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Home Sales Drop in October

Real estate: Despite a 9.7% decline since September, more Valley houses were sold and the median price rose 6.9%, over a year ago.


The median price of a San Fernando Valley home retreated 3% in October and sales tumbled 9.7%, a real estate trade group reported Monday.

Even so, some local real estate brokers said they were encouraged by October housing figures, which topped levels from the same month a year ago and rose despite the Sept. 11 terror attacks and a seasonal slowdown in real estate.

The monthly survey by the Southland Regional Assn. of Realtors found that sales for single-family homes rose 5.3% to 1,013, from 962 in October 2000. Median home prices increased 6.9% in October compared with the same period last year.

"The good news here is that this October was stronger than last October," said Jim Link, executive vice president of the association. "If you look at historical trends, the market remains strong."

Continued demand and falling mortgage interest rates could help the Valley housing market remain steady, if not strong, in the coming months, analysts said. But the effect of the terrorist attacks on the state and national economy, as well as the war in Afghanistan, was cause for concern, they said.

One of the weak points in the last half of the year has been erosion in "luxury homes," or homes valued at more than $1 million, industry officials said. Analysts said falling prices for high-end housing have helped drive down the median--the mark at which half the homes sold for more and half for less--in the last two months.

Four straight months of record prices reached a zenith in August when the median price reached an all-time high of $275,000. The nadir of $155,000 came in November 1995 and again in February 1997, resulting from the recession and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Still, median prices in October fell only 3% to $262,000, from $270,000 in September. During the same period, home sales declined 9.7%.

In the condominium market, median prices were 15.9% higher than last year, rising from $138,000 to $160,000. But sales dipped 6.8% from a year ago.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, home sales dropped 10.5% from the end of September through October but were 9.6% above the same period in 2000.

Last month, 229 single-family homes changed hands. The median price in the area fell marginally from $275,000 in September to $272,000 in October, but was up 11.2% over the same period last year.

The median condominium price in the Santa Clarita Valley was $156,000, up 1.2% from September. It remained 8.2% higher than the year before.

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