Residents use the Chandler Bikeway in Burbank, where the number of distressed homes on the market dropped in November.

Residents use the Chandler Bikeway in Burbank, where the number of distressed homes on the market dropped in November. (Times Community News / December 27, 2012)

The number of distressed homes sold in Burbank last month dropped by almost 40% compared to a year ago, according to the latest real estate figures, which kept the city in line with nationwide trends.

The number of distressed home sales declined from 31 in November 2011 to 19 last month. The homes were either owned by banks or short sales, where a lender lets a homeowner sell their home for less than what is owed on the mortgage.

The number of short sales decreased to 14 last month and there were only five bank-owned homes sold, according to statistics compiled by Realtor Eric Benz with Dilbeck Realtors in Burbank.

Christopher Rizzotti, broker and co-owner of Rizzotti Real Estate in Burbank, said banks are now more willing to approve loan modifications, which is leading to a reduction in foreclosures.

“The banks have stepped up and concentrated on keeping people in their homes if at all possible,” he said.

Also, average home prices have climbed to a level where homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes can sell and escape foreclosure by working with lenders.

Rizzotti added that, overall, the employment picture has improved so more homeowners can stay current on their mortgages.

Single-family home sales picked up a bit last month with 41 homes sold — a 10% increase from 37 in November 2011.

The average price of a home also rose from $489,625 in November 2011 to $589,709 last month.

Low inventory and increasing demand continue to push up home prices, said Rizzotti, president of the Burbank Assn. of Realtors.

He also continues to see several all-cash transactions each month with no appraisals needed, which is attractive to sellers because they can close in about 15 days.

Rizzotti expects the current market trends — diminished inventory, low interest rates and slowly increasing prices — to continue through 2013.

In 2014, many homeowners who have stayed on the sidelines because they are under water on their homes will enter the market because prices will have risen to a point where it makes sense for them to sell, Rizzotti said.

“I think it’s going to take time for prices to continue to edge up,” he said.

The news wasn’t so good for condominiums. Only four condos sold last month, down from seven during the same period last year.

Likewise, the average price of a condo slipped from $391,200 to $356,188.

The number of homes and condos for sale didn’t plunge as deeply in Burbank as they have in the past several months.

There were 55 homes on the market last month, down from 63 in November 2011, while 15 condos were for sale last month compared to 22 last year.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam