According to research conducted by Steve Thomas at Reports On Housing, the active inventory for Orange County homes is falling dramatically for both standard sales and distressed properties.

Typically, homes come on the market faster than they go into escrow; thus, the active inventory increases, but that hasn’t been the case in 2012. The current active listing inventory shed 226 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 7,597, which is 3,081 fewer than last year. The media hasn’t quite caught up to reporting on all of the activity; so, for the most part, homeowners have been shielded from the fact that the market is extremely hot.

The decrease in the availability of distressed homes is a particularly big surprise to many homebuyers who have been reading for months about foreclosure properties and short sales, but as Thomas points out, “The distressed inventory continues to drop like a rock.”

With less inventory and increased demand, the expected market time for Orange County has dropped to a mere 2.1 months. That is the lowest level in 78 months, back in August 2005. This is completely unprecedented for this time of year.

So far in 2012, Orange County’s active distressed inventory, both short sales and foreclosures, has dropped by 644 homes, or 20%, in just six weeks. Currently, distressed inventory represents 33% of the active inventory, and foreclosures are the hottest segment of the current market.

Just about every buyer wants to purchase a foreclosure, yet there are only 489 in all of Orange County, just 6% of the total inventory. In the past two weeks, the foreclosure inventory dropped by 57 homes and now totals 489, the lowest level since May 2010. With so few homes on the market, short sales are being swept up almost as fast as they hit the market.