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SCV home sales up 7 percent in August

Posted: September 30, 2008 5:09 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Single-family home sales increased 7.0 percent during August throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported.

The 199 closed escrows were 13 sales higher than a year ago, but down 16.0 percent from this July when 237 homes sold.

While buyers generally are focusing more on single-family home opportunities, condominium sales increased 31.7 percent to 83 closed escrows during August.

"Lower prices were the most important factor driving increased sales activity, simply because buyers realize that they now have a chance of buying a home that was out of reach just a short time ago," said Doreen Chastain-Shine, president of the association's Santa Clarita Valley division. "The increase also could be related to the positive effects of being able to obtain a larger loan at a lower cost."

Chastain-Shine was referring to the fact that the July and August were the first months in which the conforming loan limit was raised to $729,000, which means loans up to that amount can be obtained at a lower interest rate than ever before.

The median price of homes sold during August decreased 19.6 percent to $450,000. That was $110,000 below the $560,000 median price of August 2007 and $9,000 higher than the $441,000 median posted this July.

The condo median during August came in at $269,500, down 25.6 percent from a year ago and off 5.4 percent from this July.

‘The real estate market will not find some level of normalcy until Washington resolves the current financial crisis, thus making more money available for home loans, and the limited supply of bank-owned properties on the local market work their way through the system," said Jim Link, the association's chief executive officer.

"Many of the foreclosure properties, which are not nearly as numerous as in other parts of the state, already are on their way to being sold," Link said. "We expect resale prices to flatten out soon and firm up between now and Spring."

That relatively brief window of opportunity is when Chastain-Shine and Link believe buyers will have the greatest opportunity to buy a home at a favorable price.

Activity throughout the SCV picked up during August, a fact supported by the association's statistics reporting pending escrows - a measure of future resale activity.

Pending escrows increased 89.3 percent during August compared to a year ago, suggesting that a growing number of people are getting of the fence and into the market.

There were 1,684 active listings throughout the Santa Clarita Valley at the end of August, down 825 listings for a drop of 32.9 percent compared to a year ago. Active listings also declined 5.3 percent from the July total.

At the current pace of sales the inventory represents a 6.0-month supply - right at the top of what industry leaders call a balanced market where neither the buyer nor the seller has a clear-cut advantage in negotiations.


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