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How much does it cost to buy in the Valley?

“Not a lot of people are willing to sell their homes right now, and a lot of people want to buy”

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One of the upsides to buying in the Valley is that you can get more bang—which often translates to more land—for your buck. But it’s still going to cost a lot of bucks.

The median home price in June was $640,000, according to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors, which tracks sales data in the San Fernando Valley. That’s pretty high for Los Angeles County, where the median home price in June was $569,000, according to CoreLogic.

“Not a lot of people are willing to sell their homes right now, and a lot of people want to buy,” says Angel Garcia, a real estate agent with Granada Hills-based Park Regency Realty.

That explains why housing prices are skyrocketing back to pre-bubble levels this year in the Valley. March set a new high record of $671,500—well-above the previous record of $655,000 set prior to the recession in June 2007. That year, median prices averaged $610,000. Last year, it was $599,733. So far this year? $630,400.

Like the rest of the county, much of the blame for the Valley’s high prices can be placed on tight inventory—which can lead to intense competition.

Buyers who have the money, “they’re extremely motivated,” says Garcia.

They’re writing dear seller letters, offering above-asking prices, and bending to sellers’ timelines. In one extreme case, Garcia says he had a client pay for $10,000 in repairs to a property in Northridge before escrow even started.

“The appraiser had come out and said the property couldn’t even be appraised, because there are broken windows, there’s flooring missing this room. The bank wouldn’t have put a loan in on the property, because it was unsafe,” he says. “The seller didn’t want to do any of the repairs, so the buyer did it.”

To see how prices break down in two dozen Valley neighborhoods, we enlisted the help of Constantine Valhouli, who founded data analyst company NeighborhoodX. The chart below shows prices per square foot for homes on the market at the beginning of August.

According to Valhouli, the average asking price countywide right now is $417 per square foot, while the average price in the Valley is $384 per square foot. The average for the city of Los Angeles is $695 per square foot.

"To give a full picture of each neighborhood, we look at both the average asking price, as well as the price range," says Valhouli. "The average price is a good starting point, but the price range can offer more insight."

The price range in the chart below represents the lowest- and highest-priced properties in the neighborhood.