Home and condominium sales during March in the Santa Clarita Valley improved on month-to-month basis yet remained sluggish compared to a year ago as buyers and sellers continue to adjust to new market conditions, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Monday, April 21.
A total of 134 single-family homes changed owners during March. That was down 11.6 percent from March 2013, yet—true to seasonal patterns, which have activity increasing in the Spring—increased 12.6 percent from this February.
Condominium closed escrows of 84 units reflected a similar pattern. The total was down 11.6 percent from March 2013, but up 40.0 percent from February. Condominium sales have risen 171.0 percent and home sales 35.4 percent from their respective record lows, both of which were set in January 2008.
“I’m pleased to see that activity is up compared to February,” said Nancy Starczyk, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. “There is a growing optimism among buyers and sellers as they see that economic conditions are improving.
“Great strides have been taken, yet it will take more time to fully recover from a deep recession and a realignment of housing and lending rules,” Starczyk said. “It’s also great to see more homes listed for sale, offering a few more choices. For a long time, the inventory was absolutely bone dry.”
There were 590 active listings at the end of March, up 89.1 percent from a year ago March, which was the record low. At the current pace of sales, the 590 listings represent a 2.7-month supply, up from 1.1 months in March 2013, yet still short of the desired 6-month supply.
“I’m optimistic,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer, “but I truly believe we’re in a holding pattern, waiting for buyers to accept that they cannot get bargain-basement prices and for sellers to understand there is a clear limit to their asking prices”
Link and Starczyk agreed that the fundamentals of today’s market are different from what existed just a year ago.
Lending standards have tightened and investors have largely left the market, vanishing as distressed properties dwindled. Indeed, traditional buyers accounted for a record-high 87.6 percent of all transactions closed by Realtors during March. A year ago standard sales accounted for 61.4 percent of sales.
Foreclosure-related sales held 3.7 percent of March sales while short sales set a record low at 3.7 percent. Twelve months ago, foreclosures and short sales accounted for 7.8 percent and 30.0 percent, respectively.
The median price of homes sold during March came in at $462,000, up 10.0 percent over March 2013 and 5.5 percent higher than this February. It was the highest median price since April 2008, yet 28.1 percent below the record high of $643,000 set in April 2006.
The condominium median price of $245,000 was up 11.4 percent over a year ago March, but fell 11.2 percent from this February and was 38.3 percent below it’s record high of $397,000 set in January 2006.
Link and Starczyk expect price increases to moderate over the coming months.
Pending sales—a measure of future sales activity—were up 6.5 percent from a year ago.
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.