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San Fernando Valley Home Prices Soar, Foreclosure Activity Falls

Housing prices in the San Fernando Valley continued their hot streak in July, rising 27 percent from a year ago while a key measure of market distress retreated to 2006 levels, a research center said Thursday.

Last month the median price of a previously owned Valley house rose to $508,000 from $400,000 in July 2012, said the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at California State University, Northridge. The price dipped $7,000 from $515,000 in June.

Monthly fluctuations are normal and July’s numbers indicate the market, battered by the Great Recession, continues to mend, said economist William W. Roberts, the center’s director.

“The numbers are good but it will still take a while for people to feel comfortable that this is where the market is at,” he said of prices.

Prices are making big year-over-year gains because more expensive properties are selling and foreclosed properties are a much smaller factor now.

“My guess is that one-third of that (increase) is an actual price increase and two-thirds is the mix,” he said.

The median price increased in all Valley areas last month, ranging from 5.8 percent in the South Foothills to 34.2 percent in the Southeast Valley.

The Valley’s median house price peaked at $660,000 in May 2007 then collapsed to $347,500 by March 2009 before turning up again.

Foreclosure activity continued trending down toward normal levels in July.

Notices of default issued by lenders plunged 64.5 percent to 311 last month from 877 in July 2012. Defaults decreased from 347 in June.

This indicates that there are fewer foreclosures in the pipeline, Roberts noted in his report.

Foreclosures in July fell 54.6 percent to 103 properties from 227 a year earlier and were unchanged from June.

“I’m happy with the foreclosure numbers. That’s really good news,” Roberts said.

But he characterized July sales as “sluggish.”

Last money sales of new and previously owned houses and condominiums rose 6.6 percent to 1,559 properties from 1,463 a year earlier. And sales increased slightly from 1,544 in June.

“Year-over-year home sales throughout the Valley are mixed,” Roberts noted in his report.

Sales are up over last year by 21 percent in the southeast Valley and up by 20 percent in the south foothills. Meanwhile sales are down from last year’s level by 3 percent in the northeast Valley and down by 2 percent in the central Valley, he said.

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