Valley home prices hit highest level in 8 years, but sales are flat

Valley home prices hit highest level in 8 years, but sales are flat…

After spiking two months ago, homes sales in the San Fernando Valley flattened out during April, but the median price still hit its highest level in eight years, a trade group said Thursday.

Last month the median price of a previously owned home increased 7 percent from a year earlier to $555,000 and rose $18,500 from March, said the Van Nuys-based Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

It’s the first time since 2007 the price has been above $550,000, the association said. But prices began flattening out in May of last year after a long run of double-digit year-over-year gains.

“That suggests the pace of price increases is slowing, which would be welcome news to prospective home buyers,” said association president Gaye Rainey.

The April median was 15 percent below the record $655,000 set in June 2007.

Last month there were 543 homes sales, three fewer than a year earlier and six more than in March.

The condominium median price last month increased 12 percent from a year ago to $350,000, the highest in eight years, the association said. The condo price is 16 percent below its record high of $415,000 hit in February 2006.

Condo sales were flat in April, totaling 181 units, two less than a year earlier. Sales rose 8 percent from 167 in March.

Sales and prices continue to react to a familiar nemesis: scant inventory.

At the end of last month the number of homes and condos listed for sale had dipped 3.5 percent from a year earlier to 1,543 properties, the association said. That’s just a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace. A six-month supply would create a balanced market in which neither buyer nor seller holds an advantage.

“The lack of supply limits sales. Even though the April inventory hit its highest level in five months, it still is not enough to satisfy demand,” said association CEO Jim Link. “As resale prices rise, affordability becomes an issue for buyers, even with interest rates still extremely low.”

One reason prices continue to make gains is there is strong activity in the upper price ranges, but sales taper off at less expensive price points, the association said.

That’s because foreclosure sales and short sales have been flushed through the market.


Michael Jackson’s Neverland property on sale for $100M

Michael Jackson’s Neverland property on sale for $100M

The Santa Ynez Valley property that once served as the late pop star’s home and personal fantasyland is being listed at $100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The 2,700-acre ranch featuring a train station, six-bedroom house and 50-seat movie theater has been in limbo since Jackson’s death in 2009.

Jackson paid $19.5 million for the property in 1988 and rechristened it Neverland after Peter Pan’s island dwelling.

The real estate company Colony Capital LLC bailed out Jackson in 2008 after he defaulted on the $24.5 million that he owed on the property.

Jackson distanced himself from Neverland after his 2005 acquittal on charges that he molested children at the ranch and opted to live elsewhere.