The housing market hasn’t been this way in years

Orange County homebuyers -- seeing cheap mortgages and low prices -- went on a buying spree last month. DataQuick reported last Wednesday that 3,279 deals for Orange County properties were completed in May, up 23.1 percent from a year ago and the best May since 2006

Take a look at the pace on a month-to-month basis: A 12.3 percent sales increase from April was nearly double the average 6.4 percent advance in home purchases seen in this same April-to-May period since 1988. But it is shopping season: Residential sales have risen 19 times versus just six dips in this month-to-month period since 1988

And old was the top pick. Local homebuyers flocked to resale properties

In May, 2,142 single-family homes sold, an increase of 25.9 percent versus 2011, making it the best May since 2006. The local median price for a home was $495,000, off 1 percent in a year

Condo resales were hot, too: 947 sold, an increase of 24 percent versus 2011. Simply put, it was the best May for condos since 2006. The median price for condos was $279,000, up 5.3 percent in a year -- and the highest price since July

Sales gains were found in most areas of Orange County

Purchases increased in 66 of 83 Orange County ZIP codes last month versus May 2011. When looking at the four geographic regions in the county, gains were found across the map -- including a 35 percent gain in sales in beach-close ZIP codes versus a year ago

In terms of prices, the countywide median selling price for a home was $435,000 -- up 2.4 percent versus a year ago. That’s the first year-over-year price increase since November 2010. Note: The median selling price is still down, though, by 33 percent from its peak in 2007

Overall, developers' new home sales look soft -- down 4 percent versus last May. But big builder Irvine Co. says it has sold 525 new homes this year and has completely sold out four new communities in 2012

Tom Veal, VP for sales and marketing for Irvine Co. homebuilding efforts, said the company is finding homebuying and traffic at their projects at levels he has not seen since the good old days

Veal says the small supply of old homes for sale -- it's been cut in half in two years, by many counts -- has helped Irvine Co. efforts greatly. And he finds this recent surge in buying of resale homes highly encouraging

The supply of Orange County properties that are listed for sale is at a seven-year low as of June 7, according to an analysis by Steve Thomas of ReportsOnHousing

I’m still concerned that very soon, news of the incredibly hot real estate market is going to convince many sellers to jump in after waiting on the sidelines for quite some time, Thomas stated

Orange County wasn't the only county to experience a real estate rebirth

DataQuick said last month's total sales in six Southern California counties were up 21 percent compared to the previous year. The region's median sale home price reached a 20-month high at $295,000, an increase of 5.4 percent from May 2011.