Don’t fear falling home prices

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

JEBB HARRIS, April 13th 2012

Sellers accepting losses on their homes isn’t necessarily all bad. If nothing else, it shows that owners – and bankers, when the deal is a short sale – are willing to accept pricing’s realties and move on.

Roughly 2-in-5 Orange County homes are selling at a loss, according to Zillow. That should be no surprise as by this online real estate tracker’s math local home values have fallen at a 7.4 percent-a-year pace in the past five years.

Article Tab: Roughly 2-in-5 Orange County homes are selling at a loss, according to Zillow. That should be no surprise as by this online real estate tracker’s math local home values have fallen at a 7.4 percent-a-year pace in the past five years.
Roughly 2-in-5 Orange County homes are selling at a loss, according to Zillow. That should be no surprise as by this online real estate tracker’s math local home values have fallen at a 7.4 percent-a-year pace in the past five years.

For February, Zillow’s database of values for all homes shows its Orange County Zillow Home Value Index with a median home value at $463,400 — that’s down 7.0 percent in a year. Median value per square foot? $266 — that’s down 5.7 percent in a year. And 72.3 percent of the homes in the market had declining values — that’s off 1.0 percent in a year.

As for sales data tracked by Zillow, $405,800 was the median sales price — that’s down 5.8 percent in a year. Of those deals, 37.5 percent of the homes sold were done so at a loss to the owner — that’s up 1.7 percent in a year. At least, sellers – as a median — got 97.7 percent of list price— that’s down just 0.1 percent in a year.

As for what sellers are listing their homes at, Zillow found a $450,000 median ask price — that’s up 0.2 percent in a year. But there’s a reality check — 28 percent of the homes listing had price cuts — that’s down 2.4 percent in a year. And 5.3 percent was the median price cut on listed homes — that’s down 0.5 percent in a year.

Price cutting is probably one factor why spring home sales run ahead of last year’s pace.

For the 22 business days ending March 22, DataQuick found total Orange County sales of 2,660 residences closed in the latest period — that is up 5.8 percent vs. a year ago. Condos lead the way with a 12.5 percent faster selling pace vs. 2011.

It was a broad sales gain as home sales are on the rise in 48 of 83 Orange County ZIPs. Three Orange County ZIPs saw sales gains of 100 percent or more in the period – Newport Beach 92661, up 150; Anaheim 92802, up 144 percent; and Santa Ana 92705, up 115 percent.

Of course, discounting helps: DataQuick’s median selling price for all residences in this most current period was $400,000 — that is off 5.9 percent vs. a year ago. Just 29 of O.C.’s 83 ZIP codes had gains in their respective median selling price. Taking sales volume in consideration, home-sale pricing is up in ZIPs representing 28 percent of the Orange County market.

When we looked at how DataQuick’s data trends hit various corners of Orange County, we saw that all four regions had year-over-year sales gains.

For the 22 business days ending March 22, our region-by-region analysis of local real estate trends found Orange County home sales slicing up by geography this way …

•South Inland: These ZIPs — median selling price $457,000 — had 794 sales, up 10.3 percent from a year ago. This was largest year-to-year gain among the four regions. In these 19 ZIPs, median price change was down 14.3 percent in a year. South Inland accounted for 30 percent of recent home sales vs. 30 percent a year ago.

•North Inland: 623 homes sold in these Orange County ZIP codes in this most recent period, up 9.5 percent from a year ago. Median selling price? $401,750 in these 22 ZIPs. This most recent median price change was down 7.8 percent in a year. North Inland accounted for 27 percent of recent home sales vs. 28 percent a year ago.

•Beach Towns: 488 homes sold in these ZIP codes in the most recent period, up 6.3 percent from a year ago. Median selling price? $555,000 in these 17 ZIPs. Median price change was down 1.3 percent in a year. Beach Towns accounted for 19 percent of recent home sales vs. 19 percent a year ago.

•Mid-County: These ZIPs — median selling price $336,750 — had 716 sales, up 3.9 percent from a year ago. This was the smallest year-to-year drop among the four regions. In these 25 ZIPs, the median price change was down 1.3 percent in a year. Mid-County accounted for 24 percent of recent home sales vs. 23 percent a year ago.

FYI: We’ll bet that discounting helps! Did you notice the pricing dips in all four regions?

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