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Massive Gas Leak Hasn't Affected Home Sales in Porter Ranch

Buyers don't seem too concerned by methane clouds or oil spots

Since the Southern California Gas Company finally plugged a leak at a storage facility near Porter Ranch last month, residents of the area have been battling with the company to delay a deadline to move back into their homes until the air quality is satisfactorily tested and deemed safe. Meanwhile the gas company is bracing for a series of potential lawsuits stemming from the release of large amounts of the carcinogenic chemical benzene in what is now believed to be the worst methane leak in U.S. history. None of that seems to have deterred prospective homebuyers, however, according to an analysis from the John Graff Real Estate Group.

Graff found that the housing markets in Northridge and Chatsworth, the two areas most affected by the leak, held steady with other areas of the San Fernando Valley even as nausea-inducing amounts of methane were pouring into the atmosphere. Since the first of the year, in fact, the number of days houses spend on the market in both areas has actually dropped.

Lest you think this is due to worried homeowners quickly selling off their houses for peanuts, the data shows that median price per square foot has held steady for most of the year--actually increasing slightly in Chatsworth since January. Meanwhile, the median percent of last list price measure is higher than it was at this time last year in both Northridge and Chatsworth.

The healthy housing market is good news for Porter Ranch residents who certainly haven't had much of that lately. It also suggests that buyers are not being scared off by any of the reported residual effects of the leak.