Defying a state and nationwide trend, sales of homes and condominiums during September in the Santa Clarita Valley rose significantly even as the number of properties listed for sale set a record low, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Thursday, Oct. 25.
A total of 190 single-family homes closed escrow last month, up 15.9 percent over a year ago while the 91 condo closed escrows soared 37.9 percent. Both categories fell from August numbers, 13.6 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively, due to seasonal factors and the rapidly dwindling number of homes listed for sale.
“The local housing market has recovered and the only way to go is up,” said Erika Kauzlarich-Bird, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.
The market has recovered here faster than other California communities due to multiple reasons, not the least being the high desirability of Santa Clarita as a beautiful, safe, modern community in which to live and raise a family. Kauzlarich-Bird praised local lawmakers for budgeting wisely and keeping taxes low while doing much to lure businesses, thus added jobs and filling local government coffers.
The September home sale total was up 91.9 percent from the January 2008 record sales low for home sales and 193.5 percent above the condo record low set in the same month.
Yet the dramatic plunge in homes listed for sale limits the local housing market and is generating a surge in multiple offers.
Kauzlarich-Bird said virtually every property priced under $400,000 generates 15 to 20 offers. There were recent reports of 75 offers on a bank-owned property while a listing she posted drew 12 offers within days with four more offers expected.
“There are a lot of people who saw this opportunity coming,” she said, “and the price of money is so cheap and prices still so affordable that it makes sense to make an offer.”
The inventory would grow, she said, if only more current owners, especially those with equity in their property, better understood the scope of this historic opportunity.
“There seems to be a miscommunication, a lack of understanding of what the numbers mean,” she said. “The long-term savings that come with a 3 percent loan mean some owners could sell, trade up to a better home, while spending about the same or perhaps even less than what they pay now.”
Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer, agreed that the Santa Clarita market is on the rise, noting that some of the decline in active listings was due to a drop in the number of bank-owned properties hitting the market.
Three months ago, REO’s accounted for 15.3 percent of sales, falling to 11.0 percent in September, the Association reported. That coincided with a rise in the number of short sales, up to 32.7 percent from 29.4 percent in June, suggesting a shift in bank strategy.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Link said, “but there’s an optimism in real estate that the market is definitely improving.”
Driven by the limited inventory, multiple offers and the statistical impact of increased activity in upper price ranges, the median price of homes sold last month increased to $370,000, up 2.8 percent over a year ago, while the condo median price of $203,900 rose 4.6 percent.
The inventory continued to vanish with the 412 active listings valleywide down 62.3 percent from September 2011 levels, setting a record low.
At the current pace of sales, the inventory represents a 1.5-month supply when a 5- to 6-month inventory is desirable. A year ago the inventory was at a 4.8-month supply. For comparison, when active listings peaked for this cycle in January 2011 at 1,162 active listings, it represented a 7.0-month supply at the then current pace of sales.
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.