Sales of existing single-family homes picked up during March in the Santa Clarita Valley even as the median resale broke through the $500,000 benchmark for the first time since 2007, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported on Friday, April 17.
A total of 209 homes changed owners, up 56.0 percent over a year ago and 42.2 percent ahead of the February tally. The substantial activity bodes well for the spring home buying season, although a limited inventory may prevent the market from overheating.
Indeed, a lack of inventory appeared to restrict condominium sales which saw 69 units change owners during March, down 17.9 percent from year ago totals, but up 47.2 percent from this February
“What we’re seeing is a strong, traditional residential real estate market,” said Bob Khalsa, president of the Association’s Santa Clarita Valley Division. “Prices are rising, but at a moderate pace, even as sales pick up, suggesting that buyers are unwilling to pay more than what a property is worth.”
The median price of homes that changed owners hit $520,000, up 12.6 percent over a year ago and the first time the single-family median has been above $500,000 since December 2007. The March median was up 52.9 percent from its recession low yet remained 19.1 percent below its record high of $643,000 set in April 2006.
The median price of the 69 condominiums sold during March came in at $305,000, up 24.5 percent over a year ago. It was the fourth consecutive month the condo median was above the $300,000 benchmark, yet the March median was still 23.2 percent below the record high of $397,000 set in January 2006.
“A tight inventory tends to push prices higher and increase competition among prospective buyers,” said Jim Link, the Association’s chief executive officer. “But the rules for qualifying for a loan remain stringent, ensuring buyers can truly afford a home.
“And, appraisers balk if prices go up too high, too fast,” he said, “while lenders won’t issue a loan if they believe a home is above its market value unless buyers are willing to up their ante, to put more of their own money into the down payment.
“All this supports the conclusion that we’re in the midst of a traditional market,” Link said. “The remnants of the recession are disappearing, the market is kicking loose, and buyers are out in numbers, eager to land a home while mortgage interest rates remain very low.”
The 536 active listings at the end of March were down 9.2 percent from a year ago and represented a mere 1.9-month supply at the current pace of sales. More than 1,500 listing or a 6-month supply would be needed to produce a balanced market.
Open escrows, a measure of future resale activity, suggest the market will gain added momentum as we move deeper into spring and summer. There were 381 open escrows through the Santa Clarita Valley at the end of March, up 11.1 percent over a year ago.
Of the 278 home and condo sales last month there were only eight foreclosure related transactions or 2.9 percent of the total; 10 short sales or 3.6 percent; while standard sales accounted for 257 transactions or 92.4 percent, which was the second highest percentage reported since the recovery began.
The Southland Regional Association of Realtors® is a local trade association with more than 9,100 members serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. SRAR is one of the largest local associations in the nation.
- 30 -