OC Housing Report | Broad Market Interruption

Like the rest of “daily life,” the housing market has not been spared from the sweeping effects of sheltering in place.

Supply and Demand: A low supply is confronted with low demand.

Life has changed. Public schools, private schools, day care, universities, date night, dine-in restaurants, sporting events, organized sports, concerts, movie theaters, trips to the mall, amusement parks, public pools, beaches, neighborhood parks, travel, and frozen yogurt have all been put on hold. The “stay at home” order has affected every aspect of daily life. The Orange County housing market is no different. A man in Orange County tested positive for COVID-19 on January 25th, becoming the first confirmed case in California. On March 4th, Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency for the Golden State. Disneyland closed its gates and most major sports leagues suspended their seasons on March 12th. Schools closed on March 13th. The “stay at home” order was announced by the governor on March 19th. That means that California citizens had been sheltering in place for four weeks as of April 16th.

Demand is defined as the past 30-days of pending sales activity. Up to this point, demand readings have included weeks prior to the order when the housing market was still hitting on all cylinders. The market was scorching hot at the very beginning of march despite the state of emergency that was declared. The market began to decelerate in the second week of March. By March 19th, with the kids already at home and preparing for online learning, housing demand slowed to a COVID-19 crawl. It was at inherent demand levels. Now that it has been more than four weeks of virus suppressed demand, the Orange County demand readings are a true depiction of the number of pending sales that will take place under the “stay at home” circumstances. The current reading is an accurate indicator of the current market until the economy begins to reopen down the road. There is a broad housing market interruption due to the Coronavirus that has had a major impact on the velocity of the market, demand, and the supply of homes, the active inventory. Both have been impacted significantly. Yes, demand is at ultra-low, anemic levels, but so is the active listing inventory. Buyers are not writing that many offers, and fewer homeowners are pounding FOR SALE signs in their front yards.

As a result of everyday life grinding to a halt, demand dropped by 55% in the past month, from 2,398 pending sales to 1,080. These demand levels were last seen in 2007. Since the “stay at home” order on March 19th, the number of homes placed on the market dropped by 52% compared to the prior 5-year average. That is 1,972 fewer homeowners entering the fray. Consequently, the active inventory has only grown by 185 homes in the past four weeks, a 4% rise, and the inventory now sits at 4,344 homes. While demand may be at Great Recession levels, the inventory is not growing like it did in 2006 through 2008 when it reached nearly 18,000 homes.

In looking at the county’s different price ranges and detached versus attached, the entire market has been impacted. Yet, there are a few ranges that are still functioning. They have evolved from an extremely hot price range to one that still favors sellers but a bit slower. For detached homes, everything below $1 million lines up at least slightly in the seller’s favor. Between $500,000 to $750,000, the “bread and butter” of the local housing market, detached homes are obtaining more offers than any other range and sellers get to call most of the shots. The Expected Market Time (the time between hammering in the FOR-SALE sign to opening escrow) for that range is at 49 days, a Seller’s Market. Four weeks ago, it was at 25 days. For detached above $1,000,000, the market slows considerably, leaning in favor of buyers. Above $2 million has nearly ground to a halt. For attached, only condominiums between $250,000 to $500,000 slightly favors sellers with an Expected Market Time of 85 days. It was at 34 days four weeks ago. The $500,000 to $750,000 price range for condominiums is balanced. All other condominium ranges, including those below $250,000, favor buyers. For attached above $1 million, the market is extremely slow.




About the Author

Tim Morissette, also known in the community as Mr. Foothill Ranch, offers over 46 years of real estate experience which has given him an established reputation and unmatched market knowledge. He is joined by his wife, Michele and sons Matt and Jeff, as they continue to offer personal service with an emphasis on achieving his clients’ real estate goals.  This unique combination of traits has led to his proven track record of referral and repeat business. This can be witnessed by the trust of homeowners in Foothill Ranch where he has sold twice as many homes and represented three times more buyers than the next-leading real estate agent for the last 26 years.

As residents of Foothill Ranch since 1994, Tim and Michele are actively involved in the community by fundraising for Foothill Ranch Library, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Cancer Society, Homes for Habitat, Relay for Life, South County Outreach, and the local church and schools. Tim enjoys sponsoring community-wide garage sales, paper shredding and e-waste recycling event, an Easter egg hunt, & a Meet Santa Event.

Tim and Michele are dedicated to their family of four sons, daughter-in-laws, and grandchildren. As a family, they enjoy many outdoor activities which include camping, spearfishing, mountain climbing and exploring the miles of hiking and equestrian trails in Foothill Ranch and the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Tim and his sons are also avid snowboarders and enjoy mountain biking and lobster diving. Family is a top priority in the Morissette household. They look forward to helping more families achieve their dreams of homeownership.