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Valley Median Home Price Again Tops Record

Housing: Cost rises 1.9% over May to $265,000. Increase is attributed partly to economy.

July 17, 2001|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The median cost of a single-family home in the San Fernando Valley hit $265,000 in June, setting a record high for the second consecutive month, a real estate trade group reported Monday.

Resale prices rose 1.9% over May's median of $260,000 and more than 10% above June 2000's median, according to a monthly report issued by the Southland Regional Assn. of Realtors. The median is the price at which half the homes sold for more and half for less.

The new numbers mark the third time since 1989 that the Valley housing market has eclipsed the median price record--the last two months and August 2000.

At their nadir, median prices tumbled to $155,000 in November 1995 and February 1997 because of a statewide recession and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

This year, low interest rates and a strong buying period during the spring and summer months attracted more buyers amid low housing inventories, which served to pump up prices, industry officials said.

"This is a pattern that we have seen over the last two years as the Los Angeles County economy has been growing in tandem with migration and income growth," said Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist for the California Assn. of Realtors.

"The favorable mortgage rate environment has also provided a strong incentive to get into the Valley housing market," she said.

Despite price increases, Appleton-Young noted that the Valley median is far lower than those of Orange and San Diego counties, where the going median rate for single family homes is $353,481 and $301,185, respectively.

The continued spike in home sales, which increased 1.3% in June, also illustrates the resiliency of the local market, experts said. In June, some 1,263 homes changed hands, up from 1,247 during the previous month, the report said. Those numbers represent a nearly 25% jump in the last two months and a 7.9% increase from the same period last year.

The advances come despite worries about the impact of higher energy prices and an economic slowdown that could stretch into next year.

Sales of Valley condominiums, a draw for those priced out of the single family home market, edged up 1.3% in June to 469 units sold, after falling 5.7% in May, according to the report.

Condo sales in June were 8.2% above the same period last year; the median value was $151,500, slightly below the record high of $154,000 set in September 1991 and again in March 1992.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, home sales rose 10.8% in June and 38.3% over the same period last year. The median price of a single-family home rose 3.4% in June to a record $274,000.

Appleton-Young said the continued rise in home prices in both the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valley markets could portend trouble for the California economy in the long term because of a lack of affordable housing.

Otherwise, she said, "I don't think there's anything wrong with this market. Southern California is reaping the benefits of not participating in the dot-com hyper-boom. And as long as we avoid a national recession, we should come out of this pretty well."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Home Sales

The median cost for a new single-family home sold in the San Fernando Valley eclipsed highs for the second straight month, hitting $265,000 in June, more than 10% above the same month last year.

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