OC Home Prices Jump

Any potential home buyer in Orange County should not wait to move on that purchase, because home prices in OC finished last year with a clear spike upward.

According to a report from DataQuick (DQ) the median price for houses and condos in Orange County for December 2012 rose to $470,000, the highest level in 4 ½ years.   This figure was 17.5 percent higher than the same period one year earlier, and is the highest median price since June 2008.

At the same time the DQ report states that home shoppers in OC bought 34,380 homes for all of 2012, which was the most home sales for any year since 2006. Homes sales for December alone surged 19.4 percent above the same month one year earlier.

The California Association of Realtors reports that existing Orange County single-family houses sold in December for a median price of $582,930.  This was a 20.3 percent jump from December 2011, and it was the highest median price for single-family homes since March 2008. It was also reported that there was a 24.2 percent gain in home sales.

The jump in home prices was attributed to the price bottom being hit earlier in the year, with nowhere to go but up.  Also record low mortgage interest rates helped buyers to make the purchase decision, which pushed prices upwards because the available home inventory fell to the lowest level in nearly a decade.

Foreclosures in Orange County for 2012 fell 37 percent from 2011 and were 61 percent below the peak in 2008.  The drop in the number of foreclosures and “short sales” accelerated demand thus pushing prices higher.

The DataQuick report reveals that sales for homes priced at $700,000 or more accounted for 23 percent of all Orange County transactions in December; this compared to 16 percent a year before, while transactions for $2 million or more increased 48 percent last year compared to 2011.

But put into perspective, last year’s sales are still 20 percent below the average number of transactions per year in Orange County for the preceding 24 years.