Sales of existing single-family homes fell for the second consecutive month throughout the Santa Clarita Valley during August as a result of the end of federal and state tax credits, seasonal patterns and ongoing consumer uncertainty, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported On Tuesday, Sept. 21.
Realtors closed escrow on 186 homes during August, down 9.7 percent from a year ago, but up 5.7 percent compared to this July. The 68 condos that changed owners last month were down 10.5 percent from August 2009. Even with the declines, home sales were up 87.9 percent and condo sales up 119.4 percent from the record-low points for this recession.
"Buyers who understand that this is a favorable time to purchase a home, due to the combination of low prices and incredibly low interest rates, are making great deals," said Andrew Walter, president of the Association's Santa Clarita Valley Division. "Yet too many prospective buyers say ongoing concerns about the health of the economy and the security of their jobs are making them hesitate.
"That's a shame," he said, "because this is a transitional market and this window of opportunity will soon close."
Recently unveiled programs by the federal government to help unemployed owners keep their home and give buyers who are first-time owner-occupants an advantage over investors in the purchase of a home are expected to strength the economy, bolster consumer confidence, further lower the rate of foreclosure and boost local residential resale markets.
Jim Link, the Association's chief executive officer, also said lenders are slowly developing lending guidelines that should open the door to more home purchases while yielding long-term stability for communities and financial markets.
"Look for lending guidelines that ensure that home loans go to families who truly qualify and can afford the monthly payments over many years," Link said. "As today's uncertainty, foreclosures and short sales disappear, what will be left is a strong, consistent market that will encourages families to treat home ownership like the long-term investment it was always meant to be."
Even with the sales slowdown, the single-family median price of $415,000 was up 4.3 percent from August 2009. It dropped 1.3 percent from the $420,400 median posted this July, but that was the highest median recorded since the market hit bottom.
The condominium median price of $215,000 was down 6.5 percent from a year ago and off 2.3 percent from July. While off 45.8 percent from the record high, the condo median nonetheless was up 4.9 percent from its low point for this cycle.
Buyers willing to navigate today's market will have a slightly wider selection to choose from in the Santa Clarita Valley. The total active inventory of 1,180 listings was up 56.9 percent from a year ago.
At the current pace of sales, the inventory represents a 4.6-month supply, a considerable improvement from the 2.7-month supply posted a year ago. A balanced market, where neither buyers nor sellers hold a clear advantage, emerges when the supply hovers between a 5- and 6-month inventory.
Pending sales, a measure of future resale activity, followed seasonal patterns by falling 5.6 percent from a year ago. Home sales typically tumble at the end of summer and the beginning of the school year.
The Southland Regional Association of Realtors is a local trade association comprised of more than 10,000 members serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. SRAR is one of the largest local associations in the nation.