With an exceptionally tight inventory restricting sales and more buyers entering the market, the median price of homes sold during March increased for the first time since May 2011, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday, April 24.
The median price of $378,500 was up 2.3 percent from a year ago and up 14.7 percent from this February. It also was 11.7 percent higher than the record low for this cycle, which came with December’s median price of $339,000.
Similarly, the condominium median price of $230,000 was up 4.5 percent from a year ago and up 15.1 percent from this February. The condo median has been bouncing up and down for months, yet it is now 23.9 percent higher than May 2009 when it hit bottom with a median of $185,000.
“Prices are on the rise as more buyers chase fewer homes for sale, yet even with incremental increases, homes and condos remain affordable,” said Wendy Silver-Hale, president of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. “Prices are where they were in 2003 and today’s historically low interest rates on home loans mean every dollar goes much, much farther.
“Today’s supply simply is well short of burgeoning demand,” Silver-Hale said. “This is the pattern we’re seeing in communities statewide as the housing market continues its recovery.”
The 1,875 active listings at the end of March were down 38.7 percent from a year ago. It was the first time listings fell below the 2,000 benchmark since April 2005 — just as the boom market was moving toward its peak — and the lowest active listing total since the 1,492 listings of March 2004, which was the record low since the Association started keeping this statistic in 1986.
At the current pace of sales, the 1,875 listings represented a 2.8-month supply, compared to the 4.0-month supply of March 2011 and the desired 5- to 6-month supply that represents a balanced market.
“Get rid of distressed properties and all-cash buyers and we’d see prices rise even faster considering demand and how few homes we have listed for sale,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “Families are buying homes today that they could not have afforded just a short while ago.”
Link and Silver-Hale said they believe the lack of inventory limited home sales during March.
A total of 502 single-family homes closed escrow last month, down 7.7 percent from a year ago. The 164 condos that changed owners last month also were down 23.7 percent.
Following seasonal patterns, both categories rose on a month-to-month basis, with homes up 32.1 percent from February and condo sales 14.7 percent higher. Both also were up significantly from the record lows for this cycle: Single-family home sales were 55.4 percent better than the low of 323, and condo sales were 56.2 percent better than the low of 105 sales, with both lows coming in January 2008.
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.