Orange County’s housing bubble, 10 years later – Orange County Register

I’m not sure anyone popped any bubbly to remember the 10th anniversary of one particular peak of the housing bubble.

In June 2007, Orange County median home selling price hit $645,000 — a high point near the end of that era’s crazy, risky lending and homebuying insanity. In less than two years, a violent downturn slashed the typical local home’s value almost in half.

Last year, that old peak was topped and this year’s continued run-up pushed the median to $695,000 in June, an 8 percent rise above the previous record set 10 years ago.

But other than this historic milestone, does beating the old pinnacle mean the market has fully recovered? Or ominously speaking, is it a signal that pricing once again has suspect fundamentals?

My review of Orange County housing conditions now and a decade ago from several data sources — CoreLogic, ReportsOnHousing, California Association of Realtors, National Association of Home Builders, PropertyRadar, state employment records and Freddie Mac — shows far different market conditions today vs. 2007.

Yes, the countywide median home price is $50,000 higher than the previous peak. But not every benchmark, market niche or neighborhood has enjoyed the same rebound. And the mere fact that a widely watched broad metric of pricing has exceeded the peak of 2007 doesn’t signal a similar fate for property owners in this cycle.

So 10 years later, here are a dozen reasons why local housing isn’t as crazy today as it was then.

1. Geography: At the neighborhood level, prices in June were above June 2007 levels in only 55 of 83 Orange County ZIP codes. That’s  no full recovery in roughly one-third of the market. Communities still below June 2007 include a diverse slice of Orange County: parts of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Lake Forest, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Orange/Villa Park, San Clemente, Santa Ana and Seal Beach.

2. House size: Smaller, existing homes also have yet to fully recover. A decade later, the median selling price of homes less than 1,000 square feet is off 3 percent from June 2007. Houses from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet? Off 1 percent. Bigger house prices are back above June 2007, with the mid-range property — 1,500-to-2,000 square feet — leading the way with a 5 percent gain.

3. Cheaper homes: While the median of 2007 and of this year are relatively the same, the composition of what buyers paid is not. Remember, the median…

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