Sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums in the Santa Clarita Valley posted double-digit increases during January, continuing a months-long trend supporting reports that the local housing market is on the mend, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Realtors closed escrow on 146 home sales during January throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, an increase of 24.8 percent over a year ago, while the 64 condominiums that changed owners were 33.3 percent higher. January home sales were up 47.5 percent and condo sales rose 106.5 percent from their record lows for this cycle, both of which came in January 2008.
“Multiple factors are making housing heal faster locally than other regions of the nation and California,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of the Association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division.
“First and foremost, Santa Clarita is a fantastic place to live and raise a family,” she said. “Plus, the city has worked hard to make conditions favorable for businesses, which has yielded an ongoing influx of corporations and expansion of theatrical production companies, not the least being Disney. That means there are more opportunities locally for solid, well-paying jobs.”
Kauzlarich-Bird and Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer, agreed that three factors temper recent gains and keep a full recovery at bay:
• Prospective buyers and sellers need to pay more attention to local housing statistics and less to statewide and national reports that too often do not reflect the local reality. “Get out of a negative mindset,” Kauzlarich-Bird said. “We don’t follow national statistics.”
• Unlike other parts of the nation, Santa Clarita has too few properties listed for sale. At the end of the month there were a mere 944 active listings, 18.8 percent below a year ago. At the current pace of sales, that represents a 4.5-month supply, down from 7.0 from January 2011, and below the desire 5- to 6-month inventory that indicates a balanced market.
“There are plenty of prospective buyers and lots of pent-up demand for housing, but too small of an inventory,” Link said. “To increase the inventory, local owners need to better understand the tradeoffs if they want to move to a better home. Additionally, banks have been slow to release properties acquired through foreclosure and need to make further improvements in their response time on short sales.”
• Short sales, where a home is sold for less than the outstanding loan, and foreclosures still represent too large a percentage of local activity, a reality likely to continue through much of 2012, Link said. The recent settlement between state attorneys general, including California’s, and five major lenders may yield faster action by lenders and offer some assistance to limited numbers of owners who owe more than the current market value of their home. The median price of the 146 homes sold last month was $360,000, up 4.0 percent from a year ago and 5.9 percent higher than the record low for this cycle. The condo median of $184,500 was 27.4 percent below a year ago and was the lowest median since June 2002.
Pending escrows, a measure of future resale statistics, suggest Santa Clarita Valley’s upbeat sales activity will continue in the months ahead. Pending escrows were up 10.7 percent, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported.
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.