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SCV sales post 6th straight gain

Local home sales have been increasing each month over the previous year’s figures since Sept. 2011

Posted: April 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Sales of single-family homes in the SCV have exceeded same-month sales from the prior year for the past six consecutive months, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.


Sales of existing single-family homes in the Santa Clarita Valley have exceeded same-month sales from the prior year for the past six consecutive months, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Tuesday, releasing its March figures. And gains in sales prices are being made, as well.

Home sales figures are the highest since  March 2007, with one exception in 2010 when federal and state tax credits were in place to spur home buying. This March, 348 homes sold, compared to 275 sales the previous month and 310 homes in March 2011.

Yet the number of homes listed for sale is the lowest number in six years, reflecting the pent up demand to buy reported by experts, making it tougher for willing buyers to find a home to purchase.

Only 460 homes were listed for sale in March, the lowest number in years, and more than 100 fewer homes than the same period in 2011. Before the 2007 market crashed, 1,121 homes were listed for sale.

The 724 total active listings reported by SRAR in the SCV at the end of March are down 37.9 percent from a year ago.

At the current pace of sales the inventory represents a 2.9-month supply, signaling what should be a sellers’ market that pushes prices higher.


Price gains

Showing signs of recovery are the median prices of homes sold. Median prices in March are the highest March numbers since 2010, and prices have exceeded the year prior for two of the past three months.

Single-family home median prices last month came in at $378,100, up 0.6 percent from a year ago and 5.6 percent ahead of this February, SRAR reported.

Condominium median prices of $190,000 are down 19.1 percent from a year ago and fell 2.1 percent from February.

“The local market really is quite remarkable,” said Erika Kauzlaurich-Bird, president of the Association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division. “Our numbers are strong. We’re seeing more truly qualified buyers, not just investors, and for properties priced under $450,000 it’s often turning into a multiple-offer situation.”

The continued presence of distressed properties, however, and investors making all-cash purchases limits price increases, even in the busiest price ranges.

Further, property appraisals no longer support inflated sales prices limiting buyers as to how much financing they can receive to buy a home.

If a buyer overbids on a house, he or she will have to come up with the cash difference out of his or her own pocket.

“It’s perplexing and complicated because in some price ranges, it’s a sellers’ market, while in other price categories, buyers still have an advantage,” Kauzlaurich-Bird said.

Still, as evidenced by sales figures, buyers are back in the market looking for homes to buy.


Home sales

Escrows closed on 180 single-family homes, up 9.1 percent from a year ago and 30.4 percent ahead of the tally reported this February, SRAR reported.

Home sales are up 81.8 percent from the record low for this cycle and have been higher than the prior year for the last six consecutive months, the association reported.

Santa Clarita Valley sales reflect a pattern reported in multiple Southern California communities, said Jim Link, CEO for SRAR.

“Prices are stabilizing or moving up, while home sales are rising in many regions throughout the state,” Link said. “With buyers out in greater numbers as the economy improves, the lack of inventory limits sales.”

Locally, Realtors report the shrinking inventory of condos and homes for sale is creating a competitive market for buyers with multiple offers coming in for homes.

And failure by homeowner community associations to obtain FHA approval for their complexes is limiting inventory even more in condominium and townhome complexes. A widely criticized rule change in the loan approval guidelines, made by the FHA in late 2009, resulted in loss of certification for nearly 92 percent of all community associations in 2011.

In December, The Signal reported that only 27 percent of all condo and townhomes sold in Santa Clarita involved FHA-backed loans during 2011.

The loss of certification and failure of homeowner community associations to obtain FHA approval has negatively affected the sale of condos in the SCV. Condo sales of 67 units were down 9.5 percent compared to March 2011, SRAR reported.

Despite these hurdles, the numbers still point to a recovering market.


Market trends

As for the market as a whole, trends in San Fernando Valley are now beginning to mirror those in the SCV, signaling a widening recovery.

Increasing sales and median prices and a tightening inventory exist in the SFV as well now.

Locally, pending sales — a gauge of future resale activity — suggests local home sales will remain relatively strong, SRAR reports. There were 475 open escrows at the end of March, up 16.4 percent from a year ago. 


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