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SCV: Home sales continue march to recovery

February sales marked the highest levels in years; prices slowly gaining as well

Posted: March 19, 2013 3:00 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2013 3:00 p.m.

Santa Clarita Valley home sales and prices continued their housing-slump recovery in February, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.

Sales of 153 single-family homes reached the second-highest February totals since 2007, topped only by the 2009 spike when sales hit 167.

Sales increased 10.9 percent from a year ago and 2.7 percent over January numbers. Local experts predict sales will continue to climb in the spring, when the market typically gains steam, as more buyers begin looking for new homes.

But recovery will remain slow unless the record low number of homes listed for sale increases.

At 69, condominium sales exceeded all February totals since 2007, when 88 sales were recorded. Sales recorded were 25.5 percent over the year prior and 16.9 percent higher than January 2013.

Median prices in the Santa Clarita Valley, which had continued to slump for the past five years, are slowly rising, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported. The median price of a single-family home was $379,000 in February, the association reported. Condominium median prices reached $220,000.

The median price of a single-family home last month was up 5.9 percent from a year previous and 11.5 percent from the record low of $340,000 set in November 2011.

The median price of a condominium was up 13.4 percent over the prior year and up 6.4 percent from the prior month. It was the highest monthly median price for condominiums since May 2011 and up 29.4 percent from the record low of $170,000 set in July 2012.

Median prices on both types of housing were among the highest for February in the past couple of years, signaling an ongoing shift in the market’s recovery. Local Realtors said they expect continued price gains this year.

“Santa Clarita is recovering faster than some Southern California communities because of our demographics and a vibrant economy,” said Bob Khalsa, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the association.

Demand is even picking up in homes priced above $800,000, Khalsa said.

Continuing the upswing, investors are still buying property, generating multiple offers on nearly every home listed for sale, said Jim Link, the association’s chief executive officer.

Standard sales, in which a homeowner has equity in the property, accounted for 48.4 percent of all transactions last month, according to the association.

“Traditional buyers have difficulty competing with all-cash offers, especially when traditional financing remains limited and there are so few properties listed for sale,” Link said.

As for the inventory of available homes listed for sale, the association reported a 1.4-month supply in February — down 63.2 percent from a year ago. A healthy market, in which either the buyer or the seller has an advantage, is said to be a five- to six-month supply.

Listings peaked in September 2006, when 2,630 homes were up for sale. The plunge in the number of listings began about a year ago, and inventory for each of the past six months has been at least 60 percent lower than during the prior year.

“I don’t see listings picking up for a couple of years,” Khalsa said, “partly because there are still so many underwater owners, but more so because we’ve had a sea change in home ownership in this country.”



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