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San Fernando Valley sees record-low home sales—even as prices drop

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February saw the fewest home sales of any month since 1985

San Fernando Valley street
Fewer than 300 houses sold in the San Fernando Valley during the whole month of February.
Photo by Liz Kuball

Homes in the San Fernando Valley are selling like the opposite of hotcakes lately.

In February, buyers purchased just 266 single-family houses in the entire region, according to a new report from the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. That’s the lowest number of sales recorded in any month since the organization began keeping track in 1985. It’s also the first time fewer than 300 houses in the area have sold during an entire month-long period.

Adding condos into the mix only brings up that total slightly—to 374 sales, down nearly 14 percent since a year ago.

Those low sale figures came in spite of a significant drop in prices. February’s median sale price for single-family homes was $657,000, down a whopping 6.1 percent since February 2018, and more than $50,000 below the area’s record-high price of $708,000, set in May of last year.

That’s only the third time home prices in the Valley have dropped year-over-year since the end of the Great Recession.

Condos sellers fared slightly better; February’s median sale price of $420,000 was up 2.4 percent since the same time last year.

The association’s CEO, Tim Johnson, says these unimpressive sale numbers leave buyers with some “interesting choices to make,” particularly given that mortgage interest rates (which can impact the size of a buyer’s monthly payments) have stayed relatively low in the early months of 2019.

In a statement, Johnson says that prices are still high enough to keep many would-be buyers out of the market, but that home shoppers may find that “sellers are more agreeable,” given the state of the area’s real estate market.

That’s because the drop in overall sales coincides with an increase in the total number of homes available for buyers to choose from. Last month, 1,186 homes and condos were listed for sale; that’s nearly a 24 percent uptick since February 2018.

Still, inventory in the region is downright minuscule compared to historical levels.

In August 2003, when the number of home sales peaked in the area, 1,780 condos and single-family houses changed hands. If every single unit listed in the Valley found a buyer in February, it wouldn’t have been enough to match that total.

Across all of Southern California, the real estate market has slowed since summer, when all-time price records fell month after month. At the beginning of the year, many experts predicted that trend would continue throughout 2019.