Home values: Median prices in 12 cities

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Los Angeles

This contemporary split-level town house in Sherman Oaks, Calif., built in 1989, features a living room with a corner fireplace accented in brick, hardwood floors, high ceilings and clerestory windows. Eat-in kitchen has ceramic tile floors, stainless steel appliances, pendant lighting and a built-in microwave. Adjacent dining room has hardwood floors and recessed lighting. The floor plan “has a lot of open space, which makes it very appealing,” says Kirina Sidelnik, a broker with Umbrella Real Estate Group Inc. The large patio includes a barbecue area. The master suite has high ceilings, an oversized window, a walk-in closet and master bath. The home also has an attached two-car garage and covered balcony.

Price: $345,000

Area median price: $345,600 (down 11.5 percent)

  • 3 bedrooms/2+ bathrooms (one full bath, three-quarter bath and half-bath)
  • 1,377 square feet
  • 0.03 acre lot
  • Fireplace with mantle and brick hearth
  • Large patio with barbecue area
  • Community has two pools and a rec center

Price trend:
One secret to getting Los Angeles property at the median price: short sales, says Sidelnik.

With a short sale offer of $345,000, buyers could probably find “a nice town house in the Valley — Sherman Oaks, Encino,” she says. “Occasionally, now you see a condominium in Studio City.”

The median price in the greater Los Angeles area was $345,600 in the fall of 2009 — down from $390,600 during the same period in 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors.

With a lot of patience, median-price buyers could find a house, “but you have to watch for it,” she says. “And at this price, in nicer areas,” there will likely be multiple offers, she says.

One problem for buyers: Making an offer on a short sale is not as easy as it was a year ago, Sidelnik says. These days, banks want as close to 95 percent of market value as possible, she says. “And when multiple offers start kicking in, sometimes we are even going over market values, if the property is really pretty.”