Sales typically taper off in September, but this year home and condominium sales posted higher than usual numbers as buyers raced to lock in low interest rates that can offset the impact of higher prices, the Southland Regional Association of REALTORS® reported on Friday, Oct. 18.
A total of 194 single-family homes closed escrow last month, up 19.8 percent from a year ago though, following seasonal patterns, down 18.5 percent from August.
Condominiums came in with similar numbers: 72 closed escrows were up 12.5 percent from a year ago, yet down 28.7 percent from the prior month.
“Low rates continue to give the local housing market a shot in the arm,” said Amanda Etcheverry, chair of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the Southland Regional Association of REALTORS®. “Better than expected sales are directly related to two factors — Santa Clarita is a very desirable market and the lowest rates in three years mean buyers get more house for the money, offsetting or at least softening the blow of today’s high resale prices.”
Etcheverry believes the market will stay busy for at least for the next month or two. In fact, pending sales, a measure of future sales activity, totaled 294 home and condo open escrows, an increase of 21.0 percent over a year ago.
That comes even as resale prices hover just below record highs. The single-family home median price for September — meaning half the sales were higher and half were lower — came in at $623,00. That was up 3.9 percent from a year ago, yet still below the record high of $643,000 that was set in April 2006.
The condominium median price of $374,000 was down 2.9 percent from a year ago and 11.0 percent below its record high of $420,000 set this August.
“Even with near-record low interest rates, too many prospective buyers have been pushed out of the market by high prices and low inventories,” said Tim Johnson, the Association’s chief executive officer. “Solve California’s housing supply crisis and demand most likely would surge as the market found its true level, not today’s market that limits options for buyers and sellers.”
The Association reported at the end of September a total of 518 active listings throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. That was down 26.8 percent from a year ago and represented a 2.0-month supply at the current pace of sales. A balanced market, where neither buyer nor seller has an advantage, once was regarded as a 5- to 6-month supply, a level not seen since 2010.
September was the third consecutive month of falling inventory following 13 months of gains, with many high double-digit increases, including a 63.9 percent jump in the supply.
Not surprisingly, there were zero distressed sales of condominiums during September.
The Association reported three foreclosure-related single-family home transactions along with three short sales, where the lender agrees to a sale price less than what is owed on an existing loan. Of the 266 home and condo sales, 97.4 percent were standard sales involving traditional buyers and sellers.
The Southland Regional Association of REALTORS® is a local trade association with more than 10,300 members serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. SRAR is one of the largest local associations in the nation.
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