Following an unusually slow February, sales of existing homes and condominiums throughout the Santa Clarita Valley picked up dramatically during March, with home sales up 44.8 percent and condo closed escrows 54.7 percent higher, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.
However, the 166 homes and 82 condominiums that changed owners were down from year ago tallies, off 9.7 percent and 8.9 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 Santa Clarita Valley 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.”
March also marked the tenth consecutive monthly increase in the number of properties listed for sale throughout Santa Clarita, the Association reported.
At the end of the month there were 559 active home and condominium listings. That was up 48.3 percent from a year ago. For two-and-a-half years the local supply of active listings fell lower every month, but beginning in June 2018 the inventory started growing by double-digit numbers compared to the prior year.
Yet even with relatively tepid sales and buyer resistance to rising prices, the inventory represented a mere 2.2-month supply. That was up from the 1.4-month supply of March 2018, but well short of historical records and the 5-month supply needed to put buyers and sellers on equal footing.
The median price of single-family homes that changed owners last month was $614,000. That was up 5.2 percent from a year ago, but 4.5 percent below the record high $643,000 set in April 2006.
The condominium median price of $375,000 was down 2.6 percent from March 2018 and up 1.4 percent from February.
“Resale prices have been softening in recent months after soaring ever higher for years,” said Tim Johnson, the Association’s chief executive officer. “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 said. “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. That was down 3.4 percent from a year ago.
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 agrees to a sale price less than the outstanding loan balance. For the second consecutive month, there were zero distressed condominium sales during March.
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.