The San Fernando Valley home market showed some signs of life last month, with foreclosures down to their lowest level in four years, and both sales volume and prices showing monthly increases, according to new figures out today.
Lenders foreclosed on 275 properties in March - a drop of 52 percent from the 569 foreclosures of a year ago, according to the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at Cal State Northridge. Between February and March, they dropped 9.5 percent.
Foreclosures have now plummeted 70 percent from their record 922 in August 2008 as the Great Recession paralyzed the market.
And the number of homeowners receiving default notices fell 14 percent to 973 from 1,131 a year earlier, CSUN said. They increased 34 percent from 728 in February.
Foreclosure activity has been declining for more than two years with some variations month-to-month.
"The declining level of (defaults) is good evidence of a continuing, slow economic recovery," economist William W. Roberts, the center's director, said in an email.
During March foreclosures were highest in Olive View and Reseda. And while foreclosures are still significant, they are no longer a primary driver in the housing market, the center said.
Sales in March increased by 17 percent from the 1,152 sales in February. But the market still remains weak, with monthly totals running about two-thirds the level of the late 1990s.
Last month 1,350 new
Sales typically increase from February to March.
The median price of a previously owned house increased 6.5 percent to $378,000 in March, up from $355,000 over the month before. But that was a 1 percent slip from the $382,000 of a year earlier.
Roberts said that there is some downward price movement in the higher priced Valley areas.
There is likely a benefit to this because it may trigger sales of more expensive properties, Roberts noted.
"This might actually generate a rise in the median price," Roberts said.