With little help for housing coming from lawmakers, home sales in the San Fernando Valley during September slowed even with favorable prices and the lowest interest rates in decades, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Monday, Oct. 24.
A total of 541 single-family homes closed escrow last month, down 6.9 percent from a year ago. Nonetheless, the September tally was up 67.5 percent from the record low of 323 sales set in January 2008.
Condominium sales faired better with the 197 closed escrows up 1.5 percent from a year ago. Condo sales are up 87.6 percent from the record low.
“Investors are having a field day as are well-heeled first-time buyers, although both report a simple fact,” said Fred Sabine, president of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. “Cash is king while buyers in need of financing continue to run a gantlet of obstacles that frustrate buyers who in any other market would easily land a loan.”
Combine ongoing problems securing credit with the toxic political environment, an anemic economic recovery, along with seasonal factors and it’s easy to comprehend why the market is moving sideways, Sabine said.
“The resale market definitely is up from the depths of the recession,” he said, “short sales are moving a little faster and we see incremental improvements, yet getting people back to work is the only thing that will truly get housing on track.
“I hear the same story from everyone,” he said. “I know it’s a great time to buy and I would buy, if only I had the money.”
The median price of homes in the San Fernando Valley also moved sideways with September’s median of $360,000 down 8.9 percent from a year ago and up slightly from this August. The condo median price of $235,000 was up 6.8 percent from September 2010 and 15.2 percent better than August.
“There’s a backlog and growing demand for housing. Renters want to own. Immigrants come from around the globe because we still have more opportunity here then elsewhere,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “Yet as the political rhetoric increases, solving housing issues seem to be taking a back burner.”
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Until Congress decides to fix the secondary mortgage market and focus on jobs we’ll see only incremental improvement.”
Little is being done to loosen up lending requirements that prevent ready and willing buyers from owning a home, he said, which, in turn, would further stabilize prices, thus helping the estimated 2.1 million Californian’s who owe more than their home is worth.
The Association reported a total of 3,116 properties listed for sale at the end of September. That was down 17.8 percent from a year ago. At the current pace of sales the inventory represents a 4.2-month supply, down from the 4.9-month inventory of September 2010 and under the 5- to 6-month stock that represents a balanced market.
Pending escrows, a measure of future resale activity, totaled 979 transactions, down 6.3 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.