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Housing Sales Approach Record, But Prices Drop

Times Staff Writer

More houses and condominiums were sold in the San Fernando Valley in August than in any month since 1979, but the average cost of both types of residences fell slightly below record prices set in July, the San Fernando Valley Board of Realtors reported Monday.

Some 2,174 houses and condominiums were sold in August, the first time since the 1970s that monthly sales surpassed the 2,000 mark, and it marks the highest total since May, 1979, when 2,193 residences were sold.

“August is always a busy month,” said Chuck Lamb, senior partner of the Century 21 Lamb Group in Northridge. “This year, the demand for housing has been very high because while interest rates are good, they’ve started creeping up. People want to get into a house before they go up any more.”

The average price of a single-family house in August was $257,100, down 3% from the record of $265,300 set in July. Sales of houses rose to 1,648 in August, up 10% from the 1,495 houses sold in July and 34% from the 1,230 houses sold in August, 1987.

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The average price of a Valley condominium in August was $128,100, down 4% from the record $133,000 price in July. There were 526 condominiums sold in August, an increase of 20% from the 440 condos sold in July and 70% from the 309 condos sold in August, 1987.

Not surprisingly, the areas with the lowest prices showed the biggest percentage jump in sales gains in August. In the San Fernando and Sun Valley areas, sales increased 34% to 366 residences in August compared to 273 in July. The area had the lowest average residential price in the Valley at $131,900.

“Those areas still offer affordable housing,” said Fred Sands, president of Fred Sands Realtors. “There is a great demand by first-time home-buyers for anything that is affordable.”

In the meantime, realtors said many Valley homeowners have apparently decided to cash in on the appreciation their homes have enjoyed in the last two years and either trade up to a more expensive house or move elsewhere.

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In August there were 7,374 residences for sale, a 5% increase from July and a 23% jump from the 6,011 residences available in August, 1987.

The biggest surge in listings came in valley’s two most expensive areas: the southwest area, including Woodland Hills and Canoga Park, and the southeast valley, including North Hollywood and Studio City.

A total of 840 residences were listed for sale in the southeast valley, up 19% from July. Another 591 residences were listed in the southwest area last month, an increase of 36% from July. “There is plenty of profit-taking going on,” Lamb said.

The Valley realty board, California’s largest, reports sales by its members in the area from North Hollywood to Agoura. Its statistics do not include most new residences or homes sold by their owners.

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