O.C. Median Home Price Tops $500,000…
March’s increase was the biggest annual price gain in the county since 2004.Orange County’s median home price soared to $505,000 in March, crossing the half-million-dollar threshold for the first time in five years and reflecting a trend of rising prices seen throughout Southern California. Home sales, meanwhile, rose 7.2 percent year over year in March, Data-Quick Information Systems reported Wednesday. The median price – or price at the midpoint of all sales – increased by $105,000 or 26.3% since March of 2012. It was the biggest annual price gain since 2004.
Industry observers warned that much of the price gain was due to a shift from foreclosures and short sales toward more standard sales. For example, 26% of last month’s existing home sales were either foreclosures or short sales, vs. 50% a year earlier, Data-Quick figures show. That shift skews the median price upward because there are more higher-priced sales. “There is no individual property that has increased (in value) at 26%t,” said Pat Veling, president of Real Data Strategies, a Brea real estate consulting firm. He pegged the actual price appreciation rate at 9 to 11 percent.
The median price for a Southern California home hit a 56-month high in March, up 23.4% from March 2012, as sales of mid- to high-end homes rose and those of distressed properties dropped. Los Angeles County, for example, saw a 24.2% year-over-year price increase, to a median of $380,000. San Bernardino County had the region’s biggest jump: The median increased 26.7% to $190,000.
“It’s remarkable how much the housing scene has changed in a year,” said John Walsh, Data-Quick president. “At this point in 2012 there were still plenty of folks sitting on the market’s sidelines, waiting to be sure the recovery was real. “But gradually the psychology shifted as the economy picked up steam and mortgage rates fell to historic lows,” he said. “We’re seeing the release of a lot of pent-up demand, especially in the middle and higher-priced neighborhoods.” Southern California sales reached the highest level in six years for a March, Data-Quick reported, though sales still were 15 percent below the March average.
A drop in affordability
A year ago, Orange County’s median price was $400,000. “I’m not sure that the O.C. home median price reaching $500,000 will create a psychological change in the minds of sellers,” said Mike Cotter, a broker associate with Century 21 O.M.A. in San Clemente. “But I think it will in the minds of buyers. And therefore we are likely to continue with a seller’s market and low inventory.” Cotter said sellers tend to have “a number in their head” they have to achieve, while buyers simply see prices rising indefinitely into the future. “Buyers have no reason to wait,” Cotter said, “whereas sellers do.”
O.C. Median Home Price Tops $500,000
Orange County’s median home prices first crossed the half-million-dollar mark in April 2004, eventually hitting a high of $645,000 in June 2007. A month later, the housing bubble burst, with the median price dropping below $500,000 in May 2008. While record-low interest rates have chopped the typical monthly mortgage payment on a $500,000 house by nearly $300 since 2004, the past year’s run-up in home prices has taken a bite out of affordability. A minimum income of $95,500 a year is needed to afford a median-priced home today, assuming that house payments on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan account for a third of the buyers’ income. That compares to $79,000 annually a year ago.
No ‘magic number’
Realtor Robert MacLean said the March price gain reflects what he has seen. “A house on the same street with the same square feet in the same condition that would have sold for $450,000 a year ago is going for over $550,000 now in Huntington Beach,” said MacLean, with First Team Real Estate. But crossing the $500,000 median threshold in Orange County isn’t that significant to the average homebuyer or seller, said Cedric Ferrell, a Realtor with Keller Williams in Mission Viejo. “I haven’t experienced that there’s a magic number,” he said. “I think there’s a magic number for each community and area.” Ferrell listed a three-bedroom house in Costa Mesa at $529,900. He said 85 visitors came to a weekend open house. He got eight offers. “Every offer we received was above the asking price,” he said.
“It’s a supply and demand situation,” Ferrell said. “There are very few homes that are for sale now. The inventory is still significantly below where last year was.” Competition among buyers remains fierce. Realtors said investors and cash buyers still play a large role in home sales, especially in the lower price ranges. “If you were to take away the investors and foreign buyers we would probably have a normal market,” MacLean said.
But, he added, “My fear is that we are creating another bubble. I do not see that the average person working here in O.C. has the income to support the rising house prices which got us into the housing problem in the first place. The average buyer is being pushed out into the Inland Empire again.” Veling, however, doesn’t think that prices are being artificially inflated. “As long as mortgage lending remains realistic about the value of the property and the ability to repay, we don’t have a bubble,” he said. “We have competition among buyers, but we don’t have a bubble.”
Mortgage credit standards have not changed much in the past few months, said Dustin Hobbs of the California Mortgage Bankers Association. “Lenders remain cautious in extending credit to borrowers,” he said. “As new laws and regulations continue to be absorbed by lenders, credit standards are likely to remain consistent.” Data-Quick shows that in March, 7.4% of Southern California home purchase loans were adjustable rate mortgages, up from 5.6% in February and 6.2% a year earlier. The March figure was the highest since adjustable rate mortgages were 8.5 percent of the purchase loan market in August 2011.
Housing experts explain median price jump
Housing industry experts cited buyers bidding up a limited supply of homes and fewer distressed homes in the mix as key reasons for the jump in the Orange County median home sale price in March. Some observations about the current market:
“There have been significantly fewer short sales this year compared to the same period last year. The fact that the sellers do not have to compete with the distressed sales has been a significant factor in rising prices.”
— Frank Agahi, Re/Max Associated Realtors, Irvine
“The demand is definitely high, and the supply has been so low in the last couple months, anybody who has been on the fence … they definitely have gotten off the fence. They want to buy before it goes higher. I don’t think the sellers are asking for more. The buyers are offering more. It’s competition among the buyers.”
— Preeti Bhathal, Keller Williams Realty, Mission Viejo
“Unless they are leaving the area or wanting to cash out and rent they are not going to sell unless they know they can find another home to purchase. Also bottom line: People are still not convinced that our economy is really improving. People are staying put.”
— Sue Turner, real estate agent with Windermere Real Estate SoCal, Laguna Niguel.
23 Cala Moreya, Laguna Niguel CA
$750,000 or $3,600 a month
**EQUITY SALE, NO REO/SHORT SALE HASSLES**FABULOUS MARINA HILLS CUL-DE-SAC HOME W/ OCEAN BREEZES/OCEAN PEEK A BOO VU FROM UPSTAIRS MASTER**BEAUTIFULLY UPGRADED ‘TERACINA’ W/ DARK DISTRESSED WALNUT WOOD FLOORS @ LIVING, DINING KITCHEN & STAIRCASE BORDER W/ WROUGHT IRON RAILINGS, NEUTRAL CARPET @ FAMILY RM & UPSTAIRS**CUSTOM ANTIQUED KITCHEN CABINETS, GRANITE COUNTERS,STAINLESS APPL’S, LIVING/DINING GREAT RM W/ DUAL FP & CUSTOM MANTLES**CROWN & 8′ BASE MOLDINGS**FAMILY RM INC. 37′ LCD FLAT SCREEN TV & INTERIOR SURROUND SOUND SPEAKERS(NOT COMPONENTS)WIRED FOR EXT SPEAKERS(EXISTING SPEAKERS EXC)**HOUSE NETWORKED W/ CAT-6 ETHERNET**ALL BRS UPSTAIRS, MASTER SUITE INC ADJ 4TH BR POTENTIAL + 2 OTHER 2NDRY BRS**RECESSED LITING ADDED AT BRS**NU HEATING/AC**POOL-SIZED BACKYARD W/ GRASS,FLOWERS & PATIO W/ SHADE COVER**AROUND THE CORNER FROM MARINA HILLS CLUBHOUSE,POOL/SPA,TENNIS COURTS,SOCCER FIELDS & BEACH CLOSE**TRAILS TO BEACH NEARBY**LOW TAXES & NO MELLO ROOS**
1 Celano, Laguna Niguel
GREAT LOCATION WITH ONLY ONE NEIGHBOR ON QUIET SINGLE LOADED CUL-DE-SAC STREET.WE JUST INSTALLED BRAND NEW CARPETS,KITCHEN UPGRADED WITH GRANITE COUNTERS,NEW STAINLESS STEEL SINK,NEW FAUCET,NEW STOVE TOP, NEW DOUBLE OVENS.SELLER ALSO ADDED 2 GAS LOGS IN BOTH FIREPLACES, REPLACED THE DINING ROOM CHANDELIER,ADDED HONEYCOMB PLEATED SHADES IN THE KITCHEN AND PLEATED SHADES FOR THE LIVING AND DINING ROOM, SILHOUETTE SHADES FOR THE MASTER AND PLANTATION SHUTTERS IN THE SECONDARY BEDROOMS,ADDED 2 CEILING FANS, WATER SOFTENER AND BRAND NEW DUAL HEATERS AND DUAL AIRCONDITIONERS.THE HOME IS SO LITE AND BRIGHT AND HAS VIEWS FROM ABOVE BALCONY, MASTER AND FROM BELOW IN THE BACK YARD.HOME IS ABOUT 6.5 MILES FROM THE BEACH AND IS PART OF A GREAT RESORT STYLE ASSOCIATION WITH 6 NITE LIT TENNIS COURTS, OLYMPIC SIZE SWIMMING POOL AND KIDDY POOL AND A FENCED IN LARGE SPA.TRAILS FROM THIS COMMUNITY THRU SALT CREEK CANYON ALL THE WAY TO THE OCEAN.A GREAT HOME IN A VERY SPECIAL COMMUNITY,DON’T BLINK…
15 Siena, Laguna Niguel
Fabulous re-modeled home with ocean views! Private gated entrance leads to pretty landscape and fountain. Re-modeled approximately 2 years previous with hardwood floors, wood-sliding french doors, custom-paint, baseboards, total new kitchen with new appliances, granite counters, breakfast bar, breakfast nook and adjacent private patio. Master Bedroom & Bath: Big Ocean View Fireplace, Wood-Sliding Doors to Balcony Master Bath has new cabinetry, marble floors, fixtures, etc. 3rd bedroom is currently an office This home is designer-furnished with very high quality furniture & art work that may be available for purchase.
22 Via Di Nola, Laguna Niguel
STUNNING MARINA HILLS HOME,YOU WILL LOVE ENTERTAINING FAMILY & FRIENDS.DESIGNER LIVES HERE & TREATED THIS HOME WITH QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS,SOME YOU CAN’T SEE,LIKE DURAFOAM COATED PIPES THROUGHOUT.PRIDE OF HOME OWNER HAS DONE SO MANY IMPROVEMENTS, THE LIST IS ENDLESS,A FEW ARE A GREAT DESIGNER EFFECT KITCHEN W/ALL NEW APPLIANCES INCLUDING HUGE BUILT IN FRIG/FREEZER AND A GORGEOUS CUSTOM BUILT CENTER ISLAND AND BEAUTIFUL REFACED CABINETS W/SPECIAL GLAZING AND CROWN MOLDINGS OVERLOOKING A PRIVATE,PEACEFUL & LUSH BACKYARD W/GRANITE BAR & BUILT IN BBQ.PLANTATION SHUTTERS ARE ON 99.9% OF ALL WINDOWS,BATHROOM CABINETS HAVE BEEN FAUX PAINTED.YOU WILL LOVE THE TUSCAN ENTRY DOUBLE DOOR.THE LARGE DINING ROOM LOOKING AT AN OUTDOOR WATER FALL WITH REFLECTING LIGHTS.FAMILY ROOM WITH A BUILT IN ENTERTAINMENT CENTER AND A WALK IN BAR. PLEASE DO NOT MISS THE 3 FIREPLACES & THAT EACH AND EVERY BEDRM HAS IT OWN PRIVATE BATH.6.5 MILES TO BEACH & FAB. RESORT STYLE ASSOC W/6 TENNIS COURTS & MORE..
9 Lucca, Laguna Niguel
Very desirable street and floor plan in Marina Hills. The dramatic entry of this floorplan is very open and inviting. This Heights Plan has a large master suite with 3 walk in closets, jacuzzi tub, extra large dressing area, vanity, and panoramic views! Bedrooms have closet organizers, and executive built ins. Plantation shutters, custom pavers front and back, upgraded cabinets in kitchen, granite countertops,lots of storage, the list goes on. Home rests at end of culd-de-sac, and looks onto greenbelt of single loaded street. Sunset views are amazing here! Large lapsize pool, large side yard, built in BBQ island, and more panoramic views. This home is move in ready!
22 Villamoura, Laguna Niguel CA
Absolutely beautiful home in the desirable neighborhood of Marina Hills. This view home features 3 bedrooms with 3 baths. Home is completely remodeled with impeccable detail and style. Private courtyard leads to the iron entry door. Living room with cozy fireplace accented with iron staircase railing. This home features wonderful natural lighting framed by new energy efficient windows. Beautiful cabinets and granite grace this gourmet kitchen featuring SS appliances, cabinet depth refrigerator with cabinet inserts. All adjacent to custom breakfast nook to enjoy peaceful mornings of courtyard garden views. Master with distressed wood floor leads to bath featuring double granite vanities, large travertine frameless shower, and separate water closet. Extra deep garage with built-in cabinets. Wrap around courtyard leads to backyard with vine covered patio and peacefull views for entertaining. This is a MUST SEE.
Recently Sold in Marina Hills – 117 Fleurance, Laguna Niguel
Sold on 2/28/12 for $395,000
Premium location for this 2 story townhome in the Encore community of Marina Hills. 2 bedroom plus bonus room in this private end-unit with city and mountain views on exterior cul-de-sac street. Open floor plan with an abundance of natural light plus wood floors, new carpeting and paint. Features living room fireplace, large windows, sliding glass doors, an eat-in kitchen and private outdoor patio/yard. Downstairs den can be converted to downstairs bedroom with full bath. Master suite features vaulted ceilings and private balcony with panoramic views and a master bath with dual vanities and walk-in closet. Large secondary bedroom has a full private bath. Interior laundry room and 2 car attached garage. Encore has it’s own pool and spa plus the Marina Hills amenities include Olympic size pool and spa, 6 tennis courts, clubhouse. No Mello Roos. Near parks, walking trails to ocean and shopping.
Listing Provided Courtesy of: Kathy Burns, Coldwell Banker, DRE #01423984
Buyer’s agent: Kathy Burns, Coldwell Banker, DRE #01423984