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Local home sales steadily improving

Gains persists despite shrinking inventory in the SCV

Posted: September 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Listed at $355,000 as a short sale, a Saugus home on Paragon Drive sold within hours of being listed for sale in July 2012.  Listed at $355,000 as a short sale, a Saugus home on Paragon Drive sold within hours of being listed for sale in July 2012. 
Listed at $355,000 as a short sale, a Saugus home on Paragon Drive sold within hours of being listed for sale in July 2012. 

In tracking signs of a recovering home market, more homes are selling in the Santa Clarita Valley than in most any other period in the past five years despite a record low inventory. And median prices of single-family homes are up.

Sales of single-family and condominium homes posted month-to-month increases of 8.4 percent and 17 percent respectively, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported. A total of 220 single-family homes and 103 condominiums sold in August.

Falling inventory appears to be a chief factor in preventing the market’s recovery from speeding up. The market had nearly two-thirds more homes listed for sale in August 2007 with 1,064 listings. By comparison, only 422 homes were listed for sale in August 2012.

“We’re hitting a point in the market where the limited inventory, particularly the falling percentage of bank-owned properties listed, are limiting choices for today’s growing number of buyers,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of SRAR’s Santa Clarita Valley Division.

Of the homes listed for sale in August, however, a higher percentage are being sold than in most any period since 2007, according to data released Thursday by the SRAR.

By comparison, 96.2 percent of all homes listed for sale in August 2012 sold. In August 2007, only 30.1 percent of all homes listed actually sold. Following the August trends, only 52.9 percent of the list homes sold in August 2008; 79.9 percent sold in 2009 — the year when the state and federal home buying tax incentives were put in place; 56.7 percent sold in 2010; and 76.3 percent sold in 2011.

Another sign of an improving market is that the number of days homes stay on the market, on average, before being sold continues to drop in stark contrast to prior years when homes sat waiting to be sold in sluggish markets for months.

The average number of days a home was listed before being sold in August was 109 days — but that number is much lower in some areas, such as the 58 days a Stevenson Ranch home remained on the market before being sold in August, according to SRAR’s data.

The median price of homes sold in the SCV last month rose nearly 1 percent, to $375,000, on top of a 7.1 percent increase from July, SRAR reported. The condominium median price of $176,500 up 3.8 percent from July — however that price was down 11.8 percent from a year ago.

More than a third of all homes sold — nearly 35 percent — were reported as sold by owners who have equity in their homes, up from July, data show.

“A decline in foreclosures, while reducing inventory, ultimately is healthy and leads to a rise in traditional equity sales,” she said. “Yet nearly a third of current owners still owe more than their homes are worth, making it difficult for them to list for sale, thus contributing to the dwindling inventory.”

Average pending sales, a measure of future sales, were still showing positive gains. The 420 open escrows were up 6.9 percent from a year ago, SRAR reported.

“We continue to see a strong demand for housing throughout the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Jim Link, SRAR’s chief executive officer. “But the local market, like most of California, is hindered by virtually no inventory, which translates into multiple offers on much of what is for sale.”




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