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Condos still lag; Realtors point to HOA boards resisting FHA approval
| Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012

For the second time in 16 months – both times in 2012 – single-family home prices across the Santa Clarita Valley topped year-ago figures during March.

Data from the Southland Regional Association of Realtors show a median price of $378,100 for single-family homes sold in March, up from $376,000 in March 2011.

Ever since November 2010, single-family home prices have been falling from year to year. The trend broke in January 2012 when prices came in stronger than January 2011, but they slipped again in February.

March was different. Not only were prices stronger, but so was volume. After the second-weakest January and February in five years, the 180 single-family homes that closed escrow in March made it the second-busiest March for home sales over that time.

Prices have been inching upward since December, when the median price was $340,000. They moved to $360,000 in January, fell back slightly to $358,000 in February and now stand at $378,100.

“Price are stabilizing or moving up, while home sales are rising in many regions throughout the state,” said SRAR CEO Jim Link.

He said buyers are “out in greater numbers as the economy improves” but noted that their choices are limited. Active listings of single-family homes at the end of March were off 37.9 percent from a year ago.

Condominium prices didn’t fare nearly so well in March, falling to their second-lowest level in more than nine years. Median condo prices bottomed out in January at $184,500 and then improved in February to $194,000 but slipped again in March to $190,000 – down 19.1 percent from the year-ago price of $235,000. Condo prices haven’t improved year-to-year since April 2011.

The 67 escrow closings in March were typical for condos over the last four or five years. Prior to the recession, twice as many changed hands each month.

Realtors say homeowners associations could take steps that would make more condos salable and ward off foreclosure.

“Too many condo boards of directors have resisted seeking FHA approval,” SRAR officials said in a statement Tuesday, “which makes it more difficult for prospective buyers to refinance an existing loan or obtain a new loan to purchase within an HOA. This tends to limit condo inventory … while increasing the likelihood that units may fall into foreclosure, thus driving the price down on all units.”

“Realtors can’t put a qualified buyer into some condominiums because the project is not FHA approved,”  said Erika Kauzlaurich-Bird, president of SRARs Santa Clarita Valley Division. “Or as a result, buyers have to make a much larger down payment, which is difficult for families in these challenging times.”

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