A home on the 1000 block of Matilija Road that is within the borders of the newly declared North Cumberland Heights historic district.

A home on the 1000 block of Matilija Road that is within the borders of the newly declared North Cumberland Heights historic district. (Times Community News / October 18, 2012)

The number of homes and condominiums for sale in Glendale remained stubbornly low in September compared to the same period last year, but median prices — fueled by multiple offers — notched up again, according to the latest figures.

There were 114 single-family homes on the market last month, a 36% drop from the 179 homes listed in September 2011, according to statistics compiled by Realtor Keith Sorem of Keller Williams in Glendale.

Forty-six homes sold last month, a slight increase from 43 during the same month last year. Meanwhile, the median price rose from $586,000 to $600,000.

As has been the trend the last few months, condos saw the biggest plunge in inventory, dropping 69% from 124 on the market last year in September to just 38 last month.

However, the number of condos sold surged 95% to 37 last month compared to the same period last year, with the median price rising by $20,000 to $269,000.

Bank-owned homes and short sales — in which lenders let homeowners sell their homes for less than they owe on their mortgages — made up about 40% of total sales last month, down from 47.5% a year ago.

The housing market appears to be improving, said Paul Habibi, real estate professor with the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“Price stability is the No. 1 most important thing for housing,” he said. “We are now seeing a market where prices are stable.”

And while low housing inventory sometimes makes it tough for a first-time buyer to get into the market because of multiple offers, a persistently high number of homes for sale would be worse, he added.

Two other factors are contributing to higher median prices, Habibi said — a lower number of foreclosures on the market, and high-end homes in better condition are now selling as “move-up buyers” are dipping their toes into the market.

If prices continue to climb and existing home sales keep improving, Habibi said, housing construction may pick up again in the next two years or so.

But don't expect prices to soar like they did several years ago, when median prices rose double-digits every year.

“That's not sustainable,” he said.

Right now, developers are focusing on apartments as younger people are putting off purchasing houses because they can't find one in their price range, they've repeatedly been outbid on a home, or they are too financially strapped, Habibi said.

They also want to live closer to work because of traffic congestion. And because there is more job mobility today — where a person might have 10 to 15 jobs during their career — putting down roots in a home isn't appealing.

“[Improved] transit will make that a bit easier in the future,” Habibi said.

Glendale has several apartment projects — Lex on Orange, the Broadway Lofts and the Brand and Wilson development — either under construction or in the planning stages.

The La Crescenta-Montrose area was the only part of the city where the number of single-family homes sold dropped, from 36 in September 2011 to 28 last month.

However, it followed the housing inventory drought with only 42 single-family homes up for sale — a 53% plunge from last year.

Also, the median price of homes showed a healthy gain to $570,000.

In La Cañada Flintridge, the number of homes on the market decreased 36% to 52, but the number of homes sold climbed by 25% to 20. The medium home price was $1.13 million.

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Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam