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VALLEY AND VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS

Valley Home Sales Surge 15% in May

Real estate: Prices rose 6% for the month as 1,068 houses were sold--passing 1,000 for the first time in two years.

June 10, 1997|JULIA SCHEERES | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sales of single family homes rose 15% in the San Fernando Valley for the month of May compared to a year ago, while average sales prices rose 6%, reflecting the area's most active residential real estate market in two years.

A total of 1,068 single family homes were sold last month, compared to 995 a year ago--the first time sales have broken the 1,000 mark since August 1995, according to the San Fernando Valley Assn. of Realtors.

Last month, the average home sold for $230,700 in the Valley, compared to $218,400 in May 1996.

The median sales price of single family homes rose 15% last month to $166,000, up from $145,000 in May 1996. The median price means that half the homes sold last month for more than $166,000, and half sold for less.

"Everything is selling faster, even property owned by banks, and prices are inching up," said Mel Wilson, president of the association. "While there's no chance houses will sell for what they could have attracted in 1989 or 1990, a home that just a few months ago sold for $200,000 will sell a little higher."

A downside to the improving real estate picture is a shortage of quality properties selling at $200,000 or less, said Jim Link, vice president of the Valley realty group.

"Quality listings are at a premium right now," Link said. "Realtors report that quality listings are selling within the first several days of being on the market."

Approximately 71% of the homes that closed escrow in May were priced under $250,000, with the heaviest concentration in the $120,000-to-$180,000 range, he added.

Sales in the condominium market also continued to rise last month, as did sales prices.

In May, 291 condominiums were sold, up 9.4% from 266 a year ago, and median prices rose 11% last month to $89,000, compared to $80,000 a year ago.

"Real estate leaders and probably more than a few homeowners are breathing a sigh of relief that better times are finally here," said Link. "For an industry that lost 40% of its practitioners to the recession, this is great news for the survivors."

The Realtors association tracks monthly sales from its 6,200 members from North Hollywood to Calabasas.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

MAY VALLEY HOME SALES

North West: Avg. Price: $119,100; Sales: 242

North East: Avg. Price: $123,400; Sales: 158

South West: Avg. Price: $273,100; Sales: 251

South Central: Avg. Price: $252,500; Sales: 196

South East: Avg Price: 272,100; Sales: 208

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