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Inventory of homes for sale drops more than two-thirds from a year ago

Posted: December 26, 2012 4:47 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2012 4:47 p.m.
A Tesoro del Valle home in Santa Clarita listed for $980,000 in April 2012.  Intero Real Estate Services of Santa Clarita/Courtesy photo  A Tesoro del Valle home in Santa Clarita listed for $980,000 in April 2012.  Intero Real Estate Services of Santa Clarita/Courtesy photo 
<p>A Tesoro del Valle home in Santa Clarita listed for $980,000 in April 2012.  <em>Intero Real Estate Services of Santa Clarita/Courtesy photo</em></p><br /><br /><p> </p>

Sales of existing homes in the Santa Clarita Valley stalled in November, most likely the result of record low inventory levels in which fewer homes were listed for sale.

There were only 332 active listings of homes for sale last month. By comparison, there were 1,039 homes listed for sale in November 2011 – an inventory drop of 68 percent, said the Southland Regional Association of Realtors Wednesday.

A total of 167 homes changed owners, down 15.7 percent from a year ago. Historically, according to records kept back to 1997 by SRAR, the drop in homes sold follows a typical season pattern. But the realty association also believes the dwindling supply of homes for sale affected November sales as well.

Still, November sales were 67 percent higher than the seasonal record low for November set in 2007 when only 111 homes sold. And they were 68 percent higher than the record low set in January 2008 when only 99 homes sold for the entire month.

The inventory slide started in September 2011 and then accelerated early in 2012 beginning this February, SRAR reported.

At the current pace of sales, the inventory represents only a 1.4-month supply.

And just as inventory began to nosedive, buyers returned to the market prompting repeated reports of bidding wars.

“Multiple offers are common as a pent-up demand generates incredible interest on virtually every property,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of the Association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division.

The median price of a single-family home in November was $360,000, up 5.9 percent from a year ago, but unchanged from October, SRAR reported. The median price of a home sold in November 2011 was $340,000.

The median price has been hovering around last month’s price for most of 2012 according the association’s records, with prices hitting a high of $378,100 in March.

Standard sales, whereby an owner has equity in their home, led the way in November where 36.5 percent of all existing homes sold were standard sales. Only 12.7 percent of the November sales represented bank-owned properties. Short sales accounted for 35.1 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of the condominium sales, or 61 percent, were short sales, where the lenders approved a sales price for less than what was owed on the loan.

A big change, however, is on the horizon if Congress does not extend the debt forgiveness to homeowners on short sales and Realtors are urging that legislators extend it as part of negotiations over the national debt.

“The local housing market is doing just fine and will continue to improve in 2013 if Congress does its job and avoids making drastic changes,” said Jim Link, SRAR’s chief executive officer.

“Keeping the tax deductibility of interest on home loans and extending tax debt forgiveness in short sales are critically important if housing is to fully recover,” Link said.



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