Home sales throughout most of California have slowed down as the holidays approach, but here in the Santa Clarita Valley single-family and condominium sales and prices during November posted increases over a year ago, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Wednesday, Dec. 18.
A total of 171 single-family homes closed escrow last month, up 2.4 percent from a year ago. Realtors also closed escrow during November on 96 condominium sales, up 23.1 percent from November 2012. Following seasonal patterns, both categories were below October totals, down 4.5 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.
“There is valid concern that continued price increases may push some buyers to the sidelines or limit options for others,” said Bob Khalsa, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of SRAR. “Yet local demand remains strong, even as multiple offers diminish, prices rise, and investors pull back.
“Keep in mind that higher prices benefit current owners who are underwater, who have a loan larger than the current resale value of their property,” Khalsa said. “With each price increase, more and more owners return to positive equity.”
Nationwide underwater owners represent about 13 percent of owners, down from the 20 percent range a year ago and close to one-third of owners at the depth of the recession.
The median price of single-family homes sold last month was $445,000, up 23.6 percent over a year ago and 1.1 percent ahead of this October. It was the second highest median price reported since the economic recovery began, behind only the $450,000 median of this August. The median was up 30.9 percent from the recession’s record low of $340,000.
Similarly, the condominium median price of $295,000 was up 49.7 percent over a year ago and 5.4 percent higher than this October. That was the highest condominium median price posted since the recovery began, matching the median reported in August.
“The same pressures that impact the rest of California are in play in the Santa Clarita Valley so activity may yet level off in the coming months. Plus, high percentage price increases are unsustainable,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “For now, gratefully, the desirability of the community and the early effects of new home construction are giving sales a boost even at a time of year when activity typically wanes.”
Link and Khalsa expected the inventory to continue to improve, especially if owners whose properties have returned to positive equity consider moving in the Spring in an effort to capture still low interest rates.
There were 531 active listings throughout the Santa Clarita Valley at the end of November, up 59.9 percent from a year ago.
Even with that increase, however, at the current pace of sales the inventory represents a 2.0-month supply, up from the 1.4-month supply of November 2012, yet well below the 6-month supply that represents a balanced market.
Clearly, however, distressed sales are vanishing while traditional buyers close most local transactions.
Of the total 267 closed escrows last month, 80.5 percent were standard sales. Short sales, where a lender allows a sale at a price lower than the outstanding loan balance, represented only 13.1 percent of the total. Foreclosure-related sales, also known as REOs, or Real Estate Owned, came in with a mere 5.2 percent of the total.
The 80.5 percent of standard sales was the highest on record.
The Southland Regional Association of Realtors® is a local trade association with more than 8,900 members serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. SRAR is one of the largest local associations in the nation.
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