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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Local housing market performing better than most.
The nation's housing meltdown has taken a heavy toll on the economy as hard-hit regions continue their slow climb out of the abyss.
The collapse of the subprime market resulted in waves of home foreclosures, job losses and a severe decline in home prices and sales.
But local Realtors say things are not nearly so bad in the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas.
There are the national numbers ... and San Gabriel Valley numbers. By and large, the San Valley is doing so much better than other parts of the country."
Florida, Arizona, Nevada and some parts of California - including the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley - are still being dragged down by a flood of foreclosures, Adams said, but the San Gabriel Valley is "coasting along pretty well."
That's not to say there aren't challenges ahead. Adams said 30 percent of the transactions his office handles are either REOs (bank-owned homes) or short sales. Still, those numbers used to be much higher.
"Relative to last year we're doing so much better," Adams said. "It's truly phenomenal."
He cited Glendora as a case in point. In August 2008, a total of 61 homes were sold in Glendora. A year later that dropped to 48 homes sold during the same month. In 2010 August sales increased to 50 homes sold, and this
year that number rose to 74. "Keep in mind that one month does not a market create," Adams said. "But the fact is, we're not seeing the doom and gloom that much of the rest of the country is."
Taken as a whole, the nation's housing market is still looking grim.
U.S. home sales sank to a 50-year low this spring and summer, hammered by a flagging economy and high unemployment.
Americans bought fewer new homes in the March-through-August stretch than at any other period since record keeping began half a century ago, and sales of existing homes were also dismal, the Commerce Department reported.
Those figures underscore how badly the housing market is faring and suggest that a recovery is years away. But James Joseph, owner of Century 21 Ambassador and Coldwell Banker Ambassador in Whittier, agrees things are looking much better locally.
"I think that a lot of this macro-economic news can be disheartening to buyers on the fence," Joseph said. "But we're further along in our recovery than other states are. The Midwest is just catching up to us."
Home prices in Los Angeles County continued to slide in August - the most recent month for which statistics are available - with the region's median price falling 1.3 percent to $312,900 compared with $317,000 in July.
But August sales were up 3.4 percent from July and up 1.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the California Association of Realtors.
Sales increases in San Bernardino County were far bigger. Home sales there rose 7.7 percent in August compared with July, and the region showed a yearly sales increase of 18.9 percent.
However, prices in that region are considerably lower than in L.A. County.
San Bernardino County's median home price topped out at $135,030 in August, up 0.8 percent from July but down 6.4 percent from a year earlier, CAR figures show.
Joseph said the low-priced inventory of available homes in the Whittier and San Gabriel Valley areas is active these days.
"They move fast, and if they're priced right we're getting multiple offers," he said. "But we have less of an inventory than we had six months ago or a year ago. Many sellers have taken their homes off the market. They're waiting for a better price."
Michelle Minch, owner of Moving Mountains Design & Home Staging in Pasadena, said she's getting good results these days.
"Almost everything we're staging is selling really quickly within the first couple of weeks," she said. "I staged a home in Arcadia that went into escrow within two weeks and it's set to close soon for $750,000. Houses are selling for less than they did in 2007 and the beginning of 2008, but we haven't been hit nearly as bad as the rest of the country."
Conditions are obviously not perfect. But current mortgage rates - which have now fallen lower than they were in the 1950s - will likley spur more people to buy.
On Thursday, Freddie Mac announced that the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.94 percent from 4.01 percent last week, the previous low. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinancing option, dipped to 3.26 percent, also a record.
"Anyone who doesn't know that now is the time to buy will look back on this period of history and say, `Darn, I wish I could have gotten on board," Adams said. "It's phenomenal."
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