With the spring home buying season barely underway, Orange County has come out as a frontrunner in the hottest market race in Southern California. With price gains moderating, lending standards easing and more home owners putting their homes on the market, 2015 is shaping up to be the perfect storm for real estate and major economic boosts throughout Orange County.

According to Steven Thomas, a local housing analyst who tracks pending home sales, demand for Orange County has already exceeded 2014’s peak. Thomas reports that as of February 26, pending home sales in Orange County were already higher than April 2014, when the spring market finally reached its fever pitch.

“Demand has nearly doubled from the start of the year,” Thomas said in his Reports On Housing. “And we haven’t really sunk our teeth into the prime spring market.”

So what’s behind this trend that has local analysts buzzing? According to a recent report in the Orange County Register, conditions are primed to not only spur stronger home sales in 2015 but long-term growth and prosperity, making for a better environment for Orange County home owners for many years to come.

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Orange County Home Owners are Thriving

One of the most exciting factors is an improving economy that is helping Orange County home owners on all levels of the wealth spectrum to thrive. Increasing employment and wage growth have been particularly important stimulants of the economy. According to the Orange County Register unemployment fell in December to 4.4 percent. This is the lowest this value has been in six years and a significant decline from November’s 5 percent level.

In addition to more people working, there are more jobs out there. Orange County employers added 2.3 percent more jobs while state data showed California payroll increased by 2.1 percent.

Given the positive outlook for local breadwinners, consumers and even lenders are similarly upbeat as well. According to lending giant Fannie Mae’s January 2015 National Housing Survey, 48 percent of consumers polled reported they expect their personal finances to improve this year while 88 percent of lenders who originate mortgages are confident they’ll do more business this year. Market analysts are confident this is likely to translate over into more homes being bought in 2015.

“Consumers are as positive about their personal finances at the start of 2015 as they have been since we launched the National Housing Survey in 2010, and this optimism seems to be spilling over into housing market attitudes,” said Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Consumers are more optimistic about the environment both for buying and for selling a home today.”

With home buyers feeling good about their future, it’s now up to the Orange County housing market to respond. Inventory has continually been a point of contention but according to Thomas, limited homes for sale should not be as much of an issue this year. His report cites 5,433 homes listed as of late February, which is a 68 percent increase on the 3,237 homes listed two years ago.

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