Fewer homes were on the market last month compared to a year ago, according to the latest real estate statistics. It’s a trend that’s been growing the past several months due to low interest rates and declining home prices.
There were 140 single-family homes for sale last month, a 28% decline from the 198 in February 2011, according to figures compiled by the Burbank Assn. of Realtors.
“We’re seeing extremely low inventory,” said Brian Paul, the association’s chief executive.
He said it’s a strong environment for sellers because many are getting multiple offers and some are receiving offers higher than what they’re asking.
“But if you’re a buyer, it’s very competitive,” Paul said.
Housing inventory is even lower in Glendale, where the number of single-family homes on the market dropped nearly 50% last month compared to the same period in 2011, according to a report by Realtor Keith Sorem with Keller Williams of Glendale.
The drop was even steeper for the amount of condominiums on the market, falling by more than 54%, according to Sorem’s report.
UCLA real estate professor Paul Habibi said another factor contributing to the reduced inventory is the fact that investors are stepping in, buying houses at low prices and then renting them in hopes of selling when prices rebound.
“It’s a profitable venture,” he said.
He added that rents have remained relatively high. And depending on how the home’s purchase is financed, a monthly rent payment can cover the mortgage, interest and property taxes, Habibi said.
It’s a nationwide trend, he said, that probably won’t change until new home construction picks up again, hopefully in a few years.
“But it won’t be like it was,” Habibi cautioned.
Housing affordability is also leading to homes selling quickly, Paul said. Years ago, only 13% of Californians could afford a median-priced home, he said, but that number has jumped to about 67% today.
“Affordability is at a generational low,” he said.
In looking at other information on the latest stats, the median price of a single-family home decreased last month compared to February 2011, but the median condominium price climbed.
The median price for a home was $421,000 last month, a 15% drop from $497,500 the same month a year prior.
The number of single-family homes sold was unchanged, holding steady at 26.
The median price of a condo was $335,000 last month, a 14% bump up from 288,250 in February 2011.
However, the number of condo sales dropped from eight in February 2011 to only three last month.