Orange County Real Estate – the Distressed Market

Foreclosures and short sales make up less than half a percent of the listing inventory and demand.

Parents worry about their kids all the time. Often, their minds jump to the worst-case scenario. As their newly licensed teenager drives down the street solo for the first time, mom and dad are concerned that their inexperience could result in a devastating accident. Hiking as a family on one of Southern California’s many hilly trails often leads to unexpected sheer cliffs just feet away. Many parents visualize the potential for one of their children to lose their footing and slip to their peril. Parenting is full of anguish. To keep their kids safe, they, unfortunately, must consider the most severe outcome that can reasonably be projected to occur in every situation. Similarly, due to the recession, everybody is jumping to the worst-case scenario for housing, the inevitable wave of foreclosures to come.

It is crucial to immediately point out the simple fact that just because the economy is in the midst of a recession does not mean that the housing market will tank, values must go down, and many homeowners will lose their homes due to foreclosures or short sales. In fact, in the past five recessions, only two have led to declines in real estate values, the recession that began in 1991 and the Great Recession that started in 2008. Both were fueled by asset bubbles in housing that eventually popped. The recession in 1991 was powered by the savings and loan crisis. The Great Recession was driven by subprime lending and risky investments in mortgage securities. Thus, a wave of foreclosures ensued.

Today, there are only 11 foreclosures and 7 short sales to purchase in all of Orange County, that is 18 total distressed listings, the lowest level since initially tracking distressed listings began back in 2007. It represents only 0.4% of the active listing inventory and 0.4% of demand. Compare that to January 2009 when there were 5,104 distressed listings, 44% of the active listing inventory, and demand (the last 30-days of pending sales) was at 1,428 pendings, 67% of total demand.

That meant that two-thirds of all escrows were distressed. Lenders were in control of the market, either through bank owned listings, foreclosures, or short sales where the lender (or lenders) needed to approve taking less than the outstanding loan balance.

Today, the supply of homes to purchase is low, demand is high, and home values are on the rise. Multiple offers are once again the norm. Homes are flying off the market and into escrow. And, tight lending qualifications continue to be the bedrock and strength of housing.

Even with the strength, many homeowners are worried that the housing market will tank again, and a wave of foreclosures will inevitably follow. This stems from remembering the burn from the Great Recession. Everybody was either burned or knew someone who was hurt by the collapse in housing prices. The economy ground to a halt and unemployment grew to levels last seen at the beginning of the 1980’s. With COVID-19, the economy stopped and unemployment spiked to levels not seen since the Great Depression. As a result, everyone is jumping to the worst-case scenario in their collective minds: housing must suffer.

The current recession is unprecedented. Recessions occur due to a weakness in one area of the economy that is preceded by an implosion of an asset bubble. However, the current COVID-19 recession was instigated by a forced stop of the economy, which allowed United States citizens the ability to hunker down and flatten the curve in the spread of the Coronavirus. It was the pandemic that caused the recession and not a single sector of the economy. This is precisely why the recovery has been distinctly different than a customary recovery. Housing has seen a “v-shaped” recovery, and so has manufacturing and retail sales.

A closer look at unemployment illustrates that it is affecting the lower wage earners. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bureau of Statistics, employment has only dropped 2% since December 2019 for those with bachelor’s degrees. For 16 to 24-year old’s, employment has dropped by 20.6%. Restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks, and many retail stores have been hit hard. Younger workers have been hit the hardest. Younger, lower wage earners are not homeowners.

There are about 4 million homeowners in active forbearance, which is 7.5% of all active mortgage. Of all current forbearances which are past due on their mortgage payment, 77% have at least 20% equity in their homes, and 90% have at least 10% equity. Upon exiting forbearance, homeowners can negotiate a payment plan to pay back the missed mortgage payments or defer the payments to the back end of their loans. If they are continuing to experience a hardship and are forced to sell, most will have plenty of equity to tap into that will allow them to sell, avoiding the short sale or foreclosure route.

With about 10% of homeowners in forbearance with less than 10% equity, those owners are vulnerable to becoming a distressed sale if they experience a financial hardship. That amounts to approximately 400,000 homeowners. But not all 100% will suffer this fate. Also, with values on the rise, their equity positions will increase in time. Some will not be able to avoid becoming a foreclosure or short sale statistic, but that is a 2021 story. It will be more of ripple in the market than a wave.

The bottom line: do not count on a wave of foreclosures or short sales due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 recession. While there may be a bit more distressed in 2021, a slight rise, it will pale in comparison to the Great Recession. Nobody should expect any type of a deal anytime soon, especially with mortgage rates that dipped below 3%, reaching yet another record low.

from Steven Thomas’ latest Orange County Housing Report

Behind the Sale: Home Staging

Check out my podcast where I take you behind the scenes of one of my listings. Homeowners had lived there for decades, and were ready to downsize. They needed my help with de-cluttering and home staging to get it ready to go on the market. Had to take many things into consideration on this transaction in order for it to be successful. In the end, it worked out very well for all parties. Enjoy!

Home Staging Jackie Gibbins

Orange County Real Estate Market June 2020

Here are a few FACTS about the Real Estate Market in Orange County for first week of June, 2020

Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, increased from 1,622 to 2,035, an additional 413 pending sales, up an incredible 23% in just two weeks. In the past 4-weeks, demand has added 863 pending sales, a 74% rise. With mortgage rates dropping to 3.15%, an all-time record low, more buyers are entering the market, eager to take advantage of extremely favorable home affordability. Expect demand to continue to increase as more inventory comes on the market.

Last year, there were 611 more pending sales than today, 23% extra. In mid-April, at the low point of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand was off by 60% year over year. The year over year gap is narrowing as the market continues to heat up.

In the past two-weeks the Expected Market Time dropped from 90 to 74 days, a slight Seller’s Market (between 60 and 90 days), where sellers get to call more of the shots during the negotiating process, yet home values are not changing much. Last year the Expected Market Time was at 85 days, slower than today.

  • The active listing inventory increased by 177 homes in the past two-weeks, up 4%, and now totals 5,044. In the past four-weeks, 33% fewer homes were placed on the market compared to the prior 5-year average; thus, COVID-19 is suppressing the inventory. It was 54% fewer four-weeks ago. Last year, there were 7,479 homes on the market, 2,435 more than today, a 48% difference.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, increased by 413 pending sales in the past two-weeks, up 25%, and now totals 2,035. It has grown by 74% in only 4 weeks. COVID-19’s effect on housing is rapidly diminishing. Last year, there were 2,646 pending sales, 23% more than today.
  • The Expected Market Time for all of Orange County decreased from 90 days to 74, a slight Seller’s Market (between 60 and 90 days). The drop was due to the surge in demand outpacing the rise in the supply. It was at 85 days last year, slower than today.
  • For homes priced below $750,000, the market is a hot Seller’s Market (less than 60 days) with an expected market time of 53 days. This range represents 35% of the active inventory and 50% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 56 days, a hot Seller’s Market. This range represents 19% of the active inventory and 25% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $1 million to $1.25 million, the expected market time is 83 days, a slight Seller’s Market (between 60 and 90 days).
  • For luxury homes priced between $1.25 million and $1.5 million, in the past two weeks, the Expected Market Time decreased from 129 to 98 days. For homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million, the Expected Market Time decreased from 158 to 116 days. For luxury homes priced between $2 million and $4 million, the Expected Market Time decreased from 368 to 258 days. For luxury homes priced above $4 million, the Expected Market Time decreased from 540 to 455 days.
  • The luxury end, all homes above $1.25 million, accounts for 35% of the inventory and only 15% of demand.
  • Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, made up only 0.8% of all listings and 0.9% of demand. There are only 16 foreclosure s and 22 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, 38 total distressed homes on the active market, down 4 from two-weeks ago. Last year there were 65 total distressed homes on the market, slightly more than today.
  • There were 1,712 closed residential resales in April, 34% fewer than April 2019’s 2,599 closed sales. This is entirely due to COVID-19 suppressing both supply and demand. April marked a 28% drop compared to March 2020. The sales to list price ratio was 98.3% for all of Orange County. Foreclosures accounted for just 0.3% of all closed sales, and short sales accounted for 0.4%. That means that 99.3% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned sellers with equity.