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County Home Sales Surge 12% in 1994

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Home sales for 1994 in Ventura County jumped 12% from a year earlier, but prices remained soft as the region continued to crawl out of the recession, a new report shows.

“The economy is getting better,” said UC Santa Barbara economist Mark Schniepp. “But the recovery is very uneven.”

The 9,919 homes sold made 1994 the best year since 1989, said Nima Nattagh, an analyst with TRW-REDI Property Data, which released the report.

“This has been the trend throughout California,” Nattagh said. “The economy is in much better shape.”

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Still, the county’s home sales remained far below the 1989 level, when 13,974 houses sold at an average price of $259,642. The average last year was $229,893, down from $234,381 in 1993, when 8,845 homes sold. Nattagh predicted that prices would remain as low in 1995 as they were last year because a number of foreclosed homes are still on the market.

“Foreclosed properties sell at a deep discount,” he said. “It acts as a pressure on the market.”

Schniepp agreed.

“Banks are trying to recoup their investment,” which can lead to discounts as large as 20% on some homes, he said.

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Despite the soft prices, real estate agents throughout the region agreed that the market has its worst days behind it and they anticipate higher numbers in 1995.

“There are a lot of buyers out there,” said Mary Hall, president of the Conejo Valley Assn. of Realtors. “We have appeared to have bottomed out.”

The yearlong sales increase came despite a significant slowdown in home sales for the past three months. In December, 842 homes were sold compared to 931 a year ago. The average price also dropped from $232,084 in December, 1993, to $227,577 last month. That followed similar declines in October and November.

Schniepp said the three-month slump was due directly to interest rates, which the Federal Reserve Board raised six times in 1994.

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“As a result, sales really tailed off,” he said. “It was a good year for sales, but it still cooled significantly.”

Realtors, too, criticized Alan Greenspan and the Fed as interest rates on home loans neared the psychological double-figure barrier.

John Anderson, president of the Ventura Assn. of Realtors, said if rates go much higher than the current 9.25%, expect a continued decline in sales.

“One or two points makes a lot of difference in what kind of home you can qualify for,” he said. In November, 1993, home buyers could borrow $150,000 for about 6.75%, which Anderson said meant monthly payments of about $974. Today that same loan costs $1,235 a month.

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“That’s a difference between a $225,000 home and a $175,000 home,” he said.

But overall, Anderson and Hall said real estate sellers should be happy with 1994 when compared to 1993.

“We’ve been pretty pleased with the numbers,” Anderson said. “I think the bottoming out has occurred. The big decreases are over.”

Further, he said if interest rates remain steady, he expects this year to mirror 1994.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Ventura County House Sales December, 1993

City/ZIP code Number of sales Average price CAMARILLO 93010 59 $254,625 93012 40 $321,359 93066 2 $163,750 FILLMORE 93015 13 $156,885 MOORPARK 93021 84 $230,260 OAK VIEW 93022 5 $161,300 OJAI 93023 29 $294,089 OAK PARK 91301 40 $275,519 91304 1 $360,000 OXNARD 93030 82 $190,653 93033 26 $154,313 93035 44 $218,110 PORT HUENEME 93041 16 $156,233 SANTA PAULA 93060 28 $148,556 SIMI VALLEY 91307 4 $475,500 91311 1 $150,000 93063 74 $179,850 93065 111 $220,755 THOUSAND OAKS 91320 42 $255,583 91360 54 $205,072 91361 20 $363,972 91362 54 $356,500 VENTURA 93001 28 $192,096 93003 44 $229,574 93004 28 $212,483 COUNTYWIDE *931 $232,084 YEAR TOTALS 8,845 $234,381

*

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December, 1994

City/ZIP code Number of sales Average price CAMARILLO 93010 64 $218,597 93012 28 $248,643 93066 3 $352,500 FILLMORE 93015 18 $156,139 MOORPARK 93021 68 $220,345 OAK VIEW 93022 7 $140,714 OJAI 93023 11 $268,900 OAK PARK 91301 30 $255,833 91304 0 -- OXNARD 93030 61 $208,566 93033 33 $151,438 93035 33 $289,864 PORT HUENEME 93041 18 $137,250 SANTA PAULA 93060 24 $173,958 SIMI VALLEY 91307 5 $365,700 91311 0 -- 93063 60 $179,190 93065 85 $191,735 THOUSAND OAKS 91320 43 $243,407 91360 68 $229,105 91361 20 $385,500 91362 49 $361,031 VENTURA 93001 26 $269,654 93003 38 $194,629 93004 50 $227,839 COUNTYWIDE 842 $227,577 YEAR TOTALS 9,919 $229,893

* The ZIP codes for two houses bought in Ventura County were unavailable.

Source: TRW-REDI Property Data

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