Sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums in the Santa Clarita Valley increased during 2011 with home sales up for the third time in four years and condo sales up for each of the last three years, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday, Jan.24.
Realtors negotiated sales of 2,135 single-family homes and 888 condominiums last year posting a 2.6 increase for homes and 1.5 percent gain for condos.
Home and condo sales during 2011 generated more than $1.01 billion for the local economy, not including the purchase of related products and services that often follow each sale, such as appliances, remodeling and landscaping.
“The Santa Clarita Valley is a strong, unique market that does not typically follow national or even some Southern California statistics,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, the 2012 president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.
“It’s a vibrant community that attracts a lot of companies, has great schools and a lot of opportunity,” she said. “It’s the complete package in terms of being a highly desirable place to live and work.
“I think we’re on a good path where we’ll see prices level off and start a gradual climb as the number of foreclosures and short sales diminish, especially now that many lenders have restructured the short-sale process, making it easier and faster to get an answer and complete the transaction,” she said.
While other Southern California communities are struggling to recover from the Great Recession, Kauzlarich-Bird said Santa Clarita has been posting relatively strong numbers and is on track for a faster recovery.
“Short sales and bank-owned properties will be with us through this year and possibly well into 2013, so there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “Plus, the ongoing presence of owners whose property is worth less than what they owe will be a drag on the market.
“A sign that we’ve fully recovered will be when more conventional owners resume listing homes for sale,” he said. “That will signal their renewed faith in the economy and the market and enlarge the number of properties listed for sale.”
Unlike what’s happening elsewhere in the nation, where too many homes are on the market, Link and Kauzlarich-Bird agreed that an exceedingly small local inventory limits buyers’ options and is a brake on sales.
“Given today’s low interest rates on home loans and the best affordability in decades, we’d see many more sales if only the inventory was larger,” Kauzlarich-Bird said.
The 961 properties listed at the end of the month fell 22.7 percent from a year ago and represent a mere 3.0-month supply at the current pace of sales. A 5- to 6-month inventory is desired.
The single-family home annual median price of $364,867 was down 10.2 percent from a year ago. It was the fifth consecutive year of price declines, which began in 2007. The record annual home median price of $603,492 appeared in 2006.
The annual median price of the 888 condos sold in 2011 was $210,675, down 7.5 percent from the prior year. Except for a less than 1 percent increase in the median posted in 2010, the annual condo median has declined every year since 2007. The record annual median of $380,583 was set in 2006.
“The combined effect of a pent-up demand for housing and a two- or three-month inventory in some regions of the Valley will start driving prices higher,” Kauzlarich-Bird said. “Prices have been bouncing along the bottom for some time now, but the trend is clearly up for 2012 and beyond.”
2011 ended on a strong note for the Santa Clarita Valley with December home sales up 33.1 percent and condo sales up 110.0 percent over December 2010.
Open escrows at the end of December suggest the rally will continue well into the New Year. Pending sales — a measure of future sales activity — were up 30.5 percent.
The Southland Regional Association of Realtors® is a local trade association with more than 9,000 members serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. SRAR is one of the largest local associations in the nation.