Correction: This article was corrected on Oct. 14 2017 at 2:40 p.m. Previously it was reported that the Center for Demographic estimated 3.5 billion people will reside in Orange County by 2040. The actual estimate is 3.5 million people.
Orange County may be known for its weather and beaches, but its expensive real estate stains an otherwise pristine impression from outside the bubble.
Real estate prices continue to rise alongside population spikes in Orange County.
As of January 2017, Orange County’s population was nearly 3.2 million, according to a census conducted by Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Demographic Research.
There are over one million homes in Orange County. That’s a 3-1 person to house ratio.
The same census totalled the population in Fullerton at over 142,000, making it the fifth-largest city in Orange County.
The area is so expensive because it’s so populated, said Lingxiao Li, assistant professor of finance at CSUF.
“If you compare different regions within the United States, California is much more expensive than other states,” Li said. “It’s a more active place.”
The median price for a home in Orange County is $789,000 as of August 2017, according to the California Association of Realtors. In August 2016, the median price was $40,000 less.
CSUF’s Center for Demographic Research released data showing that, as of June 2017, Orange County’s property value was over $531 billion.
Rising property values coupled with a demand higher than the supply indicate the housing market in Orange County will only become more expensive in the coming years.
As of 2016, the median home price for the United States was $235,000, said CSUF student and vice president of CSUF’s Real Estate Association Steve Haddadin.
According to housing estimates by Zillow, an online real estate marketplace, the median home price in Fullerton was $648,000 as of August 2017.
“For any asset, the price is determined by the supply and demand,” Li said. “When the demand is much higher than the supply, you see high prices compared to other locations where you have oversupply.”
California’s population continues to grow. The CSUF Center for Demographic Research estimates 3.5 million people will reside in Orange County by July 2040, compared to almost 3.2 billion today.
The speed at which a property in Orange County sells illustrates the area’s supply and demand problems.
As of August 2017, the average time a house spent on the market in Orange County was 22 days, according to the California Association of Realtors. By comparison, the average time a house spends on the market in the U.S. is 28 days, according to the National Association of Realtors.
“The rent is really expensive in this area as well. I think the medium rent in Fullerton is about $2,200,” Li said. “It’s more expensive than some urban areas in Los Angeles.”
When surveying 13 complexes offering one-bedroom apartments within a 10-minute walk of CSUF, the average price for an apartment was $1,522 per month. Only five of the 13 had studio apartments, which had an average price of $1,260 per month.
All but two of the 13 complexes offered two-bedroom apartments, which cost an average of $1,915 per month.
In 2015, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Department, national average rent was $928.
“I think living right next to CSUF is really, really expensive, just because of how easy it is to get from your apartment to school,” said junior business major Shaun Igualdo.
Igualdo learned in his economics class how Orange County’s growing businesses affect the housing market.
“A lot of young people are here,” Igualdo said. “All the businesses are moving here because of the younger generation, and because of that, it’s pulling in more demand for housing.”
Igualdo has three roommates in his two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. It takes him two minutes to walk to campus.
“It’s worth it to me,” Igualdo said. “I think the time for you to wake up earlier to find parking, it’s not worth the time. That’s time I (could) use to relax, study or eat.”
Many of Igualdo’s friends also live in apartments with multiple roommates.
“Right now, I know of a few of my friends who are currently staying at UCE (University Crossings East). There’s like four of them in one apartment,” Igualdo said. “For four people, that’s not a lot of space.”
Graduate student Heather Lynch said she thinks most of the apartments around CSUF are too pricey to be worth the effort and moved to Lake Forest to find affordable housing.
“I think the cheapest place I ever found was $1,300 for a studio apartment and that was probably a mile away from Cal State Fullerton,” Lynch said. “It was two other girls looking for a third to be able to split the rent.”
For Igualdo, Orange County might soon become too expensive for him to purchase a home.
“I do see myself owning a house, but not in Orange County,” Igualdo said. “With rates of apartments this high, what would it be for housing? I think it’s just too expensive.”