Orange County Housing Report: Applying the Brakes

As housing transitions into the Summer Market, there are more For Sale signs while demand softens.

The Summer Shift: The annual tradition is no different in 2017, housing is shifting from the Spring Market to the Summer Market.

It is the season for commencement speeches, diplomas, and caps thrown into the air to mark the end of a chapter and the beginning of something new. Similarly, this is the season where the robust, hot Spring Market comes to an end, making way for a different market, a new chapter in local real estate, the Summer Market.

While the Summer Market may be the second busiest time of the year for real estate, sellers, buyers, and real estate professionals feel a palpable shift. The active listing inventory slowly and methodically grows from now through mid-August. At the same time, demand softens slightly from the peak of 2017, which occurred two weeks ago.

Many mistakenly think that right now is the absolute best time to come on the market. It is just not true. The best conditions actually occurred at the start of April when the expected market time hit a low. Since then, the expected market time has been slowly rising and will continue to rise from now through the 2017 peak in the active inventory, which typically occurs around mid-August.

This shift occurs because summer is full of distractions. From the beach, to the pool, to vacations, buyers’ attention is diverted a bit. Not to mention, the number one distraction, everybody’s kids are on summer break too. It’s just not as easy to see homes when the kids are not confined to their school classrooms.

Even though it will continue to be a seller’s market, overall housing is just about to move from a hot seller’s market to just a seller’s market. The stark difference in this market can be isolated to a bit less activity with not as many offers generated. This shift is much more dramatic in the higher price ranges, from $750,000 and up.

It may be a seller’s market, but sellers really need to approach pricing with extreme caution and care. For sellers who aggressively stretch their asking prices, they risk not being successful and missing both the Spring and Summer Markets. Arbitrarily picking a desired sales price and ignoring the closed and pending sales data is a recipe for disaster and a waste of valuable market time.

For example, a home that sold in December 2016 at $800,000 is not worth $900,000 today, over 12% higher. The market has been appreciating at about 5% annually. That means it takes 365 days for a home to appreciate 5%, not 3 months, not 6 months, not 9 months. It takes a year.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that this simple example does not work for every property in every neighborhood. The appreciation rate varies from area to area, neighborhood to neighborhood, and sometimes from street to street. A professional REALTOR® can help dissect the recent closed and pending sales data to help establish the best price for success. Sellers absolutely should NOT utilize Zillow to price a home. Zillow admits it themselves, stating, “The Zestimate® is a starting point in determining a homes’ value and is not an official appraisal.” It is just an approximation and leads to inaccurate pricing. Nothing beats carefully looking at the comparable sales data and comparing the property size, bedrooms, bathrooms, location, amenities, upgrades, condition, lot size, and every other nuance that goes into the sale of a home.

The bottom line is this: the market is slowly cooling right now and the window of opportunity to find success prior to the kids going back to school at the end of August is beginning to close. Sellers find success through accurate pricing. Price out of bounds and risk losing valuable market time during the best time of the year to sell, the Spring and Summer Markets.

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

The active listing inventory added an additional 236 homes in the past two-weeks, a 4% increase, and now sits at 5,623. Expect the inventory to continue to rise until it peaks around mid-August. Even though demand peaks in April to early-May, more homeowners come on the market in the month of June than any other time of the year. Since demand is not as strong, the active inventory grows. As more homes accumulate on the market, there is more seller competition.

Demand:  Demand dropped by 3% in the past couple of weeks.

Demand, the number of homes placed into escrow within the prior month, dropped by 98 pending sales in the past month, or 3%, and now totals 2,914. In both 2015 and 2016, demand eclipsed the 3,000 mark for two months, compared to just two-weeks this year. A major contributing factor to this year’s phenomenon is the lack of homes coming on the market in the lower ranges. In the last 30 days, there have been 21% fewer homes placed on the market below $500,000, and 11% fewer from $500,000 to $750,000.

We can expect demand to drop slightly from now through the upcoming summer months.

Luxury EndLuxury demand dropped by 7% in the past couple of weeks while the inventory grew by 4%.

In the past two weeks, demand for homes above $1.25 million decreased from 398 to 369 pending sales, a 4% drop. The luxury home inventory increased from 1,887 homes to 1,965, up 4%.  Similar to the rest of the market, demand is dropping for luxury homes while the luxury inventory continues to grow. There is already plenty of seller competition in the upper ranges.

For homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, the expected market time increased from 89 to 90 days. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time increased from 134 to 162 days. In addition, for homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time increased from 198 days to 235 days. At 235 days, a seller would be looking at placing their home into escrow around mid-January of next year.

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