Mickey Mouse’s Hometown Leads the Recovery Boom

This morning while researching the latest housing market news, I migrated to the L.A. Times Business Section – a good barometer in my opinion for what’s on the horizon for the rest of our nation. The headline I encountered made no sense to me. It said something like “Santa Ana leads a Real Estate Boomlet.”

Huh? Was that a headline for November, 2008? Did I end up in the archives of my old hometown newspaper by mistake? Was I reading an article from the year 2005? I had to check the byline and date, so sure was I that my search picked up an archival feed from the year 2005.

But no. To my great surprise and elation, this story was published on November 18, 2008! It went on to describe how in this Orange County working-class community last month, there were 357 homes in escrow…”ten times the volume of a year ago”.

Now I understand that on a national basis, this amount of inventory makes no dent in any statistic that Washington maintains, that even if it was 3570 homes in escrow, nationally no one would notice. But what struck me was the fact that in this Southern California community where housing prices have fallen the furthest, the rebound is happening the fastest.

Let me underscore the point. In this community between the Costa Mesa and Garden Grove freeways, adjacent to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm, there are approximately 350,000 residents. A year ago, the stats for October 2007 showed a puny 36 homes in escrow for the month. That’s the definition of a housing slump if I’ve ever heard it. Yet today, exactly one year later, that number is up by 1000%.

Part of the reason is intuitively obvious. If you can grab today for $270,000 what two years ago was priced at and sold for over $500K, you’re going to see more buyers in a market, no doubt. As an investor, that kind of news to me is like the old “A” tickets at Disneyland…not much fun. But as a Real Estate Broker, it’s like getting a book full of “E” tickets, with unlimited rides on Space Mountain. Because as a Broker, I don’t care what the pricing of housing is, I only care that there is movement, activity, and interest.

If I still lived in Southern California today I’d be sure I had a presence in Orange County, because things are really starting to pop there right now…today!

But remember, as Southern California goes, so do the rest of the continental 48. So get ready, and hold on tight. The ride is just about to begin wherever you are as well!
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