What to Expect in the Fall Real Estate Market in OC

Many buyers mistake the end of the year as THE best time to purchase. They know that it is no longer the hottest time of the year for real estate, so they believe they can get a “deal” during the slower months. That is not the case. Instead, the market will remain the same until ringing in 2022. With both the inventory and demand dropping at similar rates, the overall feel of the market, will not change. This results is a Market Time that remains almost unchanged.

In looking at the 5-year average from 2015 through 2019 (excluding 2020 due to COVID-19 skewing the data), the supply of homes has decreased by 16% from the end of August to the second week of November. On average, demand dropped by 16%, and the Expected Market Time increased by 1 day. That would be a decrease in the supply of available homes from 2,528 two weeks ago to 2,123 homes by mid-November. Demand would drop from 2,694 pending sales to 2,253. With both supply and demand falling, the Expected Market Time would rise from 28 to 29 days, the highest level since the start of February.

An Expected Market Time below 40 days is nothing short of insanity. It is when there are plenty of showings, sellers get to call the shots during the negotiating process, multiple offers are the norm, and home values are rising rapidly. With the Orange County housing market stuck well below 40 days through the end of the year, what you see is what you get. Even with demand falling along with inventory, the overall feel of the market for buyers will not change much at all. 

For sellers, the only perceivable change will be slightly fewer showings and slightly fewer offers due to a smaller number of buyers in the marketplace. A home that may have garnered 100 showings in a few days back in the Spring Market could see 50 during the Autumn Market, 10 offers compared to 20. The result will still be the same, homes that sell fast with plenty of offers and sales prices above their asking prices.

For buyers, there may be fewer buyers participating in the marketplace, but there are diminished opportunities with not as many homes coming on the market. With fewer choices, the remaining buyers will still be bumping into each other when something new hits the market. Buyers should not expect anything to change anytime soon, especially with interest rates that remain at record low levels.

Now that the Autumn Market is here, there will be fewer homes coming on the market, demand will decrease, and housing will not change much. The calm of autumn means less activity and a cyclical change to housing.

Historical Interest Rates

I receive interest updates from several sources all the time. Recently, one source posted some historical interest rates along with the current interest rates. Thought I would share.

Currently, a 30-year fixed Mortgage rate is 2.77%, 3 basis points lower versus last week! 15-year fixed rate is 2.1%, unchanged versus one week ago.

Now for the historic interest rates:

  • Average 30-year Interest Rate in the 2010’s: 4.1%
  • Average 30-year Interest Rate in the 2000’s: 6.9%
  • Average 30-year Interest Rate in the 90’s: 8.1%
  • Average 30-year Interest Rate in the 80’s: 12.7%

Interest rates have an affect on home prices, as you might expect. When I purchased a home in the early 1980’s in South Orange County, it cost $157,000. That’s about what I could afford with a 12% interest rate! If rates were lower at the time, I, along with thousands of other buyers, could afford more home! It would most likely have driven up home prices (supply and demand).

Staged and Sold in Irvine

I love helping folks buy and sell their homes here in Orange County. One thing I truly enjoy is helping them stage their home as needed.

Earlier this year, a past client called me to help sell this home. This was the third property I would sell for them! It was a wonderful, newer home, three bedrooms and three baths and nicely updated! But they wanted to move out during the selling process, so the home would be empty. I knew it would sell for more if it were staged, so I went to work staging the entire home and the patio.

You can see that before there was no dining table, so I added a dining table. And there was plenty of room to spare for ample seating in the living area. Living plants add life and a wonderful feel to any home. Bright, happy colors like orange also make a statement. In almost all my staging, I add orange!

There were MANY showings, and we received over a dozen offers, all over the asking price of $835,000. It sold for $880,000, higher than any home like it in the neighborhood had sold before!

When I listed this home for sale in April of 2021, it was a strong seller’s market in Irvine. I could have just listed and sold it empty, but the extra effort ALWAYS pays off. My staging is offered as part of my agent services package to the seller.

See the virtual tour of this beautiful home below.

OC Housing Market – Still Strong

When housing is surging with seemingly no end in sight, society cannot help but flashback to 2001 through 2006. In 2004 and 2005, the Case-Shiller U.S. Home Price Index showed red-hot home price appreciation between 10% and 14.5%. Everybody knows what happened next, the housing bubble eventually popped and led to double digit home price depreciation in 2008 and 2009. In May of this year, U.S. home price appreciation reached 14.6%, its highest level since tracking began in 1988. Yet, today’s housing market is glaringly different than the run-up to the Great Recession. That housing stock was built on the backs of easy credit, pick-a-payment plan, subprime lending, zero-down loans, easy qualifying, and fraudulent lending. Prior to the bubble deflating, there were obvious signs of a pending housing collapse: way too much supply of available homes to purchase and diminished year over year demand. The simple Econ 101 principle of supply and demand painted the inevitable housing plunge.

Today, it is completely different. There is no credit bubble like before. It is not easy credit that is the catalyst to the highest appreciation on record. Buyers cannot merely fog a mirror to obtain financing. Instead, they must qualify for loans, prove that they can afford the monthly payment. The process is intentionally cumbersome to prevent a repeat of 2007 to 2011. The current housing boom is quite simply due to supply and demand. Everyone is acutely aware of the current plight of the housing market: there just are not enough available homes to purchase. Supply is low. Recently the supply has been rising, up 14% in the past 4 weeks, but still at historical lows. At 2,528 homes, it is 46% less than last year’s level of 4,645, which was muted due to COVID-19. In comparing it to the 5-year average from 2015 to 2019 of 6,820 homes, it is 63% less. There are just not enough homes to satisfy the immense buying demand. That is the real issue, the supply side of the equation. For comparison purposes, in 2008 there were 18,000 available homes in Orange County. In 2006, a year before the start of the Great Recession, there were 16,000.

How about the demand side of the equation? It is elevated due to the historically low mortgage rate environment. After COVID-19 hit, mortgage rates achieved 17 record lows, starting with 3.29% in March 2020. It dropped to 2.65% during the first week of January this year. The record prior to last year was achieved in November 2012 at 3.31%. Last Thursday, July 8th, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, rates dropped to 2.9%. Prior to COVID, rates were hovering around 3.75%. Combine today’s low rates with a strongest demographic patch of First-Time home buyers in decades, and it is easy to see where all the demand is coming from. Even as values rise, homes are still affordable when factoring in rates and incomes.

Recently, demand has been dropping, shedding 10% in the past 4-weeks, but it remains elevated compared to prior years. Demand, the last 30-days of new pending sale activity, is at 2,761. It is 9% less than last year’s 3,050 pending sales, but last year’s numbers were skewed because of COVID. In comparing it to the 5-year average from 2015 to 2019 of 2,699 homes, it is 2% more. And, today’s level is being achieved with a muted supply and a lot fewer homeowners placing their homes on the market. There are 1,910 fewer FOR-SALE signs this year compared to the 5-year average between 2015 to 2019, 8% less. More homes would have translated to higher demand readings.

It is important to also mention that there is not going to be a wave of foreclosures that will hit the market as soon as Forbearance comes to an end for a variety of sound economic reasons. Many doomsayers point to Forbearance and simply state that there will be a flood of foreclosures, and values will plunge like the Great Recession. The facts do not support this claim. There have been 7.2 million homeowners who have taken advantage of Forbearance. Of the 5.2 million homeowners who have exited Forbearance, 90% either are currently paying on time or paid off their loan. Of the 2 million homeowners with an active Forbearance, 90% have at least 10% equity, enough to sell their homes if they remain in a financial pickle.