Home market under $850,000 springs into action

The number of homes and condos sold and in escrow throughout March is higher than January and February combined. . FHA financing helps buyers get off the sidelines. .

After a brutal start to 2009, the housing market has finally sprung into action, especially in the home and condo market under $850,000. Besides the typical spring time activity surge, the market has been aided by record low interest rates and the availability of FHA financing (up to $729,000 in California) requiring borrowers to only put 3 to 5% down for a purchase. FHA loans also allow buyers without superior credit to still qualify for competitive mortgage rates.

I have represented clients in five deals in over the past three weeks. Each property ended up getting multiple offers and they were located in Mar Vista, Culver City and Westchester. All of these situations involved a seller that priced the home at or below the true market value. Buyers in this market must perceive a good value in the property for them to write an offer within the first two weeks.

The majority of the offers being submitted are through FHA financing. In fact, the deal in Westchester initially wanted to only accept offers from buyers qualified with conforming loans. They did not receive any offers. Once they lifted that requirement they promptly received three offers and are in escrow at very close to the asking price.

Overall activity has picked up substantially in March compared to the previous four months. However, it is still below normal volume levels.

Please see the statistics of single family residences (SFR) and condos (CC) for selected areas below from March 1st thru March 26th. This information was gathered from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

Pacific Palisades: 20 In Escrow; 11 Sold (25 SFR and 6 CC)
Manhattan Beach: 27 In Escrow; 16 Sold (34 SFR and 9 CC)
Santa Monica: 42 In Escrow; 22 Sold (15 SFR and 49 CC)
Mar Vista: 16 In Escrow; 20 Sold (24 SFR and 12 CC)
West Hollywood Hills/Sunset Strip: 30 In Escrow: 10 Sold (38 SFR and 2 CC)
Brentwood: 25 In Escrow: 14 Sold (20 SFR and 19 CC)
Culver City: 30 In Escrow: 18 Sold (26 SFR and 22 CC)
Westchester: 19 In Escrow: 12 Sold (26 SFR and 5 CC)
Marina Del Rey: 18 In Escrow: 13 Sold (2 SFR and 29 CC)
Beverly Hills: 13 In Escrow: 7 Sold (13 SFR and 7 CC)
Beverly Hills Post Office: 5 In Escrow: 10 Sold (15 SFR)
Playa Vista: 5 In Escrow: 3 Sold (8 CC)
Hermosa Beach: 13 In Escrow: 6 Sold (13 SFR and 6 CC)
North Redondo: 22 In Escrow: 26 Sold (11 SFR and 37 CC)

* One glaring exception is Malibu Beach. According to the MLS the area has only 1 deal in escrow and zero sales for March!

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