Orange County Housing Report: Running Out of Time

October 22, 2017

The window of opportunity is closing for sellers to find success in 2017.

Last Call for 2017: Four more weeks until the slowest season of the year starts for housing.

Pass the turkey! It is right around the corner… cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn bread, glazed carrots, green beans, pumpkin pie, honey baked ham, and, of course, plenty of turkey. Thanksgiving is a little over a month away. There are plenty of signs that the holiday season is right around the corner. The days are getting shorter. Professional installers are already putting up holiday lights on homes and businesses. Stores are gearing up for their busiest time of the year.

The weekend prior to Thanksgiving is the LAST HURRAH before the housing market transitions from the Autumn Market to the Holiday/Winter Market. From there, real estate activity takes a back seat to the all of the distractions of the holidays. Demand comes to a crawl, dropping by about 25% from where it is today. The active inventory drops considerably, shedding about 25% as well. Fewer and fewer homeowners will opt to sell and many unsuccessful sellers will throw in the towel and pull their homes off the market, choosing to wait until the much more active spring selling season.

There will still be plenty of new escrows opened prior to transitioning into the season of yuletide greetings, but that window of opportunity will close fast. Before you know it, real estate will take a back seat to holiday decorations, shopping, company parties, and family gatherings.

Many REALTORS® assert that they are busy during the month of December. There typically is an uptick in closed sales in comparing December to November numbers. This uptick is due to a slight surge in new pending sales from now through Thanksgiving. Those pending sales close during the month of December.

While there may be more closed sales in December, the number of new pending sales, demand, drops like a rock. Demand drops dramatically from mid-November until it bottoms with the start to the New Year. The market typically does not shake off the effects of the holidays until around the third week of January. It will not be until the end of January when Orange County housing will start to rev its massive engine and demand will rise considerably. As a result, January and February are cyclically the slowest months of the year in terms of closed sales.

The active inventory will drop from now through the end of the year and will pick up steam from Thanksgiving week on. It too will reach a bottom on January 1st. Typically, the inventory does not really start to build until the beginning of March. With so few homes on the market today, the start to 2018 is expected to be extremely anemic.

WARNING to Buyers: Contrary to want many think, the holidays are NOT a time when sellers are suddenly desperate; as a result, you will not get a “deal.” There are not enough homes on the market to begin with. The few that do remain will not be giving away the farm to make something happen just because it is the holidays.

WARNING to Sellers: You are running out of time before the market slows significantly and your chances of success drop.

Active Inventory: The active inventory dropped by 3% over the past couple of weeks.

The active listing inventory shed 167 homes in the past two weeks and now sits at 5,215, the lowest level since the start of April. The theme for the 2017 housing market has been “a serious lack of FOR SALE signs.” Unfortunately, it is not going to get any better any time soon. The active inventory will continue to drop for the remainder of the year.

Demand:  Demand decreased by 1% in the past couple of weeks.

Demand, the number of homes placed into escrow within the prior month, decreased by 33 pending sales, or 1%, in the past two-weeks, and now totals 2,393. It is the lowest level since the start of January of this year. Demand will remain close to this level for the next month before it starts its seasonal drop from Thanksgiving week through the end of 2017.

Luxury End:  Luxury supply plummets while demand remains the same.

In the past two weeks, demand for homes above $1.25 million dropped from 303 to 302 pending sales. That is solid, indicating that the luxury market will most likely remain stable from now through Thanksgiving similar to the lower price ranges. The luxury home inventory decreased from 1,887 homes to 1,818, a 4% drop, in the past two-weeks. The luxury inventory will continue to drop through the end of the year. Since demand really did not change and the inventory dropped, the expected market time for all homes priced above $1.25 million dropped from 187 days to 181.

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