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Home sales rise in August

Posted: September 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Home sales rose sharply in the Santa Clarita Valley during August, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported off Thursday.

And based on reports from around California, Santa Clarita is one of the strongest places for real estate activity.

Single-family-home sales rose 19.4 percent from a year ago, and posted the third consecutive monthly gain.

It was reported that 222 homes changed hands, the best monthly tally since July 2009. The numbers are also up more than 124 percent from the record low set in January 2008.

Condo sales also were up as well, recording more than a 38-percent increase in August 2011 over the same month in 2010.

August sales were also up nearly 29 percent over July of this year. Measuring against the record low set for condo sales in January 2008, sales were up more than 203 percent.

“There’s pent-up demand for housing,” said Sal Aranda, president of the association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division. “But what has stalled some buyers up to this point is economic uncertainty and what, if anything, lawmakers will do to speed recovery of housing.”

Of note, the number of homes on the market in August represented a 5.5-percent decrease in the number of homes for sale in 2010.

While median prices are down from 2010, and the record levels set in 2006, home prices slowly crept up over the summer. Single-family home median prices increased 7.7 percent over the record low set in January 2011, while condominium median prices have not risen, nor have they declined in that period.

The strong August sales numbers speak to the strength of our local community, Aranda said.

“The Santa Clarita Valley is a highly desirable place to live, the local economy is robust and the communities are welcoming. In the end, those attributes trump uncertainty.”

Pending escrows were also up 5.1 percent, the Realtors association reported. Experts say pending escrows are a measure of future activity and believe the increase means the growth in the sale of homes will continue. There were 393 open escrows at the end of August.

“There simply are not many communities in Southern California that offer so much while costing so little,” said Jim Link, the CEO for the Realtors association.

San Fernando Valley
Sales of single-family homes also rose in the San Fernando Valley in August, jumping 14.7 percent compared to a year ago, and up 18.4 percent from July.

The sale of 618 homes was the highest monthly total so far this year, and the best month since a year ago June. Home sales are up 91.3 percent from the record-low for this cycle, which came in January 2008.

Condominium sales jumped more than 6 percent over a year ago, and rose 15.1 percent from July. Condo sales hit the highest monthly total since June 2010 when federal and state credits were available. And they are up 100.5 percent from the record low set in January 2008.

Southern California
Sales in Southern California were up 8.6 percent in August over July, and up 10.2 percent in August from one year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Southern California August home prices declined in August, for the sixth consecutive month, from the prior year as sales of low-priced properties dominated the market reported the San Diego-based firm, DataQuick.

California home sales also posted an increase from both the previous month and previous year in August, reported the California Association of Realtors. Sales were up 8.6 percent in August over July and up 10.2 percent in August from one year ago.

Statewide, median prices for existing, single-family homes sold were up 1 percent from July.

“August’s median price marked the highest since December 2010, signifying that prices may be stabilizing in some market segments, as investors and first-time buyers continue to see value and opportunity in the market,” said Beth L. Peerce, president of the California Association of Realtors.

DataQuick said foreclosures in the Southern California region accounted for 34.6 percent of the sales in August, up slightly from 34.5 percent in July but down from 37.6 percent a year earlier. And short-sale transactions accounted for 17.9 percent of existing sales.

Nationally, RealtyTrac Inc. reported that foreclosures jumped 33 percent in August from July. The increase in August foreclosures represents a nine-month high and the biggest monthly gain in four years, the organization said.

The spike signals banks are starting to take action against homeowners, nearly a year after problems surfaced with the way many lenders were handling foreclosure paperwork.

Many banks temporarily halted all foreclosure actions, further stalling a recovery in the housing market. Bringing the backlog of distressed properties to market is seen by experts as key to revitalizing the real estate market.

“This is really the first time we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of new foreclosure actions,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “It’s still possible this is a blip, but I think it’s much more likely we’re seeing the beginning of a trend here.”


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