Buyers vie for far fewer homes listed compared to a year ago, pushing up prices

Homes sales in Glendale picked up in December, with high demand for the few homes on the market leading to an increase in median home prices, according to the latest real estate report.

The median price for a single-family home rose roughly 15% from $540,000 in December 2011 to $620,000 last month, according to statistics compiled by Realtor Keith Sorem with Keller Williams Realty in Glendale.

The increase continues a trend seen over the past several months in which a smaller number of homes on the market drives up the prices of those that sell.

There were 55 single-family homes sold last month, an uptick from the 52 sold in December 2011. The number of condominiums sold climbed significantly, however, from 29 to 41, a 41% increase in a year-to-year comparison..

Realtor Sevan Sean Baroni with Dilbeck Real Estate in Glendale said so few homes are on the market that he received about 30 offers on a home that went up for sale in Glendale last month.

“I think that we’ve crossed a point [where] ... sellers need to gain confidence to put their homes on their market,” Baroni said.

The median price for condos also rose, from $238,000 in December 2011 to $296,000 last month, a roughly 25% jump.

The number of condos for sale dropped drastically, however, taking an almost 72% dive from 96 in December 2011 to only 27 last month. The number of single-family homes on the market fared somewhat better, with 70 on the market last month compared to 122 a year earlier, a 43% drop.

Baroni also said inventory has stayed low partially because banks are holding on to foreclosed properties, most likely to avoid slowing the market’s recovery.

“I think if the banks had any idea of releasing a lot of inventory at once, the market will soften again,” he said. “It’s not like we have a lot of buyers — buyers are normal. We just don’t have a lot of sellers.”

Distressed sales, which include bank-owned properties, made up 25% of total sales last month, according to Sorem’s report. Distressed sales also include short sales, where lenders let homeowners sell their homes for less than they owe on their mortgages.

In the La Crescenta-Montrose area, there were 18 single-family homes on the market, a 70% drop from 61 for sale in December 2011. Twenty-eight homes sold last month, five more than a year ago.

The median price dropped to $550,000, from $575,000 in December 2011.

There were two condos sold and five on the market in La Crescenta last month, down from 25 condos for sale and four homes sold a year ago.

In La Cañada Flintridge, the number of single-family homes on the market declined to 26, a 46% drop, but the number of homes sold increased by 75% to 21.

The median price rose to just over $1.2 million.

Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.

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