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Orange County homebuying’s 1st double dip in 16 months

Orange County’s home sales and pricing fell in September from August — the first double-dip in house hunting since locked-down May 2020.

DQNews’ report on closed transactions showed Southern California’s six-county median sales price hit another record high in September despite slowing sales from August. The region had 23,960 sales, down 2.7% for the month, but up 0.6% in a year. The record median of $688,500 was up 1.3% for the month, up 12.9% in a year.

Here are 12 homebuying trends my trusty spreadsheet found in September for Orange County …

1. Sales: 3,464 existing and new residences sold — down 6.6% from August and down 8% from September 2020.

2. Context: This was the 13th-busiest September of the 34 since 1988. Last month’s sales were 16% above the 10-year average buying pace for September. Since 1988, a typical September sees a one-month sales drop 88% of the time with an average 9.6% decrease from August.

3. Past 12 months? 42,385 Orange County purchases were 28% above the previous 12 months and 22% above the 10-year average.

4. Prices: The countywide $890,000 median for all homes was down 1.1% in a month and up 13% over 12 months. Record high? $905,000 set in July.

5. Context: Over 10 years, price gains averaged 7.9% annually. The latest performance tops 79% of all 12-month periods since 1988.

6. Pandemic era? 10 price records have been broken since February 2020. The median’s $141,500 increase over these 19 months equals a $10.17 gain every hour.

Here’s a look into key slices of Orange County data for September …

7. Existing single-family houses: 2,200 sold, down 9% in a year. Median of $1,020,000 was a 17% increase over 12 months.

8. Existing condos: 1,033 sales, down 4% over 12 months. Median of $640,000 was a 12% increase in a year.

9. Newly built: Builders sold 231 new homes, down 15% in a year. Median of $1,077,000 was a 14% increase over 12 months.

10. Builder share: 6.7% of sales vs. 7.3% a year earlier. Orange County builders’ slice of the market ranks No. 3 among SoCal’s six counties.

And the bigger picture …

11. Rates: How cheap is money? Rates on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.87% in the three months ending in September vs. 3.60% in February 2020, before the pandemic struck. That translates to 10% more buying power for house hunters.

At these rates, a buyer with 20% down would pay $2,952 a month on the latest $890,000 median vs. $2,723 on February 2020’s $748,500 median. So during the pandemic era, sale prices rose 19% but just 8% for a theoretical house payment.

12. Supply: House hunters still must search hard for something to buy. The number of Southern California homes for sale was 13% below September 2020, stats show.

Around Southern California, sales fell in all six counties from August to September while prices rose in three of them. Here are the details … 

Los Angeles County: 7,736 sold, down 0.8% for the month, but up 6.2% in a year. Median was a record-tying $795,000, up 1.3% for the month, up 12.0% in a year.

Riverside County: 4,256 sales, down 1.9% for the month, but up 3.2% in a year. Median was a record $527,000, up 0.4% for the month up 18.0% in a year.

San Bernardino County: 3,252 sold, down 4.6% for the month, but up 1.5% in a year. Median of $463,000 was down 0.4% for the month but up 16.8% in a year.

San Diego County: 4,148 purchases, down 2.8% for the month, down 3.9% in a year. Median of $740,000 was up 2.1% for the month but up 13.8% in a year.

Ventura County: 1,104 sold, down 0.6% for the month, down 2.3% in a year. Median of $725,000 was down 2.1% for the month but up 9.0% in a year.

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

Source: Orange County Register

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