Byline: Jason Takenouchi Staff Home for sale bethesda md Writer

SANTA CLARITA - Santa Clarita Valley home sales cooled considerably last month as prices continued their steady rise, according to figures released Monday by the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

Realtors sold 168 homes in January, 18 percent fewer than in the same month last year, the association said. The median price - the point where half of the homes sold for more and half for less - rose to $204,800, a 3.4 percent increase over 1999.

Single-family home sales were the biggest drag on the local market, falling to just 108 sales in January, a 25.5 percent dip from last year. Condominium sales equaled last year's mark with 60 units sold.

``The holiday period is always a slower period of time,'' said Bob Kellar, president of the association's Home for sale bethesda md Santa Clarita Division.

But Kellar said the figures do not necessarily mean the Santa Clarita market is cooling overall.

``The forecast for Santa Clarita particularly is extremely strong,'' he said. ``I'm extremely bullish Homes for sale bethesda maryland on our market.''

Realtors say the slowdown may also have been caused by buyers waiting for the millennium to make their purchases. Since Homes for sale in bethesda maryland sales that closed last month probably started in November or December, they say, the real test of this year's market will be the March sales numbers.

Median prices rose amid the falling sales in January. The condo median price hit $131,800 in January, an 8 Bethesda MD percent increase over last year. The median single-family home price rose to $235,000, a 5.5 percent increase over 1999.

Realtors say anticipated interest rate hikes this year are not likely to slow the market, which has benefited from a strong economy and a relatively low inventory of new and resale homes.

But Errol Valladares, a broker with RE/MAX in Valencia, said the specter of interest rate hikes is pushing some buyers into the market now.

``I think a Home for sale bethesda md lot of first-time buyers, especially buyers that are in a situation where their income is a barrier, are making the decision now,'' he said.

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