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Record low inventory drags September home sales down

Still, home sales jump significantly over 2011

Posted: October 25, 2012 4:35 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2012 4:35 p.m.

Record low housing inventory in the Santa Clarita Valley resulted in both bad news and good for September home sales, according to a report released Thursday.

The bad news: home sales fell 13.6 percent, and condo sales dropped 11.7 percent, compared to August, reported the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

Local experts cite seasonal factors as one cause of lower home sales, but Realtors said the prevailing factor driving lower home sales is the lack of available homes listed for sale.

The current inventory levels represent only a 1.5-month supply; a year ago the inventory was a 4.8-month supply, the Realtors association reported. A healthy inventory is considered to be a five- to six-month supply.

As home sales have marked multiple months of increases in most metropolitan markets across the nation, the inventory of homes listed for sale has also been shrinking.

The good news: buyer demand is changing the landscape of the resale market.

Bidding wars have often erupted due to the limited supply of homes listed for sale, local Realtors report. They also said buyers are dropping contingency requirements and agreeing to make up any difference between the sale and appraisal price.

The growing demand for housing caused Santa Clarita Valley home sales to rise 16 percent in September over the same month in 2011, the association reported. Condo sales jumped 28 percent over 2011.

Nearly every property priced under $400,000 generates 15 to 20 offers, said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the association. There were recent reports of 75 offers on a bank-owned property, while a listing she posted drew 12 offers within days, with four more offers expected, she said.

And prices are up. Median prices for single-family homes in September increased 3 percent over 2011, and condos jumped nearly 5 percent over the prior year.

“The local housing market has recovered and the only way to go is up,” Kauzlarich-Bird said.

Despite the inventory drought, the sale of single-family homes jumped 16 percent over a year ago, with 190 such sales. The 91 condos that closed represented increase of 38 percent over the prior year.

“There are a lot of people who saw this opportunity coming,” Kauzlarich-Bird said.

The Santa Clarita market is on the rise, said Jim Link, the association’s chief executive officer.

The market has recovered here faster than in other California communities for many reasons, Kauzlarich-Bird said. Santa Clarita is a modern, beautiful, safe community in which to live and raise a family, she said. She also praised local lawmakers for budgeting wisely and keeping taxes low while doing much to lure businesses, thus added jobs and filling local government coffers.



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