Business & Economy

Orange County housing supply plummets to "unheard of" low

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The peak of the housing bubble hit around 2005. That’s when Time Magazine ran a cover story that said: “Why We’re Gaga Over Real Estate.”

Back in those heady days, there were nearly 5,000 homes on the market in Orange County.
There are about a thousand fewer homes on the market today, according to Steven Thomas, who writes the Orange County Housing Report.

“I didn’t think we were going to go below the lows achieved in March 2005,” said Thomas. “That was a very difficult market to navigate in, and we are tremendously lower than that.”

Thomas says housing inventory has been plummeting since June of last year. He thought the slide would stop, but it’s only sped up.
And it’s not just the coastal areas, it’s everywhere in Orange County, for homes priced below $750,000.

In the past two weeks alone, inventory has dropped another seven percent.

“That’s absolutely unheard of,” said Thomas. “We’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point.”

Maria Elena Banks, President of the Orange County Association of Realtors, has been selling houses for decades, and she’s never seen this level of supply.

“This is the lowest I’ve seen, and I’ve been around since ’76,” said Banks.

She says what makes today so different than the housing boom days is that buyers aren’t willing to pay much of a premium over what a house is worth.
Banks is seeing sellers who think they can ask a lot, but buyers aren’t biting.

“People are still smart, so even though there’s low supply, people aren’t going to be paying what the houses were back in 2005-2006, when people would pay anything for a house,” said Banks.

Even though prices have been rising, they’re still much lower than they were during the boom.
And that’s a big factor contributing to the lack of housing on the market; many homeowners are waiting to sell, hoping if they wait long enough, they won’t have to eat a big loss.