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Area Valleys Post Banner Month for Home Sales

Real Estate: Santa Clarita sees a 16.3% gain in transactions, while San Fernando has the best September since 1989.


September traditionally ushers in a slow period in real estate, but not this year and not in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, an industry group said Monday.

The Santa Clarita Valley posted a 16.3% gain in housing sales in September compared with the same period last year, according to the Southland Regional Assn. of Realtors.

The San Fernando Valley had a gain of just 1.1% over last September, but the 1,096 homes that closed escrow gave 1998 the best September for sales since 1989, the association reported.

Santa Clarita posted a median resale price on single-family homes of $210,000, up 5.6% from the previous year.

In the San Fernando Valley, however, the single-family median resale price revealed a slight autumn slowdown. The $189,900 figure was up 12.4% over September 1997, but fell slightly compared with August 1998. The figure remains well short of the $245,000 median price recorded in November 1989.

Buyers, real estate brokers said, are making it clear they will not pay inflated prices.

"Even though we're in a seller's market, it's not driving prices up," said Bud Mauro, the president of the group of 6,000 Realtors. "Buyers are sophisticated enough that they're not going to get in a bidding situation. We have a lot of properties that sell at the listed price but very few that sell above the listed price."

But if that sounds sobering, Mauro had other, better news: He sees no end to this year's healthy sales.

Even if interest rates rise, they will still be among the lowest in the past two decades, he said.

What's more, he added, world events affecting the stock market and global economy have had little impact on local real estate.

"I don't see any of my buyers or sellers worried," Mauro said.

Short-term projections, based on open escrows, remain high, the association reported.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, the so-called pending sales were up a whopping 45.2% over a year ago, although down 5.7% from August.

The San Fernando Valley saw September's pending sales statistics rise 2.8% over the same period last year.

One of the few factors inhibiting sales is that the number of properties on the market remains low.

In the San Fernando Valley, although the number of homes on the market was up 3.6% from a year ago and 6.5% from August, the total number of available homes is considered low, at 5,994 listed properties, with single-family homes comprising more than 80% of the offerings.

Santa Clarita had an even tighter market, with 728 single-family homes and 276 condos up for sale, down 9.4% from a year ago.

Condominium sales, however, remained strong in September, up 2.7% from a year ago in the San Fernando Valley and a stunning 58.7% in Santa Clarita.

The median sale prices for condos were up even more. In Santa Clarita, the median resale price reached $128,500, up 13.8% from the same time last year. In the San Fernando Valley, the median price of $118,000 was up 24.2% from 1997.

"Condos tend to be one of the best bargains for first-time home buyers," Mauro said. "Also, if buyers are looking for a home in a lower price range and there's not enough inventory, they're going to look at the condominiums."


September Valley Home Sales


1998 Avg. Price: $229,700

1997 Avg. Price: $218,000

1998 home sales: 235


1998 Avg. Price: $319,700

1997 Avg. Price: $269, 600

1998 home sales: 233


1998 Avg. Price: $295, 800

1997 Avg. Price: $227, 100

1998 home sales: 173


1998 Avg. Price: $295, 200

1997 Avg. Price: $274, 800

1998 home sales: 270


1998 Avg. Price: $138,100

1997 Avg. Price: $128,000

1998 home sales: 185

Santa Clarita Home Boom

Southland home sales are generally up over last year, but they're especially strong in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Source: Southland Regional Assn. of Realtors

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