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Orange County housing’s year-end surge: Sales up 17.7%, prices rise 8.2%

Orange County’s housing market concluded a remarkable 2020 with sales up 17.7% from December 2019 as prices rose 8.2% in a year.

Historically cheap interest rates and limited inventory made house hunting tricky for buyers seeking more space. A study by DQNews/CoreLogic of closed transactions in Orange County from December shows …

Sales: 3,611 existing and new homes sold, up 17.7% in a year. For the year, Orange County recorded 34,939 purchases, up 3.7% above the previous 12 months and 0.6% above the average since 2010.

Prices: The countywide median sales price was $795,000, up 8.2% over 12 months. Record high? $800,000 set in August. Since the Great Recession? Up 23% vs. bubble-era high.

Winter’s buying binge continued a reversal from the pandemic’s early spring chill. Sales across the six-county region in December were 29% above a year earlier and the fastest buying pace for any month since June 2017.

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

Existing single-family houses: 2,254 sold, up 30% in a year. Median of $890,000 — a 12.5% increase over 12 months.

Existing condos: 1,021 sales, up 26% over 12 months. Median of $549,500 — a 3.7% increase in a year.

Newly built: Builders sold 336 new homes, down 36% in a year. Median of $882,000 — a 1.4% increase over 12 months.

Builder share: 9.3% of sales vs. 17.2% a year earlier. Orange County builders’ slice of the market ranks No. 3 among SoCal’s six counties.

Price rank: How Orange County’s median compared with Southern California’s five other counties: No. 1 overall; No. 1 for single-family resales; No. 2 for condo resales; and No. 1 for new homes.

Leaving California? Here’s a ranking of the best states  for relocation.

How cheap is money? Rates on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.76% in the three months ending in December vs. 3.7% a year earlier. That translates to house hunters having 13% more buying power.

At these rates, a buyer with 20% down would pay $2,600 a month on the $795,000 median sale vs. $2,707 a year earlier on last year’s $735,000 median. So during the past year, the typical house payment is 4% cheaper.

How thin is supply? reports Inland Empire inventory fell 57% in the year ended in December, the largest drop among the nation’s 50 biggest metros. Listings were on the market for an average of 51 days, 11th-lowest nationally. Supply in Los Angeles and Orange counties fell 14%, the fourth-smallest dip, and listings sat on the market 65 days, eighth-highest.

Around Southern California, according to DQNews’ latest report on closed sales in December …

Six-county region: 24,995 sold, up 29% over 12 months. Median? $600,000 — a 10.1% increase.

Los Angeles County: 7,961 sold, up 26% over 12 months. Median? $700,000 — a 11.4% increase.

Riverside County: 4,903 sales, up 40%. Median? $442,500 — a 11.2% increase.

San Bernardino County: 3,266 sold, up 35%. Median? $400,000 — a 12.7% increase.

San Diego County: 4,174 sold, up 27%. Median? $645,000 — a 12.2% increase.

Ventura County: 1,080 sold, up 40%. Median? $650,000 — a 14.2% increase.

Source: Orange County Register

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