With the holiday festivities behind us, Orange County's real estate scene is entering its unique winter phase. This season is typically marked by a stable inventory, a spike in buyer interest, and a notably brisk market tempo. 

When it comes to Canyon Crest, 2024 started with 3 new listings that all went under escrow in 15 days or less. There are currently just 2 active listings in our community - both have been on the market for over 3 months indicating that they are priced too high. 

🔍 Here's a closer look at the Canyon Crest market:

 

The Real Picture: Buyer Expectations vs. Market Trends

Prospective buyers typically approach the winter market anticipating a wide range of choices, reduced competition, and a more relaxed pace. Contrary to these expectations, the market from mid-January through mid-March becomes highly competitive with limited housing options and increased buyer activity.

Each year, starting in mid-January, Orange County's housing market gains momentum. Last year, for instance, the inventory of available homes began low and dipped even further by mid-March. Meanwhile, the demand for homes surged, resulting in a significant decrease in the Expected Market Time (EMT) from 81 days at the start of the period to just 42 days by spring.

Despite the dip in overall demand and closed sales, the market remained surprisingly active, with a rise in home values observed after a slump in the latter half of 2022. The landscape continued to favor sellers, with multiple offers becoming a norm, particularly in the more affordable housing segments.

A Retrospective View

When we look at the three years before the COVID-19 pandemic (2017-2019), the winter market showed a pattern of increasing inventory and demand. However, recent years have seen a shift, with inventory often decreasing, demand consistently rising, and EMT shortening.

In the winter months, especially November and December, fewer homes are listed, with a noticeable increase in January. Nonetheless, the current inventory is markedly lower than the pre-pandemic averages, primarily due to homeowners retaining their properties with low, fixed-rate mortgages. The present inventory level stands at a staggering 60% below the pre-COVID average.

The demand, while starting low, is projected to climb significantly by mid-March. The influx of new buyers is expected to surpass the number of new listings, even with the subdued market levels.

Recently, there has been a 6% uptick in active listings, yet it remains one of the lowest for this time of the year in over two decades. The luxury market, encompassing homes priced above $2 million, also experienced growth in both inventory and demand, albeit with a longer Expected Market Time compared to less expensive homes.

Orange County Housing Overview

A recent 6% increase in active listings, reaching 1,900 homes.
A 17% rise in demand, with 1,010 pending sales.
EMT shortened from 62 to 56 days recently.
Luxury homes represent a substantial portion of inventory but a smaller fraction of demand.
Minimal distressed properties in the market, indicative of a strong seller's market.
A 6% decrease in closed residential resales in December compared to the same period in 2022.

The winter real estate market in Orange County is proving to be dynamic and fast-paced. Sellers are finding themselves in a favorable position, while buyers must adapt to a competitive and swiftly evolving market. As the winter season unfolds, keeping an eye on these market trends will be crucial for anyone looking to navigate the Orange County real estate market successfully.