Carol Wolfe dishes on Bidding Wars in the Valley

Shortage of homes for sale in San Fernando Valley triggers bidding wars

 A shortage of houses for sale in the San Fernando Valley is triggering bidding wars, quick sales and an investor feeding frenzy, according to real estate agents.
With prices low after the market crash, more homeowners are reluctant to sell – and with banks still stinging from the foreclosure crisis, financing is harder to come by.
At the same time, the lower prices and rates are luring more buyers into the market. The result: Not nearly enough homes are on the market to satisfy the demands of a growing pool of homebuyers and investors, driving prices back up and limiting selection.

After 37 years as an agent, Carol Wolfe with Rodeo Realty in Encino, can’t recall seeing a market like this. She’s personally trying to buy a 1,126-square-foot three bedroom, one bath fixer upper in Lake Balboa listed for $245,000 to either flip or rent out.

The seller has 34 offers and on Tuesday instructed all the bidders to submit their last, best offers.
“All of the offers are cash. There are so many investors out there that it’s crazy,” she said. “I put my offer in at $310,000 and I probably won’t get it.” A few weeks ago she had a listing in the 4400 block of Azalia Drive in Tarzana priced under the market at $599,000 and held a broker’s open house – used to introduce other agents to the property – on a Friday morning. More than 200 people showed up and the property attracted multiple offers. It’s now in escrow for $715,000, she said. “That was crazy. The buyers will bid up the price if you price it right,” she said. That’s the market’s up side. The flip side is that listings are hard to come by. Wolfe is used to handling between 10 and 20 listings at a time. She currently has two because of the tight inventory. At the end of March there were just 1,875 houses and condos for sale in the San Fernando Valley, according to the Van Nuys-based Southland Regional Association of Realtors, a scant 2.8 month supply at the current sales pace.That’s the lowest since the start of the downturn in 2007. Inventory peaked at 7,730 properties in October 2007 and has been steadily falling since then. The record high inventory is 14,976 properties in July 1992 as the Valley’s aerospace sector was shrinking and the record low is 1,492 March 2004 as the market was hot and credit easy. The Realtors group started tracking the combined house and condo inventory in January 1986.

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