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Home, Condo Markets Show Healthy Increase

April 08, 1986|DANIEL AKST | Times Staff Writer

Sales of both houses and condominiums in the San Fernando Valley continued to rise sharply in March, according to the San Fernando Valley Board of Realtors.

Despite the strong demand, prices rose only moderately, as more sellers came forward to meet the growing appetite of buyers. "It's a nice, healthy market," board president Temmy Walker said.

The board said its members sold 1,073 single-family homes in March, up 29% over the month before and 19% over March of 1985, when 903 units were sold. The average sale price was $160,500, up 3.7% over February and 6.5% from a year earlier, when the average price was $150,700.

222 Condo Units Sold

The long-suffering condo market showed even more strength last month, as 222 units were sold. That figure is up 66% from February and 53% from March of 1985. The average condo sale price was $114,000 last month, down 1.4% from the month before, but up 4.6% from March of 1985, when 145 units were sold.

The latest figures showed that the recent run-up in depressed condo prices is slowing down. In January, condo prices rose 31% over a year ago. In February the year-to-date increase was 10%.

"Everything is due to the low interest rates," said Daniel Nelms, senior vice president and chief lending officer at Valley Federal Savings & Loan.

He said the overall strengthening of the resale market helps condo sales by making it easier for empty-nesters--people whose children have grown up--to sell a big house. Often these sellers then turn to condos. He said the current climate also makes it easier for first-time buyers who still might not be able to afford free-standing homes.

The real estate board assembles sales figures for residential real estate in the Valley, but only for units sold through licensed real estate brokers. An undetermined number of units, including most new dwellings, are sold by individuals or developers without the aid of a real estate agent.

Good Indicator

Nevertheless, the board's figures are a good indicator of real estate trends and, so far this year, they show a strong market. Experts attribute the trend to the availability of low-interest mortgages, pent-up demand for single-family housing and relatively little new construction of single-family houses in prime Valley locations.

The boom in sales has the Valley real estate industry hopping. Roger Gertz, president of Fallbrook Mortgage in Canoga Park, said his company is inundated with paper work thanks to its best March ever. It wrote nearly $60 million in new mortgages for the month, he said, after writing $325 million in all of 1985. Fallbrook could do up to $600 million in mortgages this year, he said.

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