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No sign of slowing home sales yet

Realtors expect 2014 to be a good year

Posted: December 18, 2013 6:14 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2013 6:14 p.m.

While home sales typically drop around the holidays, Santa Clarita Valley home sales in November were on par with October sales, and the median sales price rose once again.

Only four fewer homes sold in November compared to October; and the number of homes that sold last month was nearly triple the number sold one year ago, according to data released Wednesday by the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

Investors began pulling out of the market a few months ago, allowing conventional buyers to get back into the market and not get outbid on their offers, said Bob Khalsa, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the association.

“The number of conventional buyers began replacing investors, and sales were now only limited by inventory and home pricing,” Khalsa said. “Thus, November did not see a drop, as usually occurs.”

Median sales prices were $405,000 last month — up from $401,000 the month before. Prices for single-family homes rose nearly the same amount, and in one month condominium sale prices jumped $15,000 to $295,000.

“Keep in mind that higher prices benefit current owners who are underwater, who have a loan larger than the current resale value of their property,” Khalsa said. “With each price increase, more and more owners return to positive equity.”

In another sign that the market is stabilizing, standard sales now account for nearly 81 percent of all sales, the association reported. One year ago, only 36.5 percent of all home sales were standard — those involving owners with equity in their homes.

The ongoing rise in sales — and sales prices — in the SCV occurred despite the stubbornly low number of homes listed for sale. Homes sales continue to thrive even though the inventory of homes only represents a two-month supply.

California had a 3.6 monthly supply of unsold homes in November, according to the California Association of Realtors.

A normal supply in a healthy market should be around six months — the point at which neither buyers nor sellers have an advantage.

During the new year ahead, inventory will continue to factor into home sales, said Kathy Salisbury with Triple D Realty.

“There are plenty of buyers out there, but not enough inventory to choose from,” she said.

“We are going to see a substantial jump in real estate listings entering the local markets in the Santa Clarita Valley cities during the first quarter of 2014,” forecast Connor MacIvor with RE/MAX.

That inventory boost will come from homeowners when they find out they have equity in their current homes, said Pam Ingram with RE/MAX.

The majority of homeowners thinking about selling their homes, however, are concerned with interest rates climbing and mortgages becoming more expensive to obtain next year, MacIvor said.

On the other hand, Realtors say that while interest rates should rise some in 2014, overall they believe that rates will be fairly stable next year.

If Janet Yellen is confirmed by the Senate as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board, she’ll be more focused on unemployment than inflation, Ingram said.

“I believe we are going to see a good, steady market in 2014,” she said.



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