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Orange County Market Update

The market continues to be busy in the lower end of the price range, and bank-owned and short sales are making up about 61% of all closed sales in Orange County. 

Today, there are a total of 11,577 homes for sale in Orange County.   Of those, 4783 (42%) are labeled as either bank owned or short sales.  Of the 4363 that are currently in escrow, 2925 (68%) are distressed.  In the last 30 days, 1018 (61%), of the 1653 closings were distressed.

Buyers are looking for the best values that they can find, and the best priced homes are usually bank owned.  Short sales are closing more often than in the past, but it is still frustrating for a buyer to make an offer, then have to wait weeks or months to get an answer from the lender.  It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the President’s new stimulus plan will have.  

The latest foreclosure listings are now posted for selected cities or areas in South Orange County.  If you are looking in an area that I haven’t included, please let me know and I’ll run the list just for you!

Other posts like this:

2008 End of Year Report 
2008 Orange County Mid-Year Report
2007 Orange County Sales Report

Search the 11,500+ homes in Orange County

Thanks for visiting!

Vicki Lloyd


Lake Forest Market Update – January Sales Report

January closed sales in Lake Forest, California were less than December, but still better than January 2008.  A total of 39 homes and condos closed this year, versus only 20 last year, an improvement of 95%!    

Single family homes :

20 homes closed escrow in January.  Foreclosures or short sales were 14 of the 20, so 70% of the sales were “distressed”.  The average price came to $498,512 ($270/square foot).  The *median was $473,500. 

The least expensive single family home in January was reported in the MLS as closed at $310,000 although when checking the title records, it shows a sales price of $330,000 with a $326,701 FHA loan.  (?)  I am only guessing, but the seller must have paid some closing costs and the buyer’s loan amount includes the upfront mortgage insurance premium along with some other closing costs.  The other possibility is that the listing agent made a typo when entering the closed price, and hasn’t corrected it.

The most expensive home sold in January closed at $795,000 ($245/square foot.)  It had been on the market since 4/07/08 and had been reduced 8 times from $919,900 down to $799,900 when it finally sold.  If the seller had priced it correctly to begin with, he would have saved 8 months of interest payments, taxes, insurance, and HOA dues, which I calculated to be worth a little over $30,000!

Condos & Townhomes:

19 condos or townhomes were closed in January.  Foreclosures and short sales made up all but one of them, so 95% of the January condo sales were “distressed”!  The average sales price was $209,350 ($194/square foot) and the median price was $210,000. 

The least expensive condo was a 2 bedroom with 944 square feet that sold for over list price ($124,900) at $133,000 ($141/square foot).  The buyer put down 20%, so I am guessing that he is an investor who will rent it out.  With total payments (PITI+HOA) of less than $950/month, that investor should have a positive cash flow of $150 – $200 each month.  

The most expensive condo sold also happened to be the only condo that was not distressed.  It had 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and a 2 car garage and sold for $345,000 ($252/square foot) after 75 days and a 10% price reduction.  I found it interesting that it only took 10 days at the corrected price to attract the final buyer!

 *The median is the price where 1/2 of the homes sold for more, and the other half sold for less.

Property Tax Scams!

Yesterday I found in my mailbox an official looking letter from “Property Tax Assessment Adjusters, LLC”. In addition to a lot of legalese type verbage, it said:

IMPORTANT : Upon a preliminary check your assessed value appears to be higher than your current market value. You may obtain property tax relief, even if you have received a reduction for a previous tax year.

For a fee of only $93, they will “advocate as my agent for the purposes of filing an application, answering all questions pertinent to the inquiry, attending a hearing, and accepting a modified assessment through the Assessor or the Assessment Appeals Board.”

Our former Governor, and current Attorney General, Jerry Brown, warned today that many of these companies are complete scams and will only take your money and disappear while you patiently wait for your tax adjustment.

This is something that most homeowners can do for themselves, by contacting their county’s assessor’s office and asking about it. There are a few forms to fill out, and it helps if your local real estate agent can provide a list of the current comps (call me if you are in Orange County!), but the proceedure is very simple and shouldn’t cost you more than the price of a stamp!

The Orange County Tax Assessor’s website has a good explanation of the process, and forms available to download.



 Search ALL the homes for sale in the Southern California MLS  (there must be at least one that you like!)

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Thanks for visiting!

Vicki Lloyd

Lake Forest Real Estate Sales Report December 2008

Home sales in Lake Forest, California, slowed down a bit in December compared to the prior few months, but still finished 79% ahead of the miserable number (29 closings) from December 2007.  The 52 closings were split exactly down the middle with 26 each of condos and single family homes. 

Condo sales ranged in price from $102,900 to $355,000, with an average of $198,965 at $194/sqft.  In 2007, sales of condos totaled 7, representing less than 25% of the total, but the average price was $294,628 @ $292/square foot!  At that time, 5 out of the 7 units were bank-owned, one was a short sale and there was only one traditional sale.  Comparing $/sq foot, condos have fallen about 34% in the last 12 months! 

Single family homes in December 2008 ranged from a low of $310,000 to a high of $975,000 with an average sale price of $481,611 at $239/square foot.  Compared to 2007, our average sale price ranged from $449,900 to $905,000, with an average sale price of $605,600 at $301.51/square foot.   Comparing $/sq foot, the SFRs have now declined a bit over 20% in one year.

Happy New Year 2009!

I can tell already that this will be a good better year for Southern California real estate.    To start off, it didn’t rain on our parade (Rose Parade) on New Year’s day, and our University of Southern California (my school) Trojans won their Rose Bowl game under sunny blue skies!  I think this is always a good start for the year, and like to think that all the people living in cold places will suddenly decide to move to California!

 Sunny Southern California!

I’m still gathering all the statistics from 2008, and will be posting my final analysis along with my predictions for 2009 in the next few days.  I already know there were more total sales in 2008 than in 2007, but we were still under the numbers for an “average year.” 

I just updated my “Vic’s Picks” with the better valued foreclosed homes available today, so if you are looking for a bargain, start there.  Almost all of the properties on the list are offered at less than 60% of their last sale value! 

If you don’t like any of the foreclosures  You can Search ALL the homes for sale in the Southern California MLS  (there must be at least one that you like!)

Don’t miss the next exciting update to this blog – click on the envelope to be notified by email!  )

 Click here to receive updates by email

Thanks for visiting!

Vicki Lloyd

Year End Report Card

A year ago today, I posted my predictions for the Orange County real estate market in 2008.  Today, I can look back and see that I got some right, and some wrong.  (Isn’t that how it always is?)Report Card

Some things I got right :

The volume increased, (but not as much as I hoped.)  As of today, there have been 24,237 closings in the MLS since 1/1/2008 in Orange County.  It is about 20% above the 2007 volume of 20,000, but I had predicted it to come out between 25,000 and 30,000.  Since there may be some more closings tomorrow, and many of the recently closed sales won’t get reported until the listing agent remembers to update the MLS, it is still possible to hit my “25,000” mark, but it won’t go much higher than that.  I’ll admit that I was  optimistic.

Prices decreased – even more and faster than I thought they would!  The median price for a single family resale home now stands at $430,000 (off 34.4% from November 2007) and the median for a condo is $260,500 (off 38%).  See the DQ News Chart

There were a lot of foreclosures, and there will be more to come.  The big bailout, and help for homeowners has been a bust.  Very few delinquent borrowers have been able to modify their loans and keep their homes.  The foreclosures have slowed, but that is probably only due to the new California law that lenders have to document that they have worked with the borrowers prior to foreclosing.  There will probably be a big flood of new foreclosures that will hit the market around March.

A lot of real estate agents have left the business.  Final numbers won’t be available until late January, but I know many agents who have found other jobs and will not be renewing their local Association of Realtor®s  memberships.

The Real Estate Industry has become more “transparent.”   Let’s face it – there are too many places for consumers to do their research and credibility means a lot!   If you aren’t honest and open with your advice and opinions, buyers and sellers  will find someone else who will be.  

Nobody is going to buy a house simply because they see an ad that says “Now is a good time to buy or sell!”  DUH!   Actually, I have gritted my teeth recently when I saw a full page newspaper ad that declared “Work with a Realtor® because they know your market!”  The truth is, some do and many don’t!  To become a Realtor®, you need to have a license and pay dues of $115 per year.  You also agree to abide by the Code of Ethics, but there is no required education or additional testing to maintain your membership.  I am a dues paying member of the National Association of Realtors, and I abide by the Code of Ethics and enjoy some benefits like access to research reports, and publications, but membership alone does not give me any knowledge or authority, and I hate that they waste my dues paying for ads like that!  ( End of rant.)

The parts I got wrong: 

The mortgage market has still not settled down completely.  The FHA loans have made a big come-back, after being close-to-obsolete in California for the last few years, but they have also tightened up on their qualifications for many borrowers, and won’t approve a loan for a property that has changed ownership in the last 90 days.  This puts investors in a riskier position if they want to buy a foreclosure, fix it and put it right back on the market.  Loans of over $417,000 are difficult to approve, and the interest rates are substantially higher.  This is causing problems for buyers (with good credit and documented income)  to buy homes in the higher price ranges.

The lenders are pricing their inventory to get rid of it.  I never would have guessed that they would take this agressive approach.  I’ve been seeing REO properties come on the market at 10% below the most recent comps.  This has created a frenzy for buyers who can’t resist what appears to be a real bargain.  Multiple offers have become the norm for many of the REOs, and buyers have been bidding them up to an average of 102% above original list price.  The REOs and short sales, especially at the lower end of the price ranges, have made up 42% of all sales for 2008.

Overall, my predictions weren’t too far off, so I’ll give myself a B+ for getting close.   In the next few days, I will make my new predictions for 2009 and this time I will be more specific and try to get closer to actuals.

Best Deals on Bank Owned Homes

Foreclosure sign

The bank-owned (REO) homes in South Orange County are still looking like the best values available.  I picked out a list of about 15 that are seriously discounted below their last sale price. 

I am planning to resume posting my “Vic ‘s Picks” on a more regular basis – probably once per week.   This week, the list features homes in Coto de Caza, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente and Tustin.  These are all bank-owned and offered for somewhere between $200K and $800K below the last market sale price! 

If you would like to see the actual location on these, click on the little airplane, on the right side of the listing sheet, and it will give you an aerial view of the property.  Some REO agents provide very few photos, so this can help guess what the home may look like.  I’ve also noticed that several of them like to include shots of the bathrooms with the toilet seat up (one is even sideways!)   

Open toilet!

If you have any interest in seeing any of these, please give me a call at (949) 457-0281, and we can go check them out together!

You can Search ALL the homes for sale in the Southern California MLS  (there must be at least one that you like!)

Don’t miss the next exciting update to this blog – click on the envelope to be notified by email!  🙂

 Click here to receive updates by email

Thanks for visiting!