Home sales during November throughout the San Fernando Valley fell 19.2 percent from a year ago as consumer uncertainty about the economy and seasonal forces combined to keep buyers on the sidelines despite favorable pricing, low interest rates and a rising inventory, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
Realtors closed escrow on 470 homes last month compared to the 582 sales reported in November 2009.
The 178 condominiums sold last month were down 11.4 percent from a year ago, but up 6.0 percent from this October. At a time of year when sales typically decline, condo sales have shown a modest increase in activity. Condo sales are up 69.5 percent and home sales are up 45.5 percent from the record low for this cycle.
"Sales always slow around the holidays, but what we're seeing this year are buyers who are eager to buy, yet they are frozen in place by tougher qualification rules for home loans and doubts about the economic recovery," said Patti Petralia, president of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. "Realtors see the favorable conditions, yet the market will not fully recover until buyers grasp the magnitude of the opportunities and loans are more readily available."
The single-family median price of $385,000 was down 2.5 percent from a year ago. It has shown modest ups and downs that keep it hovering between $380,000 and $400,000. The median is up 13.3 percent from the record low for this cycle of $339,900, but down 41.2 percent from the record high.
The condo median price of $210,000 was off 6.7 percent from a year ago and down 4.5 percent from this October. It bounced between $210,000 and $250,000 this year and generally has been trending slightly higher. The condo median is up 10.5 percent from the record low of $190,000, but is 49.4 percent below the record-high median posted during the boom.
"Resale prices have been trending higher since January 2009 when the market hit bottom," said Jim Link, the Association's chief executive officer. "That trend is likely to continue as bank-owned properties and short sales work their way through the system."
The year-end slowdown and buyer hesitation have allowed the inventory of homes listed for sale to grow slightly from the very low levels of recent months.
There were a total of 3,685 active listings at the end of November, up 27.6 percent from a year ago. At the current pace of sales, the inventory represents a 5.7-month supply, smack in the middle of the 5- to 6-month supply deemed to represent a balanced market. A year ago there was a mere 3.7-month supply, tipping the market in favor of sellers.
Pending escrows — a measure of future resale activity — of 948 listings were down 1.8 percent from a year ago, suggesting the market is in for additional declines in resale activity.
The Southland Regional Association of Realtors® is a local trade association with more than 10,000 members serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. SRAR is one of the largest local associations in the nation.