Orange County Real Estate Blog

Is it a good time to buy in Southern California?

September 23rd, 2015 by Joe Van Fossen

“Is it a good time to buy?” is one of the most often asked questions we get as a real estate professionals.  Many cynics would assume the answer is always “yes” where real estate agents are concerned. However, I see this as a more personal question than a general one.

If your goal is to time the market, good luck with that. There are plenty of people who have predicted upturns and downswings, but the reality is nobody can honestly or accurately predict where we are at in any given real estate cycle. What we can do, as professionals in the field, is provide our clients with accurate housing market data and discuss current trends.

Now getting back to the “personal” part of that question. What I mean by that is, whether or not it’s a good time to buy is largely up to the individual(s) asking. The best way for me to answer this question is to pose the following questions to the inquirer:

  1. Can you comfortably afford to buy?
  2. Do you have money saved for a down payment and closing costs?
  3. Do you plan on living in the home for many years (7-10+)?
  4. Does the idea of owning rather than renting appeal to you?
  5. Are you comfortable taking on the responsibilities of being a homeowner? (taxes, maintenance, etc)

Those are among the most important questions, but there are plenty of other considerations too, including creditworthiness. A great way to figure out how much you can afford is to get in touch with a lender. If you’re not ready for that kind of commitment there are plenty of great online resources like my affordability calculator.

If your answers to all of the previous questions were “yes”, then I would say it’s probably a great time to buy in Southern California.

The real reason you’re probably reading this article in the first place, though, is for the general answer. Not wanting to disappoint the cynics, I have to say the answer is probably yes again. Let me back this up with some data:

  1. As of this writing, 30-year fixed rate mortgages are back below 4%
  2. The local rental market is ridiculously competitive and rates are rising

Now for the negatives:

  1. Home prices are up and affordability is down across much of Southern California
  2. Inventory is tight

Back in 2012 our local real estate market hit rock bottom. Then later that year, the low prices coupled with record low interest rates helped usher in a new real estate boom. The competition was rough and buyers were having to write up several offers before they could even secure a property. Prices went up so fast that we’ve had armchair economists shouting “bubble!” since 2013. While the momentum has waned, prices continue to rise across the Southland.

A common refrain is “prices have risen well above 2006 levels”, referencing the previous housing market peak. While that is true in many areas of So Cal, one should keep in mind that $500,000 in 2006 is $591,062 in 2015 when adjusted for inflation. While the recent uptrend in home prices seemed much faster than we are accustomed to, the reality is that it’s not unusual for home prices to rise significantly over time.

To make a long story short (TLNR), yes I believe it is a good time to buy real estate in Southern California.

Luxury Living in Irvine – La Vita at Orchard Hills

September 18th, 2015 by Joe Van Fossen

As a real estate agent working in Irvine, the San Gabriel Valley, and throughout Orange County and surrounding areas, I often have the pleasure of working with out of state and international buyers. Southern California has always been a popular destination for its diverse climate and numerous attractions. We also have a great diversity of residential property, whether you’re looking for a Victorian home in Santa Ana, 20th century Spanish revival in Fullerton, mid-century modern in Orange, or master planned luxury in Irvine; OC has it all and more.


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La Vita – Photo by Brookfield Homes

There’s a misconception that Realtors only work with resale properties or “used homes,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. New construction can be highly desirable to certain buyers and I’m always keeping an eye on what developers are doing across Southern California. Today I’m focusing on one of my favorite newer luxury developments in Irvine, La Vita at The Groves in Orchard Hills.

Orchard Hills is located just north of Northwood Point and is home to working avocado groves, the Orchard Hills Village Center, and nationally recognized Northwood High School. The Groves is a new luxury gated community featuring resort-like amenities, lush parks, and homes from premiere builders starting from the mid $1,000,000s. La Vita is a development by Brookfield homes with a focus on blending indoor and outdoor living with exquisite luxury.

Homes at La Vita will be ready for move-in by the year’s end. They feature floor plans ranging from 3400-4000 square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, and 5-6 bathrooms. They all feature 2-car garages with extra storage space and private 2-4 car driveways.

If you’re interested in La Vita, The Groves, or any new construction home in Orange County, I’d be happy to give you some more information or set up some viewings. Call (714) 584-7154 or email me at

Chino Update

July 23rd, 2015 by Joe Van Fossen

My listing at 4539 Carmen St is in escrow and is moving close to closing! However, for those still looking to get into this great Chino neighborhood I have a brand new listing…

13169 Stallion Ave $500,000



This one is a 4-bed, 2.5-bath pool home on a large lot, with a highly upgraded backyard. This is a perfect home for a family looking to enjoy indoor/outdoor, California living. The large covered patio features a built-in outdoor kitchen, complete with BBQ, fridge, and sink. There’s also a basketball court and backyard rec room. The inside features a large, eat-in kitchen with island, indoor laundry room, lots of storage, ample sized rooms and walk in closets. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss.

Orange County Real Estate Stats – June 2015

June 8th, 2015 by Joe Van Fossen

Here are some interesting Orange County Real Estate stats from my friend Ed Hlavac at Summit Funding:

Did you know that April 2015 represented the second fastest selling month since April 2006? Did you also know that Orange County is the healthiest market in Southern California? We are within 7% from our high water mark for home prices that were established in August 2007. With fewer distressed properties (3%) and low unemployment (4.4%), we are positioned for a great summer selling season.
Below is a recap of our current Orange County Real Estate Marketplace, effective 6/8/2015 versus one year ago.

Resale Homes +3.1%, Resale Condos +1.0% and New Home Sales +8.5%
All totaled, OC home values are up 1.7% versus last year

Sales Volume
Resale Homes +11.6%, Resale Condos 18.3% and New Home Sales -24.7%
All totaled, OC sales volume is up 9.6% versus last year

Median Home Price is $600,000 versus $590,000 a year ago
Sales Volume is 3,458 versus 3,155 a year ago
Average Home Payment is $2,773.95 versus $2,718.47 a year ago
Inventory of homes for sale, 6,104 versus 5,693 just one month ago
Medium price per square feet, $375, 3.9% higher versus last year
Average Days on Market 2.0 months (60 days) it’s a Seller’s Market!
$1m+ homes now represent 34.6% of all OC home listings
Hottest home price market: $250 to $500k, average 34 DOM
Warm home price market: $500 to $750k, average 39 DOM
Coolest home price market: $4m and up, 240 DOM
Santa Ana has the highest rent versus income in OC (48%)
Aliso Viejo has the lowest rent versus income in OC (31.7%)
California housings costs are 2 ½ times higher than the national average
California is the world’s 7th largest economy, mostly due to real estate
California home ownership is 48th out among all 50 states…

Need a lender? You can reach Ed at or (714)619-5604.

If you need a real estate agent in Orange County, you can reach me at or (714)584-7154

JUST REDUCED! Chino homes for sale – 4539 Carmen St

May 14th, 2015 by Joe Van Fossen

I just wanted to blast out a quick update for home buyers looking in Chino. My clients’ beautiful listing just had a major price reduction to $589,000 and it’s priced to sell quickly. Get in touch to make an appointment to see it before it’s gone!

Chino homes for sale – 4539 Carmen St

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