Real estate prices fall

The residential real estate market this spring has been as busy as it was last year, even without the $8,000 federal tax incentive, giving local agents hope amid falling prices.

In Glendale, the number of homes sold in March grew by 50% to 84, compared with 56 at the same time last year, according to statistics from Keller Williams agent Keith Sorem. Glendale homeowners listed 290 properties in March, compared with 257 a year earlier.

In Burbank, 69 homes sold compared with 71 a year earlier, and 230 homes were listed compared with 212 at the same time last year.

Sorem said he saw the activity as a positive sign because last spring’s market was stimulated by a federal homebuyer tax credit of $8,000 that expired in the summer.

“Even with the soft economy, the market seems to be chugging along OK,” Sorem said.

But home values are not recovering. While the average price for a Glendale home sold in March was $512,000, up from $466,000 a year ago, the price per square foot fell by $15, from $298 to $283.

In Burbank, the average sale price in March was $477,000, down from $494,000 a year ago. The price per foot dipped also from $323 to $320, according to Sorem.

Mixed economic news on key factors such as unemployment and interest rates, as well as the continuing flow of foreclosed homes into the marketplace, are keeping the housing market in check, according to experts.

“We’re in a little bit of a holding pattern,” said Paul Habibi, a real estate professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

The figures are part of a national trend. The Case-Shiller index, a widely watched barometer of the industry, reported Monday that home values fell 4.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010, with another 3% slip predicted before prices begin to recover later this year.

Caleb Gonzalez, co-owner of VonKeith Properties in Burbank, said reputations for good schools, public services and ties to the relatively robust media industry in both cities are factors bolstering the local market.

“There is a little bit of slowness as far as pricing,” Gonzalez said. “But if it is a great house and well maintained, it is going to move.”

In March, the average sale price in La Crescenta/Montrose was $506,000, down from $579,000 a year earlier, according to Sorem, with the price per square foot falling from $340 to $310.

In La Cañada Flintridge, where 11 homes sold in March, the average price rose from $1.28 million to $1.32 million, with the price per square foot up from $432 to $441.
 
 

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