O.C. home demand in seasonal cooldown

September 17th, 2012,  OC Register

Orange County’s housing market saw what’s described as a seasonal drop in demand in mid-September, by one accounting.

The latest Orange County home inventory report from Steve Thomas and ReportsOnHousing.com — data as of September 13 includes these thoughts …

Typical for this time of year, there is a slight deceleration in demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month. In the past month, demand has dropped by 6%, 214 pending sales, and now sits at 3,330. Last year at this time, there were 385 fewer pending sales, a 13% difference. Of course, if more homes were placed on the market, buyers that have been anxiously waiting for an increase in fresh inventory would finally be able to purchase. Today’s sparse inventory is actually hurting demand. There are plenty of willing and able buyers, just not enough homes.

Thomas’ signature housing measurement is his “market time” benchmark. It tracks how many months it theoretically takes to sell all the inventory in the local MLS for-sale listings at the current pace of pending deals being made. By this Thomas logic, as of September 13 — we see …

  • Market time of 1.40 months for Orange County buyers to gobble up all homes for sale at the current pace vs. 1.41 months two weeks ago vs. 3.59 months a year ago vs. 4.42 months two years ago.
  • Of the 8 Orange County pricing slices Thomas tracks, 3 had faster market time vs. 2 weeks ago; and 8 improved over a year ago.
  • Orange County homes listed for under a million bucks have a market time of 1.09 months vs. 4.94 months for homes listed for more than $1 million.
  • So, basically, it is 4.5 times harder to sell a million-dollar-plus residence!
  • And just so you know, the million-dollar market represents 30% of all homes listed and 9% of all homes that entered into escrow in the past 30 days.

Here’s the recent data for listings; deals pending; market time in months; latest vs. 2 weeks earllier, a year ago and 2 years ago. Color coding for market time is red (slowed by 5%-plus in year); green (sped up by 5%-plus in year); and yellow (in between!) Note: k=thousand; m=million …

Slice Listings Deals Market Time (months) 2 week ago 1 yr. ago 2 yr. ago
$0-$250k 572 571 1.00 0.95 2.82 3.49
$250k-$500k 1,150 1,476 0.78 0.74 2.62 3.38
$500k-$750k 992 763 1.30 1.42 4.08 4.43
$750k-$1m 632 252 2.51 2.29 5.64 5.97
$1m-$1.5m 468 145 3.23 3.16 7.03 7.92
$1.5m-$2m 284 61 4.66 4.63 10.95 12.03
$2m-4m 413 66 6.26 7.93 14.00 15.36
$4m+ 237 12 19.75 20.33 32.33 70.60
All O.C. 4,676 3,330 1.40 1.41 3.59 4.42

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