Home sales in Ventura County from January to April increased 15.3% over last year, continuing an upward trend in the real estate market, according to a report from TRW-REDI Property Data.
But more than half those sales were of existing homes costing under $175,000, leading one analyst to caution that the county's market is still far from the boom days of the late 1980s.
"This does bode well for the industry," said Nima Nattagh of TRW-REDI, which monitors monthly home sales. "But I don't think people should set their hopes too high that we'll be returning to the peak market of 1988."
Though Nattagh said a 15.3% increase was healthy, Ventura County didn't fare as well as other regions in Southern California. Home sales jumped nearly 35% in Orange County and 34% in Riverside County. Los Angeles County tied with Ventura, posting a 15.3% increase.
Shanon Wolf, president of the Simi Valley-Moorpark Assn. of Realtors, said area realtors have been selling almost exclusively to first-time buyers. She said buyers are mostly young families who intend to stay in the homes only three to five years.
"For them, this is not their dream home," Wolf said.
Almost 60% of sales in Simi Valley and Moorpark during April were of homes priced under $200,000, she said.
"The economy is improving and we're getting a lot of first-time buyers out," she said. "We're not sitting here complaining. But to be honest, talking among the other realtors, we're still seeing a decrease in property values."