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SCV home sales on rebound

Median selling prices remain on decline, however.

Posted: April 24, 2008 6:32 p.m.
Updated: June 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Home and condominium sales in the Santa Clarita Valley were on the increase in March, despite a continuing overall slowdown in the market, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

The median selling price for a home and condominium remains on the decline, although the number of pending escrows has risen, according to the association's figures.

A total of 151 single-family homes closed escrow during March, up 31.3 percent from February when 115 homes sold, the association reported Tuesday.

However, March activity was down 42.1 percent when compared to a year ago, even as the association reports that home sales have been gaining momentum since hitting the record low of 99 transactions in January.

Similarly condo sales were up 45.9 percent as 54 condominiums closed escrow in March, the association reports.

In February, 37 condos sold.

Like homes, condo sales have been on a downward trend, but the association believes that the market has bottomed out since the record-low 38 sales posted in November.

March condo sales were down 52.2 percent from a year ago, but activity is on the increase when compared on a month-to-month basis.

"Has the worst passed? Perhaps, although it will still take many months to work out the impacts that foreclosures have on the market," said Doreen Chastain-Shine, president of the association's Santa Clarita Valley Division. "But buyers are out looking at properties with some of them making offers and other still wondering if now is the time to act."

The association reports that pending escrows, which they use as a measure of future resale activity.
A total of 307 properties were in escrow at the end of March, up 12.5 percent from a year ago and 24.3 percent higher than February.

Figures show that pending escrows have been rising since September when the market hit a record-low of
155 open escrows.

"There is no doubt that the quick run-up in prices during the boom years, today's higher inventory of homes for sale and the presence of foreclosures have a triple impact on sales and prices," said Jim Link, the association's chief executive officer. "However, gradually rising sales will reduce the impact on resale prices."

The median price of the 151 single-family homes sold last month was $470,000, down 19 percent from a year ago and off 4.1 percent from February, according to the organization.

The low point was in January when the median hit $460,000 while the record high of $643,000 was set in April 2006.

Likewise, the median price for condos during March was $275,000, down 28.6 percent from March 2007 and off 11 percent on a month-to-month basis.

The high point for condo sales came in January 2006 when the median stood at $397,000.

A total of 2,085 properties were for sale throughout the Santa Clarita Valley at the end of March, which is up 6.8 percent from a year ago, but down 4.4 percent from February, according to the association.

At the current pace of sales, the inventory represents a 10.2-month supply, which is still a buyers' market.

"Clearly the market has shifted gears," Chastain-Shine said. "Although it will take months before we'll know with certainty that the market has stabilized, but it certainly looks like it's moving in that direction."

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