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SCV home sales on the rise

178 sales recorded in April in Santa Clarita

Posted: May 23, 2008 3:13 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Sales of existing single-family homes in the Santa Clarita Valley hit their highest level in months as nearly 200 homes sold in April, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

The numbers represent the fourth consecutive month of gains and the first year-to-year increase in 13 months, according to the report.

A total of 178 homes changed owners in April, which is up 2.3 percent from a year ago and 17.9 percent higher than the March tally.

Sales had been trending downward since hitting a record high of 405 transactions in June 2005, but the April total was the first time since March 2007 that the total was higher than a year ago, according to the

Just like single-family homes, condominium resales posted the fourth consecutive month of increased sales with the 67 transactions during April, which is up 24.1 percent from March. Condo sales were 11.8
percent below a year ago, according to the association.

"With about 50 percent of the current inventory consisting of foreclosed properties or short-sales, buyers are coming out in droves to take advantage of what may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said
Doreen Chastain-Shine, president of the association's Santa Clarita Valley Division, in a statement. "I've had agents call to report that a growing number of properties are receiving multiple offers within days
of being listed for sale. Some of them see the price being bid up above the asking price."

Chastain-Shine believes that the local market has hit bottom and is turning.

The association reports that pending escrows, which they use as a measure of future activity, are at 381, a 34.2 percent increase from a year ago and 24.1 percent higher on a month-to-month basis.

Activity has been on a steady rise since hitting bottom in December when there were 160 open escrows. The record high of 662 open escrows was set in March 2005.

"We'll need a few more months of statistics to be sure that positive trends emerging today are solid, but the market clearly is evolving and activity clearly is on the rise," said Jim Link, the association's chief
executive officer, in a statement. "Prices will remain soft until foreclosures and short-sales caused by the sub-prime lending meltdown have moved through the system, but anyone waiting in the hope of a steep
price drop probably will be disappointed and miss an excellent opportunity to buy a home."

The single-family median price has been fluctuating in the mid- to high-$400,000 range with the $480,000 median in April, down 19.3 percent from a year ago, but up 2.1 percent from March, according to the report.

The first four months of the year saw the median slip under $500,000 for the first time in 16 months while the record high median of $643,000 was set in April 2006.

On a similar level, the condominium median price of $279,000 was down 27.5 percent from a year ago, off $106,000 from the $385,000 median of April 2007. The association reports that the price has been slowly
falling since the record high of $387,000 set in January 2006, with the March median of $275,000 being the low point in the current cycle.

The number of homes listed for sale declined during April compared to a year ago, down 6.8 percent to 2,014 active listings, according to the association.

The report also shows that the inventory at the current pace of sales represents a 8.2-month supply, still making it a buyer's market.

The association considers a 5-to-6 month supply to be a balanced market.


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