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Do signs show another wave of foreclosures?

March 17, 2010 12:43:33 AM PDT
Home prices are up in Southern California, compared to the same time period a year ago and here is how it will impact sellers and buyers in the near future. Gary Miller enjoys sitting outside in his front porch of his Valley Village home but he's getting a little tired of the sign that is right in front of it. He's been trying to sell his house for roughly half a year and the total number offers he has received is, "a big zero," said Miller.

But the latest real estate statistics show the selling prices of homes in Southern California are on the rise. Compared to February 2009, the previous month saw home prices in L.A. County jump up five percent. In Orange County, they were up by 11 percent and seven percent in Ventura County with a four percent increase in Riverside County. It was only in San Bernardino did home prices fall last month, by two percent.

"To the consumer, it means that this is an opportunity. There is a light at the end of the tunnel," said Pat Zicarelli, a past president of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

He says that the double-digit jump in regional home prices should convince even more people to start buying homes.

"This is an opportunity where people-if they don't by now, they will look in the rear view mirror and say, 'I missed the boat,'" said Zicarelli.

A 10 percent jump in home prices is certainly spurring hope for some home sellers but others are remaining pessimistic. They point to just how bad things were in February 2009.

"2009 February was probably the lowest point in our hyper-inflation economy," said Miller.

Zicarelli agrees. The increase in home prices doesn't signal the end of the southland's real estate problems. He points out that many real estate experts believe another wave of foreclosures could be on the way, possibly knocking home values back down.

But Zicarelli is quick to point to a couple, Cheryl and Chuck Theile, who listed their Encino home five days before and received 11 offers. The home is currently in escrow.

"We were pleasantly surprised, very much so. We're real happy," said Chuck.

It is a sign of hope for home sellers, in a time when signs are all too abundant and not too encouraging.