Home Sales and Prices Up, Outlook Promising

for sale signTwo new reports identify encouraging trends in local housing this month along with several surprising jobs and demographics trends in Orange County over decades.

Home sales in Orange County jumped 23.1 percent from May in 2011.

Prices also climbed, although much more modestly.

The median home price was $435,000 last month, up 2.4 percent from $425,000 in May 2011 In Orange County, 3,279 homes were sold in May compared to 2,664 the year before. The latest housing figures combine with a new report by UCI researchers that idenities a number of positive and surprising trends in factors that affect Orange County’s Quality of life.

“The market is being slowly nursed back to health by low-interest rates, a modestly improved economy and, we suspect, a widening sense that the housing sector is at or near bottom,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

“There’s still plenty of 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.”

A total of 22,192 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in May, according to DataQuick. That was up 15.1 percent from 19,284 in April, and up 20.6 percent from 18,394 in May 2011.

The median price for a Southern California home was $295,000 last month, up 1.7 percent from $290,000 in April and up 5.4 percent from $280,000 in May 2011.

A Southern California Regional Progress Report released today by researchers at the University of California, Irvine examines the juxtaposition of jobs, housing, commute times and demographic sin Orange County along with their quality of life impacts. In multiple findings, Seal Beach fared well compared to the regional average.

“This inaugural study provides a wealth of findings on the area’s changing landscape – findings that constitute crucial 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,” Valerie Jenness, dean of UCI’s School of Social Ecology said in a written statement.

Among the findings release by UCI:

  • Many of the lowest foreclosure rates are found in wealthy Orange County communities. The hardest-hit Orange County clusters in 2008 and 2009 were Anaheim, Rancho Santa Margarita and Santa Ana. The Seal Beach cluster was the only one in Orange County below the regional average for foreclosures between 1995 and 2010.
  • Many of the areas with the least overcrowded housing are in suburban locales, including Mission Viejo, Seal Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes and Agoura Hills. In Orange County, only the Santa Ana cluster had significant overcrowding, with more than 30 percent of its housing units qualifying as such in 2007.
  • Contrary to some perceptions, growth in immigration is associated with more stable home values, lower joblessness and less crime in most areas of Southern California.
  • Those clusters in which commute times were shorter tended to be rich in jobs and available housing – a sign that mixed-use neighborhoods are more convenient for
  • residents. The Irvine cluster, a relatively jobs-rich area, had the lowest average commute time in the county (23 minutes). In all, seven of the 15 Orange County clusters saw commute-time decreases from 2000 to 2007.
  • Southern California’s ethnic makeup has changed radically over the past five decades, with the percentage of whites slowly decreasing, African Americans becoming concentrated within fewer communities, and Latino and Asian populations growing significantly.
  • The foreclosure crisis has begun to abate but has had a sizeable impact on home values. Hardest hit were residents of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Foreclosure rates also correlated strongly to falling home values throughout the region. A 1 percent increase in neighborhood foreclosures reduced home sale prices by 5.9 percent the following month.
  • Home ownership corresponds to lower crime rates. Conversely, a higher number of vacant units equates to higher crime rates.
  • Southern California air quality has improved dramatically during the past three decades, despite the increasing population.

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