Home sales during April throughout the San Fernando Valley and nationwide fell compared to a year ago, clearly missing the stimulus of federal and state tax credits that expired last summer, yet prodded along by traditional buyers and investors eager to capture exceptional values from a limited inventory.
A total of 548 single-family homes changed owners last month, down 14.9 percent from a year ago and up less than 1 percent from this March, the Southland Regional Association of Realtor reported on Friday, May 20. Some 206 condos changed owners, down 5.1 percent from April 2010 and off 4.2 percent from March.
While down from a year ago, home and condo sales are up — 69.7 percent and 96.2 percent, respectively — from the record low for this market, which came in January 2008.
“There’s plenty of interest and plenty of activity in the market and there’s also considerable hesitation,” said Fred Sabine, president of the Association. “Well-informed buyers and investors jump in because they understand the fleeting nature of this market and the value of what they’re buying. Yet traditional buyers and sellers have difficulty seeing beyond the uncertainty.”
The median price of homes sold last month came in at $354,900, down 6.4 percent from April 2010. The condo median of $200,000 was off 20.0 percent.
Both categories have been bouncing along with spikes that have gone as high as $412,000 for homes and $250,000 for condos only to fall back to the $350,000 and $199,000 ranges, respectively. Nonetheless, home and condo prices are up, 4.4 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively, from their record lows for this cycle.
“Much of the activity is in the lower price ranges, which tends to drag the median price down, while additional high-priced homes could send it up briefly,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “We’re hopeful that as a long list of questions about loans, jobs, short sales and foreclosures are answered, the market will gain momentum.
“Attractive prices keep buyers and investors hunting,” Link said, “but families need speedy resolution of multiple issues by state and federal regulators to get over their hesitation.” A total of 3,159 properties were listed for sale throughout the San Fernando Valley at the end of April. That was up less than 1 percent from a year ago and represents a relatively tight inventory. At the current rate of sales, the active listing total represents a 4.2-month supply, up from a 3.6-month supply a year ago. Experts believe a balanced market appears with a 5- to 6-month supply.
Pending escrows, a measure of future resale activity, suggest the lull in sales may continue into summer. There were 966 open escrows at the end of the month, down 29.8 percent from a year ago.
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.