Median home prices in Ventura County soared to a record $244,000 in June, beating a decade-old high set during Southern California's short-lived housing boom.
The record price, up 11.4% from the median in June 1998, topped a $241,000 high set in March 1989, according to a report released Wednesday that credits strong sales, solid economic growth and increased demand.
"I think there's still some room for this market to grow," said analyst John Karevoll of Acxiom/DataQuick, publisher of the report that includes new and resale homes and condominiums. "It took a long time--10 years--to surpass the old peak and I think this new level more accurately reflects what's going on."
Expanded sales--1,572 homes changed hands in Ventura County last month--were up more than 10% compared with the previous June. Many analysts believed then the market had already neared its limit.
"There is still a lot of activity and a lot of appreciation," Karevoll said, adding that most sales were clustered in Oxnard, Simi Valley and Ventura.
Ventura homeowners in the 93003 ZIP Code saw sales increase nearly 57% as 94 homes sold, while the median price bolted up 31.5%, to $242,000. In the city's 93001 ZIP Code, the median price increased nearly 26%--to $224,000--and there was an 11% increase in sales.
Sales in Oxnard's 93033 ZIP Code rose 23% as 69 homes sold, with prices inching up about 5%, to $156,000.
Similar increases occurred in Simi Valley's 93065 ZIP Code, where a 24% jump in sales was recorded and the median price of the 195 homes sold was $253,000, up 12%.
On a percentage basis, the greatest sales hike occurred in Port Hueneme, where 59% more homes sold, though the median price of $147,000 was up only 6.5%.
In contrast, some communities posted either modest increases or slight declines from last year's sales level.
One additional home sold in Thousand Oaks' 91362 ZIP Code, for a total of 106, as median prices in the community grew a solid 17% to $373,000. In the city's upscale 91361 ZIP Code, sales were down more than 12%, a drop some analysts say may be linked to a 36% increase in price, to a median of $405,000.
Sales in Moorpark fell nearly 33%, and in Santa Paula the sales activity was down 35%.
For most of 1999, median home prices in the county have hovered within a few thousand dollars of the 1989 record.
Although recent median prices have been higher than those recorded in the months before the bottom fell out of the Southern California real estate market 10 years ago, analysts said current prices very likely will remain strong at least through the end of the year.
Agents at Fred Sands Brown Realty in Westlake Village say they are frequently putting the "Sold" sign on properties, as summer is traditionally the industry's busiest time. And the sales pace in the Conejo Valley area has been staggering, they said.
"I haven't noticed any reticence on the part of buyers," Brown Vice President Kathy Mehringer said. "The economy is great and I get the sense that people are buying homes not because they're investments, but because they're places to live. And because of that, price isn't going to be as important in making that decision to buy."
Analysts say a number of factors are fueling property sales: continued economic expansion, low mortgage rates, more people buying homes for the long-term and numerous home-loan options. Also, affordable mortgage rates and financing packages have taken much of the sting out of rising home costs.
A major home lender in Simi Valley, for instance, offers 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages for 7.875%, and 15-year loans for 7.58%. Also, the company gives buyers the option to refinance their mortgages within a few years after purchase.
Although some economists and analysts had predicted a cooling of both the economy and home sales, there is no sign of slowing.
Unemployment remains at near-record lows and the economy continues to grow about 3% a year, both supporting a demand for residential real estate.
"Things are good and when things are good you see a real estate market like this," UC Santa Barbara economist Mark Schniepp said. "People are working, they're making money and they're confident. . . . I wouldn't expect this to stop soon."
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Ventura County House Sales
June 1998 June 1999 Number Median Number Median City/ZIP Code of sales price of sales price CAMARILLO 93010 88 $217,000 111 $250,000 93012 97 $230,000 108 $278,000 FILLMORE 93015 13 $120,000 12 $148,000 MOORPARK 93021 89 $218,000 60 $266,000 OAK PARK 91377 (formerly 91301) OAK VIEW 93022 13 $200,000 16 $210,000 OJAI 93023 38 $218,000 36 $241,000 OXNARD 93030 89 $171,000 85 $196,000 93033 56 $138,000 69 $156,000 93035 58 $200,000 56 $200,000 PORT HUENEME 93041 32 $138,000 51 $147,000 SANTA PAULA 93060 37 $153,000 24 $184,000 SIMI VALLEY 93063 104 $206,000 123 $224,000 93065 157 $225,000 195 $253,000 THOUSAND OAKS 91320 94 $263,000 113 $317,000 91360 106 $233,000 104 $262,000 91361 41 $297,000 36 $405,000 91362 105 $318,000 106 $373,000 VENTURA 93001 45 $178,000 50 $224,000 93003 60 $184,000 94 $242,000 93004 49 $204,000 42 $234,000 COUNTYWIDE 1,418 $219,000 1,572 $244,000
Source: Acxiom / DataQuick Information Systems