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SCV housing market outpacing other regions

Posted: May 23, 2014 6:43 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2014 6:43 p.m.

With an increase in the number of homes sold in April, and rising median prices, Santa Clarita is outperforming other regions, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors CEO Jim Link.

Sales of single family homes were up nearly 17 percent over 2013, and 5 percent higher than March, the group reported Friday.

The median price of $485,000 was up $23,000 over March – and the highest monthly median price recorded since the market crash in 2008.

Median prices, however, vary considerably between neighboring communities according to data the association releases to the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal each month.

Tracking properties in Newhall, Acton, Canyon Country, Castaic, Saugus, Stevenson Ranch, Valencia and Agua Dulce – median prices ranged from $429,000 in Newhall to $700,000 in Agua Dulce for the month of April.

Though sales of single-family homes continue to recover, the sale of condominiums slowed over last year but increased a bit over March.

Condo median prices, however, jumped $20,000 in April over March. Prices have been bumping up and down since May of last year.

Local Santa Clarita Valley realtors noted some trends occurring in the market today.

There are fewer multiple offers than a year ago when buyers were willing to write an offer on anything and as investors have mostly left the market.

But the number of homes listed for sale has increased, taking pressure off of prospective buyers to find a home – any home.

There were 538 homes listed for sale in April. During the same month in 2013, there were only 338, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors, or SRAR, reported.

“There are more options for a buyer to find the perfect home, but the market still isn’t so oversaturated with inventory that a seller wouldn’t be able to sell,” said Cherrie Brown with HomeSmart.

With more homes available, buyers have put the brakes on ever-rising prices and lenders, for the most part, still restrict how much they’ll lend.

Some sellers even sit on their homes — afraid to put them on the market for fear they won’t find another home to buy.

“In the Santa Clarita Valley cities there are anywhere between 10 to 20 new listings entering the resale market in a 24-hour period,” said Connor MacIvor with Re/Max.

With that steady inflow of new listings, chances are good a buyer will find something in a relatively short period of time, he said.

Buyers, however, are not ‘rushing’ into the market today as they were last year when inventory was slim. MacIvor points to the increase in the number of days a home is on the market compared to last year.

Days on the market
The number of days on the market has increased 30 percent from January of this year, and the 20 percent increase in home prices has priced some buyers out of the market, he said.

“Real estate hinges on jobs,” said Nancy Starczyk, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of SRAR. “The younger generation is finding it difficult to get employment; hence, they’re not looking at real estate investment early on, it’s being put on the back burner.”

But the increase in prices isn’t slowing everyone down as sales of single-family homes in the Santa Clarita Valley continue to increase.

“As distressed sales and bargain-price properties disappear from the market home price increases are moderating,” Starczyk said.

Even though prices have risen as the market has stabilized, the monthly payment amount a buyer would have to make isn’t that great. In some cases, it might only amount to an extra $50 a month on a fixed 30-year mortgage, said Sam Heller with Keller Williams.

“And mortgage lenders are now allowing those who had a short sale or foreclosure to qualify for a new mortgage sooner — in some cases as soon as one year after a short sale — so after stalling for so long buyers have decided once again to take the plunge,” Heller said.

Homeowners who want to move up again have the opportunity to do so, said Michael Regilio, a realtor with Re/Max, because interest rates are still low.

“The changes in the market have made it a good time to be a buyer again,” Regilio said.

But with ever-rising prices, is there another housing market bubble on the horizon?

Realtor Mike Lebecki with Re/Max says the bubble was created from “easy everything” — low-down payments, easy money, easy credit and easy appraisals. That was a hydrogen-filled balloon waiting to burst, he said.

“Today’s market recovery has been has been built on equity-invested strictly funded mortgages, tough FICO scoring and Harvard-like appraisal standards,” Lebecki said. “The combination of those three has created a market recovery built on a solid foundation, not something that floats in the sky.”

As for the housing market recovery in the Santa Clarita Valley, Lebecki jokes with clients that the town should have big electric billboards that read “Welcome to Santa Clarita … we’re in escrow.”


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