January Home, Condo Sales Off Slightly, but Prices Continue to Rise

Times Staff Writer

Home and condominium prices in the San Fernando Valley continued their climb in January, but the number of properties sold was down from the record-breaking tally in December, the Valley Board of Realtors said.

The board, which tracks resales of homes and condominiums, said the average single-family home in January sold for $184,500 in the Valley, up 13% from a year ago and up $500 from December, even though fewer homes were sold. January home sales totaled 972, contrasted with 1,106 in December.

The previously dormant condo market continued its moderate rebound. In January the average condo sold for $114,000, up from $110,900 a year ago and $108,300 in December. Realtors sold 216 condos in January, versus 248 in December and 140 a year ago.

Busy 1987 Predicted

"The market is still very hot," said board president Steve Raynor. "Changes in the tax law combined with low mortgage-interest rates probably triggered the unusually active December. But, if January is a reliable indicator, 1987 already is building toward an even busier year than 1986."

He added that the biggest problem is a shortage of homes for sale. The realtors had an inventory of only 4,458 homes for sale in January, off 13.4% from a year ago. On the other hand, the inventory of condos for sale totaled 1,730, up 10.4% from a year ago.

Indeed, "open house," a Sunday ritual in which potential buyers can visit homes that are for sale and are open for viewing, seems to be off sharply from past months in some neighborhoods. One realtor said he was so eager to find properties for sale that he is combing tax records in search of delinquent homeowners who might want to sell.

Video Listing Service

The board also announced that it had adopted a video listing service using laser technology similar to that used for compact-disc recordings. The new system, consisting of a computer and a video-disc reader, will permit home buyers to view homes and condos that meet their criteria for price, location, size, architecture, etc., without leaving the realtor's office.

Homes that a given buyer might find of interest can be sorted quickly by computer, and the new system will include all the residences listed on the Multiple Listing Service, the joint listings maintained by the board of all homes listed with Valley realtors.

The board is buying the video listing service from the McDonnell Douglas Electronics Co. of Huntington Beach and says it hopes to have the system running by this summer.

The system uses a laser film that permits 32,000 photos to be stored on a single disc. It also permits cheap duplication for the board's 8,100 members, and will be updated weekly, the board said.

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