Orange County Housing Market Hits $1.1M Price Point in 2024

April 24, 2024
Last updated:
April 26, 2024
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In this report: an update on the Orange County, California real estate market, where the median home price just hit $1.1 million in 2024.

During the summer of last year, the median home price in Orange County rose above the $1 million threshold for the first time ever. And now, at the start of spring 2024, home prices in Orange County have cleared the $1.1 million mark.

As usual, supply and demand are driving these recent housing market trends in the area. Orange County real estate home inventory levels have declined a bit over the past year, while home sales have increased. This makes the market more competitive while boosting prices at the same time.

Let’s take a closer look at the Orange County housing market, and how current conditions could affect how you get into this hot market in Southern California.

Orange County Median Home Price Hits $1.1 Million

According to the latest data from Zillow, the median home value for the Orange County, California housing market was nearly $1.1 million last month. Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data and other sources confirm this milestone.

The average home price in Orange County rose by around 10% over the past year, according to Zillow.

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) puts the median home price even higher. In a report published earlier today, C.A.R. reported that the median sale price for existing single-family homes in Orange County hit $1,350,000 last month.

That marked an increase of more than 16% from a year earlier.

These reports confirm something we already knew: the Orange County real estate market (and Southern California as a whole) is currently one of the hottest regional markets in the United States.

Low Inventory Continues to Challenge Buyers

Home prices across the Orange County housing market are currently rising at a faster pace than the national average, while smashing records along the way.

And there’s really no mystery why this is happening. The C.A.R. report mentioned above offered some revealing data about the lopsided supply-and-demand situation in O.C.

According to the California Association of Realtors, home sales in Orange County rose by a whopping 12.4% over the past year.

This surge in sales activity comes at a time when supply levels remain low. Last month, the Orange County real estate market had about a 2.5-month supply of homes for sale, according to C.A.R. data. That was down from 2.9 months a year earlier.

To put this inventory issue into perspective, a balanced market is characterized by a roughly 5- to 6-month supply of available homes. So, less than a 3-month supply is a far cry of where O.C. needs to be to reach a balanced market.

The bottom line here is that an already tight real estate market has become even more constrained, at a time when there are more purchases taking place. This imbalance puts upward pressure on home prices and makes the Orange County housing market more competitive for buyers.

Declining Mortgage Rates Incentivizing Home Buyers in Orange County

The continued decrease in mortgage rates had a lot to do with the trend in a higher share of homes sold in Orange County, in addition to general economic stability.

While mortgage rates remain relatively high compared to 2021, they continue on a decreasing trend. As of the week of March 20, 2024, the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is currently 6.74%. That’s a lot lower than the high of 7.74% that we saw in October 2023. So, this is good news for buyers when it comes to saving money in mortgages.

Homes Are Selling Fast, Often Above the List Price

O.C. home buyers who are planning to enter the market in 2024 should also be prepared for quick sales and potential bidding wars.

Last month, homes listed for sale across the county spent a median of just 20 days on the market before going under contract. That was down from a median of 35 days a year earlier.

In addition to selling quickly, many homes within the Orange County housing market are currently selling for more than the original listing price.

In February, 46% of homes sold in Orange County ended up selling for more than the list price. In comparison, the nationwide “sold above list” percentage was around 26% last month.

This reinforces a point made earlier. Like much of Southern California, the O.C. housing market is hotter than most other major metros across the U.S.

Given the current supply and demand situation, the Orange County real estate scene tends to favor sellers over buyers in 2024. These conditions could continue for the foreseeable future, so buyers should enter the market with the right mindset.

How Much Are Home Buying Costs in Orange County?

In addition to the purchase price and mortgage, there are other cots associated with buying a home in O.C.

Generally speaking, closing costs in Orange County range from 1% to 2% of the purchase price of the home, on average. These costs include a variety of services and fees, including the following:

  • Escrow fees
  • Appraisal fees
  • Home inspection fees
  • Lawyer fees
  • Title insurance fees
  • Transfer taxes
  • Survey fees

Tips for Buying a Home in Orange County in 2024

With a high level of competition and low inventory, the Orange County housing market presents some unique challenges for home buyers. But for every challenge there’s a solution, especially if you enter the market well-prepared.

Here are some proactive steps you can take to increase your chance for success:

  1. Work with an experienced agent. The Orange County real estate market is sprawling, crowded, and competitive. If this is your first time buying a home in Orange County or anywhere else, you’ll want to work with an experienced agent who can help you navigate the market and submit a strong offer.
  2. Make your purchase offer as strong as possible by using comparable sales data to determine your price. You might even want to consider limiting the number of contingencies you add to your contract, to make it more attractive to the seller. Just understand the risks of doing so.
  3. Get pre-approved for mortgage loan before you start house hunting. This will help you focus your search within a specific price range, while showing sellers that you are a serious buyer. Both of these things can help you achieve your objective.

If you’re planning to buy a home, having an understanding of the current Orange County housing market is key to a successful transaction. Be sure to partner with an experienced and local real estate agent and mortgage specialist to get the process started!

Need financing? Sammamish Mortgage now serves Orange County home buyers, as well as buyers all across the state of California. We offer flexible qualification criteria and some of the lowest rates you’ll find anywhere. Please contact us if you need a mortgage loan to buy a home in Orange County!

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