Amanda Etcheverry: Buyers benefit as price hikes slow down

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Realtors throughout Santa Clarita helped close escrows during 2018 on 2,247 single-family homes and 988 condominiums, both lower totals compared to the prior year, as rising prices limited the pool of qualified buyers even as those buyers who stayed in the market gained added negotiating leverage, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported recently.

The home total was down 9.3 percent from 2017 while the condominium tally was off 15.0 percent. It was the second consecutive year local home sales declined and the first year since 2011 that condominium sales did not exceed the 1,000-sale benchmark.

The 3,235 home and condominium transactions reported in 2018 generated $1.8 billion for the local economy of Santa Clarita, not including related economic benefits of remodeling, landscaping, home furnishings and purchase of new appliances that typically accompany home sales. The combined sales total was down 1.1 percent while the dollar volume was off 5.9 percent from 2017.

2019 will see more of the same, but buyers now have way more negotiating power. While still early in the process with the housing shortage still providing sellers an edge, the market is giving buyers some advantages, especially as houses sit longer on the market, inventory grows slightly and more active listings report price reductions.

I agree with Tim Johnson, the association’s chief executive officer, that prices have risen so high, so fast that to many prospective buyers were left behind.

“We’ve hit a point where there may be downward pressure on prices,” Johnson said, “as the market shifts to the middle in an effort to regain buyers who have been priced out.”

Prices may overall continue to rise in 2019, but at a much slower pace, while sales will stay similar to 2018 results, he said. The annual median price of single-family homes was $594,242, up 4.6 percent from a year ago.

Unlike most Southern California communities, Santa Clarita is unique in that it has not posted a new record high home price but has kept the $603,492 record posted in 2006. The record high condominium annual median price of $389,575 was up 8.5 percent over a year ago. It broke the prior record of $380,583 set in 2006.

The average monthly active listing count for 2018 was 544 listings. That was up 18.5 percent over the 459 listing reported in 2017, but well short of the 2,232 listings seen in 2007.

Amanda Etcheverry is the 2019 chair of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the 10,300-member Southland Regional Association of Realtors.
David Walker, of Walker Associates, co-authors articles for SRAR. The column represents SRAR’s views and not necessarily those of The Signal. The column contains general information about the real estate market and is not intended to replace advice from a Realtor or other realty related professionals.

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