Home Sales Jump 22%; Median Price Increases 7%


A seller’s market and El Nino-fueled storms haven’t dampened home buyers’ enthusiasm, according to figures released Friday. Sales in Ventura County leaped more than 22% in March, and prices rose 7% over the same time last year.

A total of 1,083 homes were bought last month throughout the county, compared to 883 in March 1997, according to a report by the La Jolla-based research firm Acxiom/DataQuick.

The median price went from $197,000 to $211,000.

“People are gaining confidence in the economy and they are more secure in their jobs, so they are willing to go out and make long-term commitments,” said Bob Majorino, owner of Prudential California Realty in Thousand Oaks.


One Thousand Oaks area showed the largest increase in home sales, 191%, and the second-biggest jump in median price, 34% from $258,000 to $345,000. On the city’s south side, 35 homes were snapped up last month versus 12 last year.

Fillmore had the largest increase in median price at 41%, from $117,000 to $165,000.

“The stock market has gotten a little bit doubtful and money has a tendency to go back and forth between the stock and real estate market,” Majorino said. “Real estate has regained in favor as an investment as well as for housing purposes.”

Other factors that bolstered sales were continued job growth, interest rates as low as 7%, varying types of home loans and a heavy demand for single-family homes, real estate agents said.


The second-best showing was in Santa Paula, where 24 homes were purchased in March versus 11 a year ago, making for a sales jump of 118%.

“We are a little bit lower in price than, say, Ventura,” said Ofelia Delatorre, who co-owns Glenn City Real Estate in Santa Paula. The median home price there dropped from $162,000 to $151,000.

Delatorre and other agents agreed that a shortage of homes is on the horizon because not enough new homes are being built.

“There will always be properties to sell but there may not be enough of a selection,” said Linda Freeny, owner of California Oaks Realtors in Ventura.


In Ventura, home sales on or near Ventura Avenue and in the downtown area accounted for the third-largest jump, nearly 70%. Despite a median price increase of $20,000, to $180,000, 39 homes were sold in that area last month versus 23 at the same time last year.

“Renters are becoming homeowners,” Freeny said. “Interest rates are low and there are a lot of loan programs.”

Freeny and other agents said it is a seller’s market, so buyers are being forced to be prepared when they go shopping and to be ready to bid and buy.

Unlike a couple of years ago, when a dozen homes might be available in a price range, today’s buyer probably has only three or four options, agents said.


Homes being resold accounted for the majority of the sales, more than 75% in most communities, followed by townhomes and then new homes, agents said.

Theresa Berenger, owner of Realty Executives in Simi Valley and past president of the Simi Valley-Moorpark Assn. of Realtors, said many people in the last quarter decided to move into new, bigger homes in housing developments, which helped spur resales.

Berenger predicted a continuing rise in housing costs and decrease in selection.

“Buyers are becoming educated to the facts--they can no longer low-ball a price, because there are multiple offers on almost every property,” Berenger said.


In Moorpark, there was a 53% increase in home sales, from 45 to 69, and a 10% decrease in the median price, from $245,000 to $219,000. In nearby Simi Valley, there was a 41% increase in home sales, from 89 to 126, and a 4% increase in median price, from $192,000 to $200,000.

As to other predictions, townhome sales will climb in the next few months because the price of single-family homes is expected to increase, agents said.


Ventura County House Sales



March ’97 March ’97 March ’98 March ’98 Number Average Number Average City/ZIP Code of sales price of sales price CAMARILLO 93010 61 $196,000 69 $222,000 93012 44 $200,000 63 $216,000 FILLMORE 93015 10 $117,000 14 $165,000 MOORPARK 93021 45 $245,000 69 $219,000 OAK PARK 91301 12 $263,000 40 $283,000 OJAI 93023 26 $204,000 23 $207,000 OXNARD 93030 94 $187,000 71 $171,000 93033 32 $128,000 40 $133,000 93035 36 $197,000 48 $203,000 PORT HUENEME 93041 24 $106,000 28 $117,000 SANTA PAULA 93060 11 $162,000 24 $151,000 SIMI VALLEY 93063 76 $176,000 75 $189,000 93065 89 $192,000 126 $200,000 THOUSAND OAKS 91320 66 $255,000 74 $250,000 91360 60 $209,000 67 $232,000 91361 12 $258,000 35 $345,000 91362 82 $301,000 75 $333,000 VENTURA 93001 23 $160,000 39 $180,000 93003 51 $157,000 58 $188,000 93004 25 $177,000 41 $176,000 COUNTYWIDE *883 $197,000 1083 $211,000


*Some ZIP codes cross into Los Angeles County, so totals may include homes sold there.


Source: Acxiom / DataQuick Information Systems.