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Slow but steady recovery in housing

October housing sale numbers continue encouraging trend

Posted: November 26, 2013 5:42 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2013 5:42 p.m.

The recovery in the Santa Clarita Valley housing market remained gradual but steady, according to new numbers released Tuesday by the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

More single-family homes and condominiums sold in October compared to both one month and one year ago, the numbers show.

The same is true for median prices, which were $80,000 higher than a year ago for both single-family homes and condominiums.

And in perhaps a more dramatic indicator of the local market, traditional sales strongly dominated the market in October. Standard sales of single-family homes accounted for 80.3 percent of all transactions — up from a lowly 36.5 percent in October 2012.

Foreclosures dropped to 3.9 percent — a figure that many experts say equals pre-recession levels. And local Realtors have been reporting for a few months now that investors are backing out of the market.

Condominium sales are really surging, signaling more entry-level buyers may be coming back into the housing market. Sales were up 26.5 percent over the prior year, and October marked the seventh consecutive month during which more than 100 condos sold in one month.

The relatively low median price of $280,000 for local condominiums appears to be the driving force for buyers, said Bob Khalsa, president of the association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division.

New listings reflect the health of a recovering market, as well. While a six-month supply of homes for sale represents a balanced market in which neither the buyer nor the seller has an advantage, October’s inventory marked the second month above a two-month supply. The supply dropped to .09 only 10 months ago.

“The housing outlook is positive, moving toward a normal market,” said Jim Link, the association’s chief executive officer.

“With fewer investors in the market and distressed properties evaporating, that clears the way for traditional buyers and sellers, neither of whom have a particular advantage at this juncture, even with the tight inventory,” Link said.
Khalsa and Link both agree that the gradual reduction of distressed properties and slowly improving inventories is helping the market move toward a new normal.

But both men also caution that continued recovery in the market “hinges on what Congress does with federal housing policy; the fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and if, how fast, and how high interest rates will rise.”



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