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Orange County home sales drop 11% after $145,000 price jump

Orange County’s skyrocketing home prices outpaced any savings low mortgage rates created, resulting in a rare, mid-spring sales drop.

In another pandemic era oddity, house hunters pulled back as affordability waned and homes that were on the market sold swiftly. Traditionally strong May saw transaction counts drop from April across Southern California.

Here’s what my trusty spreadsheet found within DQNews/CoreLogic’s report on closed transactions in May for Orange County …

Sales: 3,491 existing and new residences sold, an 11% drop from April. The month of May has averaged a 5.6% gain since 1988, a period in which sales increased in 25 of the last 34 years.

To be fair, last month’s sales were up 113% from the locked-down May 2020, hitting a three-year high for a May. It was also 9% above the 10-year average buying pace.

Past 12 months? 40,570 Orange County sales — 25% above the previous 12 months and 17% above the 10-year average.

Prices: The countywide $895,000 median was up $145,000 or 19% over 12 months. Over 10 years, gains averaged 7.7% annually. The latest 12-month gain ranks No. 35 of 389 periods since 1988. The latest median breaks the record of $872,250 set in March.

Past 12 months? Seven records set. The median rose $145,000, an increase equal to $16.55 for each hour over 12 months.

Too hot? Check “Bubble Watch” columns by clicking here.

Here’s a look into key slices of Orange County’s market for May …

Existing single-family houses: 2,139 sold, up 105% in a year. Median of $1.02 million is up 28% over 12 months.

Existing condos: 1,033 sales, up 142% over 12 months. Median of $620,000 is up 19% in a year.

Newly built: Builders sold 319 new homes, up 92% in a year. Median of $1.05 million is up 9.8% over 12 months.

Builder share: 9.1% of sales vs. 10.1% a year earlier. Orange County builders’ slice of the market ranks No. 3 among SoCal’s six counties.

How cheap is money? Rates on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.03% in the three months ending in May vs. 3.33% a year earlier. That translates to 4% more buying power for house hunters.

At these rates, a buyer with 20% down would pay $3,032 a month on the $895,000 median sale vs. $2,637 on last year’s $750,000 median. So during the past year, the typical house payment is 15% pricier.

How swift is the purchasing pace? Homes that sold averaged just eight days on the market in the Inland Empire; 10 days in Los Angeles and Orange counties, Zillow reported.

Around Southern California, according to DQNews’ latest report on closed sales in May compared to a year earlier …

Six-county region: 23,956 sold, down 8% for the month, but up 95% in a year. Median? record $667,000 — a 25% increase in 12 months.

Los Angeles County: 7,800 sold, down 7% for the month, but up 117% in a year. Median? record $775,000 — a 25% increase.

Riverside County: 4,358 sales, down 7% for the month, but up 82% in a year. Median? record $502,250 — a 23% increase.

San Bernardino County: 2,960 sold, down 10% for the month, but up 61% in a year. Median? $432,000 — a 17% increase.

San Diego County: 4,222 sold, down 7% for the month, but up 82% in a year. Median? record $725,000 — a 23% increase.

Ventura County: 1,125 sold, down 6% for the month, but up 129% in a year. Median? $701,500 — a 21% increase.

Jonathan Lansner is business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

Source: Orange County Register

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