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Home Sales Appear to Fall Steeply in September : Real estate: Valley agents report 22% drop for single-family houses, along with decline in prices. New system of data collection may be partly to blame.


Sales and median prices of single-family homes in the San Fernando Valley appear to have dropped steeply in September.

The dive may be partly the result of the adoption of a new system of gathering data, according to the San Fernando Valley Assn. of Realtors. But even if adjusted for a wide margin of error, the September statistics reflect an exceptionally slow market, said David R. Walker, a spokesman for the realtors.

Single-family home sales were reported to have fallen 22% last month to 727 from 937 in the same month a year ago. The median price of a single-family home--the point at which half the homes sold for less and half for more--fell 12% to $158,000 from $180,000 in September last year, the group said.

The average resale price of a single-family home was $232,400, down 2% from $236,800 in the same month a year ago.

Month-to-month sales also plummeted: The association reported that the number of single-family homes that closed escrow in September was 28% fewer than the August figure of 1,008 homes, and September's median price was 7% lower than August's median of $169,000.

Walker said the figures may be somewhat skewed because the realtors association has just adopted a new regionwide method of collecting data. The change meant that some of September's sales were probably omitted, a glitch that Walker said will soon be corrected.

Walker said as many as 50 sales of all kinds of residential real estate may have been overlooked in the change to a new database. That means the yearly drop in sales of single-family homes might have actually been only 17%--still a sharp decrease but not out of line with trends recorded earlier this year.

While acknowledging that the market has slowed, Pat A. Zicarelli, president of the realtors association, said that pent-up demand for new homes is still high. The problem is that few of these potential buyers can get loans, he said, adding: "There is no doubt that extremely tough lending standards are the single most important factor restraining sales."

By contrast, the association's new statistics showed a strong surge in condominium sales. A total of 162 condominiums closed escrow in September, up 20% from 135 in the same month last year. The median price of a Valley condominium last month was $85,000, down 24% from $111,500 a year ago, and the average price was $101,700, down 11% from $114,200 in September last year.

The Valley realtors association, the largest in California, reports housing sales reported by its 6,800 members from North Hollywood to Calabasas.


September Valley Home Sales


Avg. Price: $210,300

Sales: 120


Avg. Price: $133,900

Sales: 109


Avg. Price: $303,400

Sales: 140


Avg. Price: $215,100

Sales: 136


Avg. Price: $276,100

Sales: 111

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