For the sixth consecutive month, sales of existing single-family homes in the Santa Clarita Valley came in higher than the prior year while the median price of homes sold has been higher for two months already this year after 12 consecutive months of declines, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday, April 24.
A total of 180 single-family homes changed owners last month, up 9.1 percent from a year ago and 30.4 percent ahead of the tally reported this February. Home sales are up 81.8 percent from the record low for this cycle and have been higher than the prior year for the last six consecutive months.
Due to a limited inventory and problems related to homeowner community associations’ failure to obtain FHA approval, condo sales of 67 units were down 9.5 percent compared to March 2011. Nonetheless, condo sales were up 21.8 percent from this February, which was primarily due to seasonal factors.
“The local market really is quite remarkable,” said Erika Kauzlaurich-Bird, president of the Association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division. “Our numbers are strong. We’re seeing more truly qualified buyers, not just investors, and for properties priced under $450,000 it’s often turning into a multiple-offer situation.
“It’s perplexing and complicated because in some price ranges it’s a sellers’ market,” she said, “while in other price categories buyers still have an advantage.”
Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer, said Santa Clarita Valley sales reflect a pattern reported in multiple Southern California communities.
“Price are stabilizing or moving up, while home sales are rising in many regions throughout the state,” Link said. “With buyers out in greater numbers as the economy improves, the lack of inventory limits sales.”
The 724 active listings reported in the Valley at the end of March were down 37.9 percent from a year ago, continuing a pattern of double-digit drops. At the current pace of sales the inventory represents a 2.9-month supply, signaling what should be a sellers’ market that pushes prices higher. However, the continued presence of distressed properties and investors making all-cash purchases limits price increases, even in the busiest price ranges.
Link and Kauzlarich-Bird said they believe the drop in condominium sales directly relates to the limited inventory.
Additionally, too many condo boards of directors have resisted seeking FHA-approval, which makes it more difficult for prospective buyers to refinance an existing loan or obtain a new loan to purchase within an HOA. This tends to limit condo inventory, Kauzlarich-Bird said, while increasing the likelihood that units may fall into foreclosure, thus driving the price down on all units.
“Realtors can’t put a qualified buyer into some condominiums because the project is not FHA-approved,” she said. “Or, as a result, buyers have to make a much larger downpayment, which is difficult for families in these challenging times.”
The median price of single-family homes sold last month came in at $378,100, up 0.6 percent from a year ago and 5.6 percent ahead of this February. It was the second time this year prices came in higher and only the second time out of the last 15 months.
The condominium median price of $190,000 was down 19.1 percent from a year ago and fell 2.1 percent from February. While up 3 percent from the record low for this cycle set in October, the condo median price has not posted a year-to-year gain since April 2011.
Pending sales — a gauge of future resale activity — suggests local home sales will remain relatively strong. There were 475 open escrows at the end of March, up 16.4 percent from a year ago.
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.