Prices held steady as sales during September of existing single-family homes fell for the third consecutive month throughout the Santa Clarita Valley with consumer uncertainty likely to be an ongoing drag on the market as the traditionally slow holiday seasons approach, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Thursday, Oct. 21.
A total of 167 single-family homes closed escrow last month, down 6.2 percent from a year ago. Even with the slow down, home sales are up 68.7 percent and condo sales are 129.0 percent above the low points for this cycle, which came in January 2008.
"Uncertainty has consumers frozen in place," said Andrew Walter, president of the Association's Santa Clarita Valley Division. "But the buyers who are active in the market today are taking advantage of the great prices, low interest rates and limited competition."
Walter said the end of the federal and state tax credits earlier this year produced a surge in activity, yet ongoing concerns over the economy and jobs make current home buyers hesitate.
The one exception was in condominium sales, which posted a 9.2 percent increase in sales with a total of 71 closed escrows. Condos sales also were up 4.4 percent over this August.
"Condo sales are doing better because obtaining a loan is somewhat easier in the lower price ranges, while jumbo loans are still difficult to come by," said Jim Link, the Association's chief executive officer. "Buyers are eager to take advantage of home loans in the low 4 percent range and prices that are affordable, particularly compared to several years ago."
The median price of homes that closed escrow last month was $410,000, unchanged from a year ago and down 1.2% from this August. The median price has been hovering above $400,000 since February, going as high as $420,000 in April and July. While down 36.2 percent from that record high, the current median price is up 6.5 percent from the record low of $385,000, which appeared in December 2008.
The median price of condominiums sold last month in the Santa Clarita Valley was $219,000, up 0.5 percent from September 2009 and 1.9 percent higher than the August median. The condo price is up 6.8 percent from the record low for this cycle.
Active listings increased 67.2 percent during September compared to the prior year. There were 1,249 active listings at the end of the month, up from 747 a year ago. While a dramatic increase, Walter noted that at the current pace of sales the inventory is a mere 5.2-month supply, in the low range of what experts believe represents a balanced market. A year ago the inventory stood at a 3.1-month supply.
Pending escrows — a measure of future sales activity — fell 17.3 percent.
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.