Housing Market Cools Slightly in February

Times Staff Writer

Despite a slight cooling in February, the San Fernando Valley housing market continued to roar ahead compared to last year, with both prices and sales volume up strongly, the Valley Board of Realtors reported.

In fact, realtors say their biggest problem continues to be that they cannot get enough homes to sell. The inventory of single-family homes listed with realtors was up 6% from January, but at 4,735 houses was still 12% below a year ago.

Condominium listings continued their climb, to 1,831 units in February, but still did not make up for the shortage of homes for sale. Board officials said that for a balanced market, the combined inventory of homes and condos should be about 9,000 dwellings. At the end of February it was only 6,566.

The result is something of a sellers' market compared to early 1986, fueled mainly by the availability of low-cost mortgages.

"Interest rates are favorable," said Steve Raynor, realtors board president. "A recent survey showed an average 9.07% at 21 Valley savings and loan associations."

Valley realtors sold 904 homes in February for an average price of $183,400, up a whopping 18% from a year ago when 813 homes were sold. The February figure was down $1,100 from January, when 972 homes were sold.

Higher home prices, a shortage of homes for sale and favorable interest rates helped the condo market continue to rebound from its moribund state. Realtors sold 208 condo units in February. That was eight less than in January, but 64% more than in February a year ago.

The average condo price was $112,200, down $1,800 from January, but up $1,400 from a year ago.

The Valley board, California's largest realty board, reports sales of houses and condos by its 8,100 members in the area from North Hollywood to Agoura. Its statistics do not include most new residences, which are generally sold without a realtor, or existing homes that are sold by their owners. FEBRUARY VALLEY HOME SALES North East:

Avg. Price: $114,400

Sales: 148 South East:

Avg. Price: $181,200

Sales: 212 North Central:

Avg. Price: $191,500

Sales: 138 South Central:

Avg. Price: $195,500

Sales: 134 North West:

Avg. Price: $197,000

Sales: 52 South West:

Avg. Price: $216,145

Sales: 220

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