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Home sales up in October

Realtors sell more than 200 single-family homes in a month for the fourth time this year

Posted: November 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.

A home in Stevenson Ranch is seen recently.

 

Despite the record low number of houses for sale on the market, persistent buyers drove October sales up 14.2 percent over the prior month and 23.3 percent over October 2011 in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Realtors closed escrow on 217 single-family homes during October, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.

“The minute something comes on the market, it’s gone for sure,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of the association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division. “We are seeing multiple offers; buyers are even outbidding themselves.”

Local home sales broke the 200-sale benchmark for the fourth time this year, the realty group announced. October home sales were up 119.2 percent from the record low for this cycle, which came in January 2008.

While sales of single-family homes jumped, sales of condominiums slowed. A total of 83 condos changed owners last month, down 2.4 percent from a year ago and off 8.8 percent from September. Still, the October total was up 167.7 percent from the low for this cycle, which also was set in January 2008.

Median prices continue to creep up as well due to multiple offers on nearly all properties, experts said. October’s median price for a single-family home was $360,000 — off only 1.1 percent from a year ago. The median price for a condominium rose 7 percent to $200,000.

Sales price gains have been slower due to the number of bank-owned and short-sale properties available in the aftermath of the real estate market crash. But as the number of those homes continues to drop, Realtors say prices will gradually rise.

“You won’t see huge jumps in prices right away because appraisers are still regulated,” Kauzlarich-Bird said. “And (comparable prices) for clients’ homes always contain one or two short sales in the area.”

Some of the distressed properties aren’t competitively priced; they’re listed at lower prices than they should be to sell the property quickly, she said.

There were 373 active listings at the end of October on the service operated by the realty association, down 66.3 percent from a year ago. It was also the third consecutive month that the inventory decline was in excess of 60 percent.

And each month the available inventory drops lower. The October inventory represented a mere 1.2-month supply of homes for sale. In September, the inventory level was a 1.5-month supply. By comparison, the inventory level a year ago was a 4.2-month supply.

Ideally, a balanced market, where neither buyers nor sellers have an advantage, is a five- to six-month supply.

Santa Clarita is just part of a statewide trend that has seen the supply of homes listed for sale fall sharply lower with each passing month, said Jim Link, Southland Association of Realtors CEO.

Standard sales and short sales posted their highest percent so far in this market recovery. Standard sales, in which a homeowner has equity in his or her home, accounted for the largest chunk of sales at 36.5 percent, followed closely by short sales, where lenders allow a sale for less than what is owed, which were at 35.1 percent. Only 12.7 percent sales last month were of bank-owned homes the realty association reported.

However, if Congress fails to pass an extension for the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act — set to expire at the end of 2012 – buyers won’t see nearly as many short-sale opportunities, Kauzlarich-Bird said. If that happens, the total inventory of homes for sale will shrink severely and prices may rise more.

“Buyers understand that and they want to get something now,” she said.

“Despite a vanishing inventory, we’re confident that 2013 will see strong activity and continued improvement in the local housing market,” Link said. “There’s pent-up demand for housing out there that is generating multiple offers on virtually every property.”

jadkins@the-signal.com

661-287-5599

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