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Brisk Housing Sales Postpone Seasonal Lull, but Values Fall : Real estate: Total of 880 single-family houses change hands, a five-year high for the month of October. Average price drops 9% from a year earlier.


The San Fernando Valley housing market may be easing into its seasonal winter slumber, but hibernation was postponed for at least another month as sales of single-family homes hit a five-year high for the month of October. Prices, however, continued to fall.

Sales of single-family homes totaled 880 last month, down 6% from September, but up 7% from October, 1993, according to the San Fernando Valley Assn. of Realtors.

Meanwhile, average sale prices tumbled to $227,300 in October, down 9% from a year earlier, and 4% below the average sales price in September. The median sale price for a house was $178,500, down 5% from a year ago, and $1,500 below September's median. The median price means half the houses sold for more than $178,500 and half sold for less.

Jim Link, executive vice president of the association, said sinking prices reflect heavy activity in the lower-priced market segments. "Most of the buyers are first-time buyers, many of whom had been frozen out of the market by the dramatic spike in resale prices that occurred from 1988 to 1991," Link said.

Prices have also been deflated by an abundance of foreclosed properties--remnants of the region's deep recession--as well as those being sold with damage sustained in the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake. The market has been recovering slowly since the fall of 1993, when sales began to accelerate, but Link said the market's health remains fragile.

"The recovery has continued despite nine hikes in home-loan interest rates," Link said. "But any further increases could shut the market down."

Overall, 1,012 single-family homes and condominiums were sold in October, up 6% from October, 1993, when 954 properties changed hands, and 6% below the volume posted in September of this year.

The average sales price of a condominium was $116,400 in October, down 11% from the same month in 1993, but up 2% from September. The median sales price of a condominium last month was $103,500, down 19% from a year earlier, and 7% below the median sales price in September.

The Valley realty group, the largest in California, has 7,800 members from North Hollywood to Calabasas. Its figures generally do not include sales of new homes.

October Valley Home Sales


Avg. Price: $194,800

Sales: 46


Avg. Price: $205,500

Sales: 140


Avg. Price: $139,800

Sales: 114


Avg. Price: $276,800

Sales: 258


Avg. Price: $246,300

Sales: 129


Avg. Price: $223,700

Sales: 193

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