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Home sales down in SCV

Posted: June 26, 2009 9:57 p.m.
Updated: June 27, 2009 4:30 a.m.

After 13 months of increases, the Santa Clarita Valley saw a slowdown in home sales last month, according to an area Realtors association.

There were 196 closed escrows in May — a 10.9 percent drop from 220 in May 2008 — according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

The median price of the 196 single-family homes sold was $400,000 — down 11.1 percent from $450,000 in May 2008.

That price decline is due in part to heavy activity in the entry-level property market, according to the association.

May was also the first time in five months the monthly tally was lower on a month-to-month basis, association President Nancy Starczyk said in a news release. She said the decline was largely due to processing of sales rather than a lack of demand.

“There is an absolute logjam with lenders, especially regarding short sales which take much longer to process and for banks to decide,” she said. “If more homes were on the market and if banks would just break loose to let short sales close, we (would) have more sales.”

Indeed, at a total of 480, pending escrows — a measure of future sales activity — were up 41.6 percent over May 2008.

While demand is not down, availability apparently is.

Current escrows are taking about 90 days to close, versus about 30 in a normal market, said Jim Link, chief executive officer of the association.

At the end of May there were 1,010 active listings in the valley — a 48.1 percent drop from the same time last year, according to the association.

The heaviest activity in home sales is in the area of foreclosed homes, Link said.

The record peak for closed escrows in May over the past decade was in 2004, with 370 single-family homes. That was also the record year overall for sales, with 3,869 escrows closed on single-family homes, according to the association.



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