Housing market starting to stabilize

LOS ANGELES Many homeowners with the help of their realtor will stage a home so it can look its best when it goes on the market for sale. Realtor, Monty Iceman, currently is trying to sell one of his listed properties in Studio City. He hopes it will sell as well as some of his other properties have most recently.

"There has been a lot more people. We have had multiple offers. Some of the properties that have gone really close to the asking, actually sell over asking which hasn't happened in a few years," said Iceman.

And it's not just Monty Iceman's properties that are selling well. According to the latest figures from the California Association of Realtors home sales in Los Angeles County jumped over 30 percent in June, that's compared to one year ago.

It may be that prices have fallen so much that good value is getting buyers to sign on the dotted line. Even so home prices are on the rise slightly.

According to the latest Case-Shiller index report national home prices are still down from a year ago, but they are up a half percent from April to May. And in Los Angeles the figures look even more promising.

The median price of an existing single family home in Los Angeles last month was $319,860. That's up 2.1 percent from $313,270 the previous month, according to the California Association of Realtors. This is an encouraging sign to realtors.

"And the most encouraging part about it is the appraisals are coming in over the sales price which has not happened in years. That is great. This means the banks are feeling a little bit more confident in the economy in general," said Iceman.

Meantime, home improvement stores are not so sure the housing market is turning around just yet. Sales of new construction and home improvement products have declined.

However, Lowe's and Home Depot are seeing higher sales in paints and stains, a sign homeowners are willing to spruce up their homes and that foreclosure home repairs may still be driving the home improvement market.

Most experts agree these latest numbers are good news and may be a sign of recovery, but those experts also believe this is only a couple months of data so it will likely take a few more months to see if we have indeed turned the housing market around. And remember, prices today are only at the level they were in 2003.

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