The median price of single-family homes sold during March in the San Fernando Valley increased 13.6 percent from a year ago to $430,000, the highest price reported since July 2008, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Thursday, March 22.
The condominium median price of $281,000 jumped 22.2 percent from March 2012 to hit its highest level since June 2008.
Both totals were up sharply from the low points for this recession, with home prices up 26.8 percent and condo prices 51.9 percent higher.
“The drop in foreclosures, today’s extremely limited inventory, and growing competition for homes push resale price steadily higher,” said Sharon Barron, the 2013 president of the Association. “To be competitive in today’s market, buyers need to be well represented, fully qualified for a loan, and ready to make fast decisions.”
The 1,015 active listing total reported at the end of March was the second lowest number on record, behind only the 995 listings of December. Active listings were down 45.9 percent from a year ago and represented a 1.5-month supply at the current pace of sales. A 5- to 6-month supply typically yields a balanced market. For comparison, listings peaked for this cycle at 7,730 listings in October 2007 while the record-high listing tally of 14,976 came in July 1992.
“A large percentage of owners who typically would be selling at this time of year are waiting for prices to rise higher,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “Waiting may make sense if the sale price would be less than the outstanding loan balance.”
Yet, waiting may be unwise for owners who have equity in their homes and a desire to buy a different house, Link said.
“Yes, prices are likely to keep rising as the economic recovery continues,” he said. “But buyers will pay more for a replacement house while the risk increases with each passing day that interest rates on home loans also will rise.”
Realtors closed escrow on the sale of 498 single-family homes during March, a total that was up 30.7 percent from this February and down less than 1 percent from the 502 sales of March 2012. Despite the limited inventory, home sales are up 54.2 percent from the record low for this cycle, which came in January 2008.
March condo sales were up 20.1 percent from a year ago with 197 closed escrows. Condo sales were up 87.6 percent from the record low, which also came in January 2008.
“The recession hit the housing industry hard,” Barron said. “The recovery would be stronger, faster and more balanced if only there were more properties listed for sale.”
As an additional sign that the housing market is improving, more than two thirds of all closed escrows during March were standard sales, the Association reported. The 466 standard sales represented 67.1 percent of total closed escrows.
Short payoffs — where lenders agree to a sale price that is less than the loan balance — accounted for 154 sales or 22.2 percent to total closed escrows. There were only 69 Real Estate Owned transactions — properties sold by lenders that typically were acquired via foreclosure — or a mere 9.9 percent of all transactions.
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.