The San Fernando Valley’s housing market roared to life in October, with sales surging 25 percent from a year ago and the median price increasing 10 percent.
It looks like the rebound has morphed into more than a mirage, too.
Since April, sales have increased by more than 10 percent from a year earlier every month except September, according to the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at California State Univeristy, Northridge.
Last month, 1,510 new and previously owned houses and condominiums changed owners, an increase of 305 from October 2011 and 223 more than in October 2012.
Economist William W. Roberts, the center’s director, said that September was an anomaly and that the 2012 market should end on a strong note.
“I think we’ll see decent numbers in November and December,” Roberts said. “Twelve months ago the market was a bit artificial because the government stimulus had stopped and the market wasn’t going much of anywhere. Now it’s more of a traditional market.”
CSUN’s report, based on statistics from market tracker DataQuick, said sales were up in all areas from Glendale through Calabasas.
The increases ranged from 8.5 percent in the foothills south of Ventura Boulevard to 41 percent in the Northwest Valley.
Wendy Silver-Hale, president of the Van Nuys-based Southland Regional Association of Realtors, said that the market’s surge started in February.
“Now we are at the point where the greatest percentage of sales are equity sales. The (foreclosures) have been drying up,” she said.
Last month, foreclosures fell 21 percent to 294 properties from 371 a year earlier. There were 20 more foreclosures in October than in September.
But the number of mortgage holders falling seriously behind in their loan payments plunged 49 percent.
Last month lenders issued 560 notices of default on Valley properties, down from 1,111 in October 2011. And there were 20 fewer notices issued in October than September.
During the market slump in the 1990s, foreclosures averaged about 600 a quarter for about three years after hitting bottom in 1996, Roberts said.
The Valley is closer to the end of that trend now than the beginning.
“Assuming that housing recovery follows the late 1990s trend and with continuing high unemployment, we expect foreclosures to continue between 200 and 300 per month through most of next year,” Roberts said.
The median price of a previously owned house in October was $391,500, up from $355,000 in October 2011. It was down from $402,750 in September.
Prices seem to have stabilized, Roberts said, and have been been bouncing up and down for about five months.
The bottom for this cycle was $347,500 in March of 2009.
Realtor Silver-Hale said that near-record low inventory is helping drive prices up. And buyers are entering the market.
“It seems that people have finally gotten the message that this is really the best time to buy even with prices going up. They have realized we’ve kind of hit the bottom,” she said.