Home sales in the Santa Clarita Valley hit their highest mark so far this year with the 186 closed escrows reported during May up 7.5 percent compared to a year ago, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Friday, June 22.
The tally also was 5.7 percent better than this April’s activity, and up 87.9 percent from the bottom of the nationwide recession. Local monthly totals have bested the prior year in 10 of the last 12 months.
Likewise, the 83 condominiums that closed escrow last month were up 5.1 percent over May 2011, though down 17.8 percent from this April, which was the highest monthly condo total in more than four years. Condo sales were up 167.7 percent from the record low for this cycle.
“The numbers are very positive. We’re moving in the right direction,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of SRAR’s Santa Clarita Valley Division. “Buyers who have been holding onto their money are jumping off the fence. I’m confident that the momentum will keep going. I’m certain that Santa Clarita’s appeal as the place to be, a great place to live, drives today’s market resurgence.”
Rising sales statistics come as a pleasant surprise, especially since Santa Clarita, like many communities throughout Southern California, has an extremely tight inventory of homes listed for sale.
“We have absolutely nothing to sell,” Kauzlarich-Bird said. “Virtually everything listed, especially under $450,000, It’s so tight that practically every property attracts multiple offers, which often bids the price up.”
A total of 570 properties were in the Association’s active inventory, down 52.5 percent from a year ago. That represents a mere 2.1-month supply at the current pace of sales compared to the 4.8-month supply reported in May 2011. A 5- to 6-month supply represents a balanced market.
“The multiple offers and bidding wars we’re seeing are the result of a lack of inventory, more than anything else,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “There will not be another market bubble or a fast run-up in prices.
“Instead, buyers are eager to take advantage of historically low interest rates on home loans and low prices, although today’s buyers have a different attitude than those in 2004 or 2005,” he said. “They are willing to compete for a property, yet they also are realistic about a property’s value and what they are willing and can afford to pay.”
The median price of single-family homes sold last month came in at $360,000, down 5.2 percent from a year ago. The condominium median price of $200,000 was down 11.1 percent. Both are up from the low points of the recession — home median price up 5.9 percent and condos up 8.4 percent —which came in November and October, respectively, of 2011.
Link and Kauzlarich-Bird attributed the drop in the median prices to a statistical reality: increased activity in properties priced under $450,000 tends to bring the median down.
“Prices hit bottom a while ago and the market clearly is on an upswing,” Kauzlarich-Bird said. “With prices and interest rates still low, any owner who has equity in their home yet desires a larger or different property, could well make the move and wind up paying less than what they pay now.”
Despite the tight inventory, pending escrows — a measure of future sales activity — suggests the market resurgence will continue through summer. There were 465 open escrows throughout the Santa Clarita Valley at the end of May. That was up 20.2 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.