A limited supply of homes to buy, especially at the market’s more affordable price ranges, has pushed up prices and slowed the homebuying pace. Two new reports help illustrate a house hunter’s challenges in Orange County — CoreLogic tracks closed sales in the 22 business days ending Dec. 14 and ReportsOnHousing looks at brokers’ listings as of Jan. 11.
Here are seven ways shrinking choices makes the house hunter’s chore more difficult and pricier …
1. The big picture shows Orange County’s median selling price for all residences in the 22 business days ending Dec. 14 was $700,000 — up 6.1 percent compared with a year ago. But only 3,365 sold, down 2.4 percent. Big problem: Homes on the market totaled 3,707 on Jan. 11, down 15 percent in a year.
2. Looking closed sales at the neighborhood level, prices rose in 61 of 83 Orange County ZIP codes compared with the previous year. Sales rose in just 36 of 83 ZIPs.
3. Price matters! In the 27 least expensive ZIP codes — median sales price at $610,000 and below — 916 homes sold. That’s down 6.9 percent compared with a year ago. The 27 priciest ZIPs? In these neighborhoods, where the median starts at $797,250, sales were 1,138 homes. That’s up 4.8 percent compared with a year ago.
4. Fewer bargains. There were seven ZIPs with median prices under $500,000 with total sales of 176 homes. A year ago, 13 ZIPs had medians under $500,000 with 378 sales. So, the bargain category is down 53 percent compared with a year ago. In the county’s 16 beach-close ZIP codes — typically the most expensive places to buy– 459 homes sold in the latest period, up 0.88 percent vs. a year ago.
5. Most-affordable neighborhoods are getting harder to buy into. Of the 43 ZIPs with pricing under the countywide median, prices were up in 29 in the past year … and sales were up in just 19.
6. Condos offer little help. Sales of the popular house-hunter bargain — existing condos — totaled 847 — down 6.4 percent from a year ago. Median selling price was $480,000 — up 6.9 percent from a year ago. Sales of the usually priciest options — newly constructed residences — were 540 — up 4.7 percent. Median selling price was $867,500 — up 4.5 percent.
7. And bargain hunters must act fast. Countywide, the estimated time a home listed for $750,000 or less goes from new listing to escrow is 46 days. Pricier homes take nearly three times as long to get a signed sales contract: 128 days.