Category Archives: Finding your ideal home

The State of Real Estate

As we head into summer, the real estate market is expected to heat up. It usually does this time of year because families want to move and settle in before the school year begins.

So, who stands to benefit most from the current market–buyers or sellers? Well, for once, I’d say both. Here’s why I think the market is looking healthy:

Home equity is up
According to CoreLogic DataQuick, the median price of an Orange County home is right around $590K, up 4.2% from the previous year. That’s the 5th highest median home price since they began tracking in 2012, and comes to within 8% of the all-time high of $645K.

Here’s a breakdown of the market by California county:

County/region Median price 1 yr ch Sales 1 yr ch
Orange $590,750 4.2% 2,074 -1.5%
Los Angeles $465,000 9.2% 4,479 -2.5%
Riverside $305,000 7.0% 2,349 -3.8%
San Bernardino $250,000 11.1% 1,631 -11.5%
San Diego $440,000 7.3% 2,568 1.1%
Ventura $460,000 6.5% 549 9.8%
Southern California Total $415,000 8.4% 13,650 -2.7%

Source: OC Register

These rising prices are not unique to Orange County (Source: Money magazine). Home prices nationwide are expected to rise 4.9% on average this year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That’s closer than we’ve been in a while to the long-term average of 3.3%–and a lot more manageable than either the sharp drops of the bust years or the 12% spike we saw in 2013.

What this means is that if you own a home, you can take comfort in its increasing value. And, depending on when you bought and the type of loan you got, you may even want to refinance. For a while, it wasn’t possible for many homeowners to refinance because they didn’t have equity in their home (meaning, the value of the house was lower than what they owed on their mortgage). With rising property values, only 11% of owners have negative equity.

Now that people have more equity in their homes, they’re more open to selling and buying something new. This is a great sign of a healthy market.

Interest rates are still low
Despite predictions that interest rates could tick up by summer, the 30-year fixed rate (most recently at 3.7%) is still relatively low. NAR is forecasting that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will average 4.3% in the third quarter of this year, 4.7% in the fourth, and 5.3% over all of 2016 (Source: Money magazine). For perspective, on a $300,000 loan, the difference between 3.7% and 5.3% would be $285/month ($102,600 over the life of the loan).

Low interest rates are good for buyers for obvious reasons, and they’re good for sellers too. Buyers know the rates won’t last forever, so if the rates tick up this summer, there could be a rush to buy. Of course, if rates go up too far, that will mean home prices take a dip. After all, home buyers look at their monthly payment and, with higher interest rates, they can’t afford as big of a sticker price.

Inventory is stabilizing
According to Money magazine, nationwide inventory is expected to loosen up, with 1.9 milliion units on the market this year. For the second year in a row, the number of homes that were “flipped” has dropped, while the foreclosure rate is less than half what it was 2 years ago.

Also, with a healthier market, builders are picking up the pace and there is expected to be an increase in houses and condos for sale this year. That means more to choose from for buyers.

Bidding wars aren’t as common
Because prices are more stable now, there aren’t as many “deals” for investors to pounce on. And with fewer investors in the picture, regular buyers have more opportunity and don’t have to worry as much about being priced out in bidding wars or by all-cash offers.

If you’re looking to buy or sell, or just have questions about the market, contact me . I’d love to help!

Why Orange County is a great place to live

 palm tree heart on beach

I could probably come up with 100 reasons why Orange County is a great place to live, but I’ll stick to the top 5.

1. Orange County has a number of desirable, diverse communities.
There really is a city for anyone within Orange County. Love downtown city life? Try Santa Ana. Want something sleepy and suburban? Laguna Niguel could be your home. Craving a laid-back beach neighborhood? Visit San Clemente. Need to be in the hills, away from it all? Check out Trabuco Canyon.

2. There are all kinds of homes.
Craftsman-style cottages, hillside estates, expansive ranchers, Spanish-style abodes, modern oceanfront mansions, 1950’s beach homes, trendy condos, cozy townhomes–we’ve got it all.

3. You will never be bored.
My wife and I always say that we’re overwhelmed with the number of things to do. On any given weekend, you can try surfing or paddle boarding, see whales out on a boat, ride bike trails for miles, hike in the hills–you name it. You won’t have to go far for farmer’s markets, concerts in parks, and other community events. Plus, Orange County has some of the best restaurants in California, in addition to shopping centers like Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza, museums, theaters, and sports venues (Go Angels!).

4. The schools are great. 
Orange County boasts a number of schools that are ranked 9 or 10. There are wonderful community colleges, state colleges, and universities in Orange County, too.

5. One word: Weather.
I always say the climate here has spoiled me. I’m not sure I could live anywhere else after living here. Most days are sunny, so the occasional rainy day in winter is actually nice. Most outdoor activities can be done any time of the year. That’s not true for very many places!