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SCV home sales continue to rise

Posted: July 29, 2008 11:42 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Sales of single-family homes and condos in the Santa Clarita Valley posted the fifth consecutive month of increased activity in June and the Southland Regional Association of Realtors believes the local residential real estate market is improving and will continue to remain on the rebound in the coming months.

In June, there were 299 transactions, representing an 11.2 percent increase for sales of existing single-family homes when compared to June 2007, according to a report from the Realtors group released Tuesday.

The nearly 300 transactions also mark a 4.1 percent increase from May.

Condo sales are also on the increase, as the association reports 75 condo sales in June, a 5.6 percent increase from June 2007.

"Open houses are packed with a lot of people expressing interest in buying a home, but closing a sale remains difficult," Doreen Chastain-Shine, president of the association's Santa Clarita Valley division, said in a statement. "Qualifying for a home loan is the primary problem, plus there is a mismatch between buyer expectations regarding prices and the reality on the ground."

The median price for a single-family home, as well as condos, continues to slide, as the association reports a 25.6 percent drop from a year ago. The current median price stands at $450,000, a strong change from the record high of $643,000 set in April 2006.

Similarly, the median price for condos is down 23 percent from a year ago to $285,000. The record price for a condo was $397,000 and was set in January 2006.

In the report, Jim Link, the association's chief executive officer, said the Santa Clarita Valley is "far better off than other, harder hit areas of the state, especially those that had large numbers of new home tracts aimed primarily at first-time home buyers. We're optimistic that the worst has passed and that the Santa Clarita Valley resale market will show further improvement over the coming months as distressed properties are worked out and sold."

The association also addresses the price implications from a high-rate of foreclosures and short sales.

"No doubt that foreclosures and short sales are up and there are still current home owners at risk of losing their property," Chastain-Shine said in the report. "But the pressure on prices is not nearly as great as buyers assume simply because there are not nearly enough active listings to force sellers or banks to accept steep discounts."

The association reports 1,940 active listings at the end of June, which is down 16.4 percent from 2007 and less than one percent below the May tally.

The current inventory represents a 6.4-month supply at the current pace of sales, which is slightly over the 5-to-6-month supply the association deems a balanced market.

There was a total of 370 open escrows at the end of June, an increase of 26.7 percent from a year ago and 9.1 percent higher than May.

The association takes the 370 open escrows as an indication that buyers are growing more confident and that resale activity will continue to rise throughout the Santa Clarita Valley during the coming months.


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