Appraisers agree: Orange County home-price gains are cooling

by in News

There’s more evidence home appreciation is cooling: Orange County home-price gains are running roughly one-third below their six-year average, by one novel valuation yardstick.

Home values were appreciating at an annual rate of 4.1% in April, according to the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California. Since 1943, the group has tracked local home-value movements by having appraisers twice yearly re-evaluate a set of 308 single-family homes across seven Southern California counties to gauge pricing patterns. The county ranked No. 5 among the region’s seven counties for price performance, by this math.

The council’s latest appraiser index for Orange County County showed appreciation below the 6.6% average since April 2013 — that’s 38% lower. Gains are also below 6.5% of six months earlier and less than 5% of a year ago.

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While the council uses a small sample, the consistency of the targeted homes eliminates one flaw in other transaction-based valuation benchmarks: the changing mix of homes selling. And don’t forget appraiser opinions matter. They can swing a market because their valuations are a key part of the mortgage-making process.

The council’s index for seven Southern California counties showed a cooling, too: Homes appreciated at an annual rate of 5.3% in April vs. an 8% average since April 2013; 5.3% six months ago; and 6.4% a year ago.