The Mission Viejo real estate market, a generally affluent sector of the larger Orange County housing market, saw extremely low housing prices, fewer foreclosures, and differing statistics on the quantity of properties sold in the last month of 2010. According to figures provided by the Orange County Register and MDA DataQuick, the median sales price for the entirety of Orange County declined to $410,000 in December 2010. This represents a 5.7% decrease from both month-ago and year-ago levels, and pushed the median price of Orange County properties to their lowest level since May 2009. The median sales price of resale homes in particular is at its lowest level since April 2009, while the median price for new homes is at its lowest level since February 2010. Despite this decline in median price, the quantity of homes sold in Orange County declined by more than five percent year-over-year – marking the sixth consecutive year-over-year decline in sales quantity. Over the entirety of 2010, there were 30,737 residential properties sold throughout Orange County, marking a decrease of about one percent from 2009’s sales levels. In general, new homes fared slightly better than resale properties, although their rally was less impressive when compared to 2008 levels.
The low median price among Mission Viejo and other Orange County properties can be better understood in the context of the region’s foreclosure activity. Distressed properties, which are generally less expensive than “normal” homes or condominiums, accounted for more than a third of the residential transactions in December 2010. One local expert was interviewed by the Orange County Register and noted that there is potential for marginal improvement in 2011, although foreclosures will likely continue to have a negative influence on the regional market for some time to come. There are more than six thousand bank-owned properties in Orange County, along with thousands more delinquent or defaulted mortgages and nearly ten thousand slated for a foreclosure auction or trustee sale. The situation is unlikely to drastically improve until the job market improves, demand for properties rises, and lenders are more willing to extend credit.