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Sales of homes under $1 million drop countywide

Sales of relatively inexpensive homes in Orange County dropped abruptly in September, a local economist told the audience Friday at an economic forecast in Newport Beach.

Selma Hepp, chief economist and vice president of business intelligence for Pacific Union International real estate brokerage, said countywide sales in the sub-$1 million range dropped to about 1,600 transactions, despite a significant boost in inventory. She characterized that as “a dive” but didn’t know why.

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Home sales in the under-$1 million range have dipped across California, but the state hasn’t seen the same overall increase in number of homes for sale that Orange County has — about a 40% increase over the last year in that price range, Hepp said.

The median Orange County home price — where half were lower and half were higher — was within that range, sitting at $739,000 as of June. (For comparison, the median price was $2 million in Newport, according to Zillow.)

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But it could be an anomaly, she told the crowd at the 2019 look-ahead sponsored by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. Despite the drop, home sales haven’t deviated from the historical trend.

And Orange County does have a bright spot in its preference for new-built homes, which sell better here than elsewhere in the state, she said.

She estimated about 5,000 to 5,300 new homes selling per year in the county through 2021.

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