Home prices continue to sag

Home prices in Glendale and Burbank declined in April, part of a national trend as a slow-and-go economic recovery curbed buyers and so-called distressed properties continued to be a drag on the market.

The average price of a home sold in Glendale was $435,000 in April, 14% lower than the $506,000 price a year ago, according to data collected by Keller Williams’ Glendale agent Keith Sorem. Burbank saw a more modest decline from $490,000 in April, 2010 to $485,000 for the same period this year.

Nationally, a Case-Schiller report issued Tuesday found home prices fell 5.1% for the yearlong period ending March 2011, and they now are the same as they were in mid-2002.

Realtors said the national figures are not as important as Glendale and Burbank trends. The number of local homes sold and new listings in April were roughly the same as they were a year ago, according to Sorem. He said that is a sign that the market is stable.

Yet distressed homes — foreclosures or loan default properties — represent more than 40% of the listings in Glendale, and more than 30% of the market in Burbank.

The jobs picture is not improving quickly enough to give the market a positive jolt, Sorem said.

“As the economy sort of stagnates, there are people hanging on that won’t be able to hang on,” he said.

Elena Hubbell, an agent with Dilbeck in Burbank, said sellers have not fully adjusted to the fact that values are not as high as they hoped, while buyers are looking for bargains.

“People are hesitant. They are not sure about the economy,” she said. “[Bank-owned properties] and short sales have hurt the standard sales, no doubt about it.”

In La Crescenta and Montrose, the average price of a home dipped $560,000 to $538,000. And while the average sale price in La Cañada Flintridge jumped from $1.25 million in April 2010 to $1.42 million this year, the price per square foot fell in all four areas, according to the report.

Hubbell said Burbank and Glendale have advantages over nearby communities, including a relatively vigorous media economy and local control of schools, police and other services. Yet she and other agents expressed concern that interest rates may rise later this year, which will make it harder for buyers to finance purchases.

Addora Beall, a Prudential California Realty agent who specializes in Northwest Glendale, acknowledged the challenges, but said attractive homes in good condition are coming on the market and attracting solid offers.

“Things are starting to turn, but they are going to turn slowly,” Beall said. “We didn’t see this huge influx of bank foreclosures drop values, and I don’t think we will. I think by the end of next year we will see a positive change.”

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