Home market still sluggish

Despite a tight real estate market that has seen buyers frustrated by the declining number of available homes for the past six months, prices haven't yet adjusted to the scarcity, further limiting the incentive for homeowners to sell, according to area real estate agents.

Roughly 60% as many homes were listed for sale in Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and nearby cities in September 2012 as were on the market the previous September, but average sale prices across the board are lower than they were a year ago, according to figures compiled by Glendale-based Keller Williams agent Keith Sorem.

“The biggest problem is we just don't have enough houses to sell right now,” said Paula Walker, a Teles Properties agent in Pasadena. “There's not a lot of inventory, and there are a lot of people interested in owning [a house].”

Although Pasadena saw a 10% increase in homes for sale between August and September, La Cañada Flintridge, South Pasadena and San Marino all saw decreases of 10% or more during the same period.

Walker said that although buyers are plenty, homes priced at $1.1 million or more aren't being bought as quickly as more modestly priced homes.

“It's interesting, because it looks like [there are] a lot of buyers because there's so little inventory. But do we have as many buyers as we have in a real healthy market? Maybe not,” she said.

Prices in La Cañada Flintridge and San Marino have stabilized in a strong position as the current lack of inventory continues, but the same effect has yet to take hold in Pasadena or South Pasadena.

In La Cañada, the average sale price of the 20 homes sold in September was $1.2 million, according to Sorem, compared with $1.07 million a year earlier.

In Pasadena, the average sale price was $724,000, up from the $665,000 average a year ago. But it is the lowest price since January, and down from $733,000 last month. Only 181 Pasadena homes were listed for sale in August, compared with 293 a year ago.

In South Pasadena, where only 11 homes sold in August, the average price was $908,000, compared with $975,000 a year earlier.

In San Marino, 14 homes sold for an average of $1.46 million, compared with $1.48 million in September 2011.

“Price appreciation is a bit of a slow go over time in terms of when we're going to see significant changes,” Walker said. “We still have plenty of room for upward growth.”

Doug Drummond, a Realtor with Homes by Drummond affiliated with Kobeissi Properties, said prices had stabilized in La Cañada, but because of uncertainty about the market, residents not in financial need weren't making the lateral moves that used to open up many sales.

“Many people don't have to sell their house,” he said. “The majority of the sellers now are people who are retiring, or are downsizing because the kids have moved out. That's our marketplace.”

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