Home prices gain on tight supplies

DOWNTOWN — First-time buyers and surging demand for low- to mid-priced properties propped up home prices across Glendale and Burbank, mirroring regional and state figures, real estate agents said.

Price trends across the cities remained on par with state and regional averages, which increased slightly in November, according to data released Tuesday by the Glendale Assn. of Realtors and MDA DataQuick, a San Diego-based real estate research firm.

Median home prices were up last month in Southern California by 1.8% to $285,000. It was the first time since September 2007 that the median didn’t drop from a year earlier in Southern California.

But while sales of new homes across the Southland rose unexpectedly in November, what is traditionally a down month, agents attributed at least some of the rise to a last-minute effort by first-time buyers to take advantage of an $8,000 federal tax credit, which has been expanded it to include a $6,500 credit for select buyers who already own a home.

“Given the economic conditions across the state, to be maintaining the pace of business I think is significant,” said Keith Sorem, a Glendale-based agent with Keller Williams Real Estate.

In Glendale, average home prices rose to $528,876 last month from $476,665 in October, according to i-Tech, composed of Glendale Assn. of Realtors members and the Pasadena Foothill Assn. of Realtors.

Burbank average sale prices took a slight hit at $471,455, down from $486,300 in October.

Low inventory has made for a feeding frenzy among buyers looking in the $500,000 range, said Dan Soderstrom, an agent for Dilbeck Realtors in Burbank.

“When you eliminate some of the stuff on busy streets or in bad shape, you don’t have a lot of inventory to show people,” he said. “To get back to more of a balanced market we need more inventory.”

The lack of homes coming on the market — even as aggressive buyers and investors taking advantage of low interest rates drive prices up by spurring bidding wars — is explained by homeowners who are in no rush to unload their properties, agents said.

“Discretionary sellers that are not over a barrel financially — someone that wants to sell but doesn’t have to — they’re holding off and consequently that’s why you’re not seeing inventory increase,” Soderstrom said. “Some of those people might be surprised given how much demand there is for quality product.”

Multiple offers on low- to mid-range homes has led to some selling above the natural market price, driving away some first-time buyers, agents said. At the same time, the sales of higher-range homes have remained steady or slowed due to the inability of some prospective buyers to secure loans.

If interest rates rise over the coming year as predicted, and lenders continue to tighten standards for buyers, downward pressure will fall on prices, Sorem said.

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