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La Cañada's housing market still struggling

Prices still fading, buyers are 'bottom-feeding,' one seller says.

January 18, 2012|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com
  • House located on 4882 Commonwealth Ave. in La Canada on Tuesday, January 17, 2012. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
House located on 4882 Commonwealth Ave. in La Canada on…

Mirroring trends across the nation, the La Cañada Flintridge real estate market continued to struggle in 2011, according to figures released this month.

According to statistics provided by the Multiple Listings Service and compiled by Realtor Keith Sorem at Keller Williams in Glendale, La Cañada’s total sales dropped nine percent, from 234 in 2010 to 212 last year, and new listings dropped from 275 to 246.

Sorem’s analysis showed that one-third more listings either failed to sell or expired last year than in the previous year, driving down the average sale price per square foot by $18.87, to $432.16.

Sorem said this decline was the result of a mismatch of expectations between sellers and buyers, and that prices could continue to fall until the market begins to rebound, leading more sellers to pull their homes off the market.

“There’s a lot of people that feel the same way. They just can’t believe that people won’t pay more than they want them to pay,” Sorem said. “And I will tell you from the buyers’ end, the buyers go, ‘What are you trying to sell me? This is not as good as I expect,’ and they’re disappointed.”

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Still, La Cañada-based B&B Properties’ owner Sam Buchanan said he believes the market is surprisingly strong right now, despite the economy. He said the inventory of homes on the market is “quite low,” at a little more than 40 properties currently available.

“Traditionally in the springtime we have a bit more, but I think several brokers have clients that are looking and are unable to find anything,” he said.

Buchanan said that while houses in the $7 million range, of which there are five on the market, might not be selling, others are.

In fact, he said, it’s a “very hot market” for homes priced from $800,000 to $1.5 million.

Buchanan said that La Cañada is able to weather slumps thanks to the demand for its education system.

“I know it’s a broken record, the big pressure is the schools,” he said. “[Buyers] want the schools.”

Sorem said that it’s a more complicated picture than that, however.

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