Home sales still in the doldrums

The dwindling number of houses up for sale is still impacting the local real estate market as the number of condominiums on the market plummeted by 70% last month compared to March 2011, according to the latest figures.

There were only 50 condos for sale last month, a sharp drop from 166 in March 2011, according to statistics compiled by Realtor Keith Sorem with Keller Williams of Glendale.

Single-family homes fared a little better. There were 134 homes on the market last month, a 44.5% decline from 241 the same period last year.

The low housing inventory is creating a frenzy among buyers who are trying to snatch up houses because interest rates are low and median prices have been declining, which results in greater housing affordability, said Shannon Cistulli, president of the Glendale Assn. of Realtors.

The National Assn. of Realtors noted that homes haven’t been this affordable since 1970.

Some homeowners who must move are opting to vacate their homes and rent them until the real estate market picks up again, said Cistulli, who is also branch manager of Dilbeck Real Estate in Glendale.

Fewer homes on the market also means more sellers are getting multiple offers, she added.

Meanwhile, median sale prices for homes and condos continued to tumble in March.

The median price for a single-family home dropped from $670,000 in March 2011 to $572,000 last month. Condos saw their median price edge down from $283,000 in March of last year to $253,000 last month.

The ratio of distressed sales compared to total sales continued to be more than one-third, coming in at around 40% last month compared to almost 42% during March 2011.

“The big question is, ‘What happens next?’” Sorem said.

More housing inventory can basically come from two sources, he said.

One source would be banks, which would begin putting more houses up for sale either through foreclosures or short sales.

The other source would be homeowners, but many are waiting to place their houses on the market until they see signs of economic improvement, Sorem said, adding that one strong indicator of that would be lower unemployment figures.

In La Cañada, the median price of a home dropped to $900,000 last month, compared to almost $1.2 million in March 2011.

The number of homes for sale decreased by about 35.5%, from 104 in March 2011 to 67 last month. Twenty-one homes sold last month, an improvement from 16 in March 2011.

In the La Crescenta-Montrose area, housing inventory took a nosedive, falling by almost 65% from 128 homes in March of last year to 45 last month.

The median price declined slightly to $525,000 last month, compared to $573,000 in March 2011.

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