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New home sales in SCV double

Realtors point to combination of low interest, prices and tax incentives

Posted: May 18, 2009 10:07 p.m.
Updated: May 19, 2009 9:00 a.m.
New home sales were up in Santa Clarita Valley in March, a sign that the housing market may be on the rebound.

Twenty-six new homes sold in March, up from 12 in February, according to information provided by the Building Industry Association. The list does not differentiate between sales of single-family homes and condominiums.

That number still falls short of the 2008 total, however, when the valley saw 35 new home sales in March.

Anecdotally, sales for April continued this year's upward trend, said Holly Schroeder, chief executive officer of the BIA's Los Angeles and Ventura County chapter.

She said sales have been fueled by a combination of low interest rates and lower prices.

Additionally, new home buyers stand to save a bundle of cash if they qualify for a $10,000 state tax credit and/or an $8,000 federal tax credit.

To qualify, buyers must purchase a new home, can not have owned a new home in the last three years, must have an individual annual income of $75,000 or less and must live in the home for at least three years.

"People realize this is a very good time to make a purchase," Schroeder said.

Average new-home prices have continued to drop over the last year, according to the BIA.

The average price for a home in the valley was $424,000 last March, down from $505,000 in February, and a 21.9 percent drop from $517,000 price tag in March 2008.

Median prices also dropped this year. The median price in March was $437,000 - a 5.1 percent drop from $460,450 in February, according to the BIA. Last March's median price is still higher than that of 2008, which was $426,000.

This spring's drop in price may be due in part to more modest purchases, Schroeder said.

The average square footage of a home sold in February was 2,582, versus 2,163 square-feet in March.

For new-home sales last March, Santa Clarita Valley had the second-largest jump from February in Los Angeles County, according to the BIA. San Fernando Valley saw 36 new-home sales in March versus nine in February.

In general, the housing market in Santa Clarita Valley is seeing continued interest and low inventory, said Linda Slocum, a Realtor with Re/Max of Valencia.

She said prices continue to fall by small increments. She does not expect a return any time soon to the soaring price tags of 2006, when the median price was more than $600,000.

Slocum echoed Schroeder and said home buyers do seem to be making more conservative purchases.

"People overall aren't being as extravagant as they were, what with the ‘McMansions,'" she said.


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