Southern California Home Sales and Prices Up, Outlook Promising

Two new reports identify promising trends in the local housing market this month along with several surprising job and demographic trends in Orange County over decades.
From May 2011, home sales in Orange County jumped 23.1 percent. Home prices also climbed, though much more modestly.
The median home price was $435,000 last month, which is an increase of 2.4 percent from $425,000 from May 2011. In Orange County, 3,279 homes were sold last month compared to 2,664 the same time last year.
The latest housing figures combined with a new report by UCI researchers identify a number of positive and surprising trends in factors that affect Orange County’s quality of life.
The market is slowly being nursed back to health by a modestly improved economy, low-interest rates, and, we suspect, that the housing sector is at or near bottom, said John Walsh, DataQuick president.
There’s still tremendous uncertainty swirling around out there. But it looks like more move-up buyers are concluding it makes sense in the long run to sell their homes now, even when it’s hard to swallow the price, he continued.
A total of 22,192 resale, new houses and condos sold in Orange, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Ventura counties in May, according to DataQuick. That’s an increase of 15.1 percent from 19,284 in April, and up 20.6 percent from 18,394 in May 2011.
Last month, the median price for a Southern California home was $295,000, up 1.7 percent from $290,000 in April and an increase of 5.4 percent from $280,000 in May 2011.
A Southern California Regional Progress Report released earlier this week by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, examines the juxtaposition of housing, commute times, jobs, and demographics in Orange County along with their quality of life impacts. The data indicates that Seal Beach fared better than the regional average.
This inaugural study provides a wealth of findings on the area’s changing landscape – findings that constitute critical considerations for successfully planning a future with healthy, sustainable, affordable, safe, economically vibrant and just communities in which residents enjoy the many benefits of Southern California, said Valerie Jenness, dean of UCI’s School of Social Ecology.
Among the findings released by UCI:

  • Most of the lowest foreclosure rates were found in affluent Orange County communities. The hardest-hit Orange County clusters in 2008 and 2009 were Santa Ana, Rancho Santa Margarita and Anaheim. Seal Beach was the only one in Orange County below the regional average for foreclosures from 1995 through 2010.
  • Many of the areas with the least overcrowded housing were in suburban locales, including Agoura Hills, Rancho Palos Verdes, Mission Viejo and Seal Beach. In Orange County, only Santa Ana had significant overcrowding, with more than 30 percent of its housing units qualifying as such in 2007.
  • Contrary to some perceptions, immigration growth was associated with more stable home values, lower joblessness and less crime in most parts of Southern California.
  • The clusters in which commute times were the shortest tended to be rich in jobs and available housing – a sign that mixed-use neighborhoods are more convenient for residents.
  • Irvine, a relatively employment-rich area had the lowest average commute time in the county (23 minutes). In all, seven of the 15 Orange County clusters examined saw commute-time decreases from 2000 through 2007.

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