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Housing market upturn in sight for LA

January 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
It's probably no surprise that homes lost even more value in 2011.

According to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors, home prices in the San Fernando Valley dropped 7 percent last year to a median price of $363,117. That's the lowest full-year median since 2002.

Former association president and Burbank realtor Chris Habitz said home prices and sales are not likely to improve until more people are off unemployment.

In Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke about a nationwide program to help homeowners.

"I'm sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates," the president said. "No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks."

More specifically, the plan would allow struggling homeowners who have mortgages backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to refinance without getting a new appraisal or a full credit check. It would also eliminate some of the fees involved.

The plan is actually one the president announced in Las Vegas late last year and has yet to get off the ground.

What is helping is the recent improvement in the overall economy, including a drop in unemployment numbers, with more jobs available in new home construction.

Also good news regarding foreclosures, in Los Angeles County, default notices fell 13 percent during the last quarter of the year.

According to DataQuick, which provides up-to-date real estate data, default notices are a leading indicator of future foreclosures. Since it's trending down, that suggests the sick housing market just may be getting healthier.