price above that sale in hopes that they can get more. They also add an additional amount leaving “room for negotiating.” Remember, this is a market where buyers do not want to pay too much for a home. So, the home sits on the market. Eventually, after one or two reductions, they arrive at or near the sales price of the home that motivated them to sell in the first place. Surprisingly, they still are unable to sell and just sit on the market longer. It could be condition, location, or upgrades, but often it is that buyers do not want to match the price of that most recent sale. After viewing similar properties, potential buyers feel that another buyer simply overpaid. That can still happen today, but just because one buyer is willing to stretch the value, the vast majority are not. The bottom line: when a home sits on the market even though it is priced at or near a recent closed sale, the price is too high.

As we bounce along a ceiling, sellers should price their homes realistically right from the start, taking into consideration the most recent sales, all pending sales, their condition, location, and upgrades. DO NOT PRICE BASED UPON OTHER LISTINGS; instead, know your competition, but price according to pending and closed sales. There are neighborhoods where every single home on the market is overpriced. In that case, instead of the lowest priced home selling, everybody will sit on the market with absolutely no success.

Active Inventory: The active inventory increased by 3% in the past two weeks and pushed past the 8,000 home mark.

8-3-14-active inventory-y-o-y

The active listing inventory added an additional 231 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 8,057. That’s the first time the inventory has been above 8,000 homes since January 2012, 2½ years ago. Thus far in 2014 the inventory has grown without pause, adding an additional 3,324, a 70% increase, and is poised to continue to increase through the end August. Keep in mind, in order for the active inventory to grow, more home need to be placed on the market than are coming off as pending sales.

Last year at this time there were 5,522 homes on the market, 2,535 fewer than today.

DemandDemand increased by 2% in the past two weeks.

8-3-14-demand

Demand, the number of new pending sales over the past month, increased by 48 now totals 2,549. After an initial small dip in demand in July, it will slightly rise in August. Last year at this time demand was at 2,707, 158 additional pending sales compared to today.

Distressed Breakdown: The distressed inventory increased by 5% in the past two weeks.

The distressed inventory, foreclosures and short sales combined, increased by 13 homes and now totals 294, its highest level since December of last year. The distressed inventory started the year at 271, so it really has not changed much. The long term trend is for it to remain at a very low level. Last month, they represented only 5% of all closed sales.

In the past two weeks, the number of active foreclosures increased by 2 homes and now totals 78. Only 1% of the active inventory is a foreclosure. The expected market time for foreclosures is 65 days. The short sale inventory increased by 11 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 216. The expected market time is 48 days and remains one of the hottest segments of the Orange County market. Short sales represent 3% of the total active inventory. ( End of Steven’s report.)

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Million-dollar home sales hit seven-year high in California

An article by Tim Logan, of the L.A. Times, 7/31/2014

stone-tuscanThe number of homes that sold for $1 million or more in California hit a seven-year high in the second quarter, and sales north of $2 million reached a new record.

That’s according to new figures from San Diego-based DataQuick, which tracks local housing markets in the state. They found million-dollar-plus sales grew at a 9.1% clip statewide compared with last year, while sales overall fell 7.4%.

Several factors are driving the high-end liftoff, market-watchers say.

One is the hot technology sector in the Bay Area and some affluent parts of Southern California, which is minting new millionaires who can afford seven-figure homes. Another is the 11.6% price growth in California over the last year, which means a house worth $925,000 last summer may be worth $1,032,300 today. And there’s the influx of international buyers, which is pushing up prices at the high end.

Then there’s that old saw that the rich are just different than you and me, especially in a time when credit is tight and the job market remains soft for many middle-income home buyers.

“It’s always fascinating to watch this part of the real estate market. It behaves differently, responds to its own set of criteria,” said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. “These buyers, especially those in the multi-million-dollar market, are less likely to agonize over credit scores, income and job security, down payments and mortgage interest rates.”

Of course, in the most desirable parts of coastal California, a million-dollar home is rather routine. Half of all homes sold in San Francisco County in June exceeded $1 million, according to DataQuick, and parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties regularly cross into seven figures.

The market for even higher-priced homes is even hotter. While there were more million-dollar homes being sold here in the mid-2000s than today, California in the second quarter set all-time records for the number of homes sold for more than $2 million, more than $3 million, more than $4 million and more than $5 million.

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Altos: Critics wrong about housing, it’s going to soar in 2015!

An interesting new article from Jacob Gaffney, of HousingWire.com, dated July 29, 2014:

HotAirBalloonWith so many fists beating on the housing-is-facing-ruin door, Altos Research is set to release data that claims all that pounding is in vain.

Clients will begin receiving a report Wednesday afternoon, but HousingWire was able to get a sneak peek, and the results say that housing recovery critics are wrong about housing. According to Altos, it’s going to soar in 2015.

“While we see signs of demand easing, we are significantly more bullish on housing than many of the recent headlines seem to suggest,” said Altos CEO Michael Simonsen. “Based on our models, we’re forecasting another year of home price appreciation, with a 7% home price increase for the year of 2015.”

Single-digit appreciation is a remarkable prediction. Many other experts anticipate depreciation in   the nation’s housing market, so the Altos call is relatively noteworthy.

What’s driving the negative stand most of the market holds? The media is partially to blame, the report states.

Bearish Headlines, Bullish Reality

In the section titled, “Bearish Headlines, Bullish Reality,” the researchers state their case this way:

“In our view, these attitudes reflect a myopic view of actual market conditions and conflate concerns over the mortgage industry, the otherwise-constrained new construction market, and more broadly, the long-term financial stability of the U.S. consumer with specific current housing market supply and demand dynamics. While these are valid long-run concerns, the variables impacting home prices have proven to be driven by low available supply and growing household formation.”

So what is the main driver for the Altos view that prices will rise 7%? Altos expects inventory to climb another 10%.

“As inventory and transactions rise along with pricing, participants in the housing market stand to benefit broadly,” they write. Furthermore, the number of days on market remains low compared to before the housing bust, indicating a seller’s market.

In a seller’s market, sellers can list homes at a higher value, hoping a buyer takes the bait. If not, they can also bring down the price closer to market value, while appearing to offer a sales compromise to the buyer.

Altos estimates that approximately 35% of properties will take such a price cut. Altos sees this as an indicator of strong competition, despite weaker demand overall.

The nation’s housing market, they note, continues to require a more nuanced view of its future.

“Home prices across the U.S. are poised for a fifth consecutive year of recovery. The market is still faced with low inventory and demand, buoyed by an expanding economy, which, among other factors, remains healthy,” the report concludes. “Both supply and demand conditions are moving from extreme bullish conditions to healthy condition.”

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The Latest Orange County Housing Report

Below is the latest Orange County Housing Report from my friend, Steven Thomas.

Window of OpportunityOrange County Housing Report:  The Window of Opportunity is Closing

Summer is flying by and so is the second best time of the year to sell a house 

Window of Opportunity: The second best time of the year to sell will come to an end as soon as the kids go back to school and housing transitions into the Autumn Market.

This year, the transition from the Summer Market to the Autumn Market is a bit more significant because the expected market time is moving away from a seller’s market to one that is balanced, favoring neither the seller   nor the buyer. It is also important to note that the best time of the year to sell is already behind us, the Spring Market. Summer is mistakenly viewed as the best, but the higher sales numbers are actually a reflection of  pending sales that were negotiated during the spring, but did not close until the summer. As a result of a lot of publicity that is circulated about closed sales, many are duped into thinking that right now is the best time to sell; unfortunately, they are wrong.

Back to school means that fewer buyers are yearning to make an immediate move. Buyers with children factor the displacement of their children and the strain on their family in moving during a school year. As a result, many buyers simply opt to wait until the following spring to start the process of isolating their next home.

As housing transitions into the Autumn Market, the window of opportunity in taking advantage of the summer will come to an end. That does not mean that sellers will not be successful; however, it is going to take a bit more patience and accurately pricing will be fundamental in luring a willing and able buyer. Sellers will absolutely NOT get away with overpricing a home. Ironically, most sellers initially list their homes outside of the realm of reality and arbitrarily price based upon what they want rather than what buyers are willing to pay. Today’s buyers are looking to pay very close to a home’s Fair Market Value, a value based upon the most recent comparable sales activity.

Appreciation has already slowed to a crawl, but it is going to slow further, from 1% to 0%, a flat line. Pricing a home in hopes that the market will appreciate enough to come up to an overpriced level is a fruitless strategy only resulting in a decision to make: reduce the asking price or throw in the towel.

The proverbial “window of opportunity” is closing further because the Orange County housing market is marching its way towards a balanced market, leaving behind the seller’s market of the past 2½ years. This may not occur in all price ranges or cities, but, at the very least, will slow across the board, affecting every community and every price across the county. This will require patience and accurate pricing to succeed. Today’s seller’s market means sellers can call the shots, but does NOT mean that they will get away with arbitrarily overpricing their homes. That will be true for any remaining seller’s markets for the rest of the year. The higher price ranges, above $750,000, will be much slower. This range accounts for 43% of the active listing inventory and 29% of total demand. As is always true, there are fewer buyers, as a percentage, in the upper ranges compared to the lower ranges. It is purely an affordability issue. Thus, it makes sense that this range has many more challenges in selling.

The higher the price, the more challenging it becomes to sell. In many cases throughout the year, the ultra-luxury ranges, homes priced above $2 million, slip into a lethargic market with expected market times ballooning to above one or even two years. This market does not respond with quick price reductions; instead, they must patiently wait for either the market to evolve on its own or carefully analyze any changes that need to be addressed. It also marches to the beat of its own drum and does not change as radically as the rest of the housing market.

Currently, Newport Coast, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar, Coto De Caza, Ladera Ranch, and all homes above $1.5 million, are experiencing a balanced market with an expected market time of at least five months. Expect the number of cities and price ranges in this select group to increase during the Autumn and Holiday Markets. It is incumbent upon sellers to know their specific market and price range as it continues to evolve.

The lower ranges are slowing too. For homes priced below $750,000, the expected market time is at 2.5 months compared to 1.5 months one year ago. This range will not be an exception, as it too will slow during the Autumn and Holidays, just not as profound as the upper ranges. It will still require a very careful approach and accurate pricing. There are simply fewer buyers in the market, so not every seller will be successful. Properly pricing homes NOW is the best strategy and approach.

The bottom line, the window of opportunity in taking advantage of the second best time of the year, the Summer Market, as well as a more favorable expected market time, is coming to a close. Benefit from proper pricing now before a different, more patient strategy will be required.

o.c.housing.chart.7.20.14

Active Inventory: The active inventory increased by 4% in the past two weeks.

The active listing inventory added an additional 276 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 7,811. Thus far in 2014 the inventory has grown without pause, adding an additional 3,093, a 65% increase, and is poised to continue to increase through the end August. Keep in mind, in order for the active inventory to grow, more home need to be placed on the market than are coming off as pending sales. Last year at this time there were 5,340 homes on the market, 2,486 fewer than today.

o.c.inventory.7.20.14

DemandDemand increased by 1% in the past two weeks.

Demand, the number of new pending sales over the past month, increased by 24 and now totals 2,501. After an initial small dip in demand in July, it will slightly rise in August. Last year at this time demand was at 2,663, 162 additional pending sales compared to today. 

Distressed Breakdown: The distressed inventory increased by 6% in the past two weeks.

The distressed inventory, foreclosures and short sales combined, increased by 17 homes and now totals 281. In 2014, the distressed inventory has not changed much, starting the year at 271. The long term trend is for it to remain at a very low level. Last month, they represented only 5% of all closed sales.

In the past two weeks, the number of active foreclosures increased by 7 homes and now totals 76. 1% of the active inventory is a foreclosure. The expected market time for foreclosures is 69 days. The short sale inventory increased by 10 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 205. The expected market time is 46 days and remains one of the hottest segments of the Orange County market. Short sales represent 2.6% of the total active inventory.

Steven Thomas, Quantitative Economics and Decision Sciences

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