March home sales show ‘dramatic’ gains in SCV

Home and condominium sales in the Santa Clarita Valley rose “dramatically” in March despite an “unusually slow” February, a report by the Southland Regional Association of Realtors released Tuesday showed.

Home sales went up by 45 percent and condos closed escrows 55 percent higher than last month. The data also revealed that the 166 homes and 82 condos that changed owners were down last year’s tallies, off by nearly 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

“Part of the month-to-month increase was seasonal, with March typically busy as the homebuying season gets underway,” said Amanda Etcheverry, chair of the Association’s SCV Division. “And, this March we saw the lowest interest on home loans in over a year, which gave some buyers a shot of confidence and convinced them to close the sale.”

The association also reported March as the 10th consecutive monthly increase in the number of properties listed for sale throughout Santa Clarita.

By the end of March, listings marked 559 active homes and condos, which were up 48 percent from a year ago.

The median price of single-family homes that changed owners last month was $614,000, an increase of 5 percent from a year ago but 4.5 percent below the record high of $643,000 set in April 2006.

“Resale prices have been softening in recent months after soaring ever higher for years,” said Tim Johnson, the Association’s chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. “Now, some sellers are having to lower their expectations in the face of slowly growing inventories and rising buyer resistance to high prices.”

“It’s interesting that prices continue to rise even as the inventory slowly expands and some buyers balk at high price increases,” Johnson added. “However, today’s price hikes are in the low single-digit range, an increase driven in large measure by the critical shortage of housing throughout Southern California communities and in virtually all price ranges.”

Pending escrows, a measure of future sales activity, totaled 343 at the end of March and indicated a decrease of 3 percent from last year, the Association said.

Of the combined 250 home and condominium transactions closed last month, 97.6 percent were standard sales involving traditional buyers and sellers. Three home transactions were foreclosure-related and one was a short sale, where the lenders agree to a sale price less than the outstanding loan balance.  

For the second consecutive month, there were zero distressed condominium sales during March.

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