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City                      Homes for Sale                     Homes in Escrow

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Newport Coast            148                                         54

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Orange                       382                                        259

Laguna Beach             368                                       64

For questions regarding this information contact Ashlie DuCros at 714-743-9778

Prices are firming up only at the low end

by Ashlie DuCros

Home prices, sales up

 

Market’s high end awakened in April, pulling up median.

 

By JEFF COLLINS and JONATHAN LANSNER THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER 



    The recovering housing market got a boost in April from a reawakening high-end segment, figures from market tracker MDA DataQuick show. 

    Price cuts are getting buyers to buy pricier homes, pushing the median price up. 

    “Price drops (at the high end) and the numbers of sales are certainly bringing up the median,” said Lesslie Giacobbi, an agent for Seven Gables Real Estate. 

    The result, DataQuick reported Tuesday, was a 13.2 percent gain in the median price of an Orange County home – or the price at the midpoint of all sales. 

    Last month’s median was $430,000, which was $50,000 higher than in April 2009. 

    Sales likewise showed signs of improvement, climbing to 2,669 deals in April. That’s up 11.6 percent from April 2009 and was the largest number of homes sold in three years. 

    The year-over-year gains were fairly widespread throughout the county. Breaking down market trends by ZIP code, the numbers show: 

    Sixty-two of Orange County’s 83 ZIP codes had gains in median selling price. 

    Forty-eight local ZIP codes had year-over-year sales gains. 

    Thirty-four local ZIP codes had both sales gains and price gains. 

    Broker Ron Accornero of OC Signature Properties in Orange said that homes in Villa Park that once sold for more than $1 million are now selling for around $800,000 or $900,000. Homes priced above $1 million still are not moving, he said. 

    Rich Cosner, president of a chain of Prudential California Realty offices in north Orange County and the Inland Empire, said that most of the high-end sales are due to increased demand. 

    “The last few years, (the price of a home) has been artificially low because there were so few homes selling over $1 million in the county,” he said. “We are seeing that market come back.” 

    DataQuick figures show that homes priced at $700,000 and above accounted for 20 percent of all sales, the highest proportion in nearly two years. Sales in that price bracket fell to 12 percent of all sales in January 2009. 

    Cosner and Accornero said that demand remains overheated for homes at the lower end of the price spectrum because there now are too few homes selling for less than $500,000. 

    Prices, added Giacobbi, are firming up only at the low end “where investors are paying all cash. All cash is about 20 percent of the sales, and that’s more than it used to be.” 

    Cosner said that 10 or more offers still are common for homes selling at $500,000 and below. 

    “Buyers in this price range are still of the belief that it is a buyer’s market and they can make low offers on properties,” Cosner said. “They learn quickly, after losing out on properties, that this is just not the case. Under $500,000 today the issue is can you get the property at all, not how good of a deal you can get on it.” 

    Meanwhile, the number of homes going into default continued to decline, Data-Quick figures show. 

    DataQuick reported that 1,625 homeowners received notices of default, issued after at least three months of missed payments. That’s down 45 percent from a year ago and down 16 percent from March. 

    Still, 797 homeowners lost their homes at foreclosure sales, 65 percent more than in April 2009. Although up from a year ago, foreclosures have been relatively flat since June. 

    Meanwhile, sales of homes for less than is owed on the mortgage – so-called short sales – continue to dominate the market. 

    Giacobbi said she’s heard estimates that 35 percent to 40 percent of all deals are short sales these days. Those deals are more timeconsuming since the lender with the outstanding loan must approve them. 

    “Some of the banks are terrific to work with. Others are disasters,” Giacobbi said. “It’s not uncommon to be in escrow for months, and when you go back to the agent, she says the buyer lost interest.” 

    Giacobbi estimated that 1 in 8 of those attempting short sales have the means to pay their loan, but decided to walk away from the home because it’s lost so much value and wiped out all of their equity. 

    “They’re not willing to keep making payments on their house,” she said. 

    Agents say it remains to be seen how the expiration of federal tax credits will affect the market. Buyers have until the end of May to close deals to qualify for federal tax credits. 

    The state tax credit, which began May 1, has yet to have an impact, they said. 

    “There is strong demand in the market, and housing in O.C. would have sold with or without the tax credit,” Cosner said. 

    “Since it was available, people would be foolish not to take advantage of it. That being said, the tax credit was not something that would make most people go out and buy a house who were not already thinking about buying.” 

for questions regarding this article contact Ashlie DuCros at 714-743-9778

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Ashlie DuCros & Associates
Coldwell Banker Previews Global Luxury
21580 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Yorba Linda CA 92887
714-743-9778
Fax: 714-849-5489