VAN NUYS – In what could be a big shift in favor of buyers, home sales in the San Fernando Valley plunged an annual 16.1 percent during October to their lowest level for that month in five years, a trade group reported Wednesday. Prices remained strong, though, with the median soaring 27.3 percent, or $128,500 from a year ago, to match the record $600,000 set in July, according to the Van Nuys-based Southland Regional Association of Realtors. But it was the slowdown in sales that caught the eye of experts, who said properties are lingering on the market longer: In 28 of the 36 ZIP codes tracked by the association, listings averaged between 61 and 120 days on the market. They said it’s not uncommon for a listing to sit for 45 to 60 days in a normal market, although in recent years many properties were being sold within days of being listed. “Properties will sit on the market longer, and that’s not a bad thing (for buyers),” said Tom Carnahan, owner of Carnahan & Associates in Woodland Hills. At the end of October, there was a 3.2-month supply of inventory, nearly twice the record low of several months ago. But it’s only half of what is considered the amount needed so neither sellers or buyers hold the advantage. Some forecasts call for sales next year to fall and appreciation rates to narrow or flatten out. “One month doesn’t make a trend, but if you talk to people who follow the housing market, we have passed the peak,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “There is just an air of caution out there. People are just not jumping at the first unit that comes on the market. They are being more selective.” The small condominium market also softened in October. Last month, sales fell an annual 5.7 percent, to 362 transactions, and dropped 16.8 percent from September. But the median price, the point at which half the units cost more and half less, jumped an annual 22.6 percent, to $385,000, also matching July’s record. Jim Link, the association’s executive vice president, said some sellers, especially at the more expensive end of the market, are reducing their asking prices. And across the Valley, sellers can no longer just take what a house down their street recently sold for and tack on a 20 percent premium. “There have been signs the market is beginning to take a breather here for the last several weeks,” he said. “In the long run, any slowdown will be a good thing for buyers and sellers.” Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week The sales decline was attributed to rising mortgage rates that now are above 6 percent and buyers becoming more resistant to high prices. The market typically cools in the year’s fourth quarter, but this is the first time since 2000 that sales of previously owned, single-family homes fell under the 1,000-unit mark in October. And the year-over-year decline is the biggest dip for any month since a 19.5 percent drop from July 1999 to July 2000. But even though sales fell from a year ago and dropped 15.6 percent from September, the total number of single-family transactions – 998 – is still a strong number, market watchers said. And this is still expected to be one of the strongest sales years ever. “I would not write an obituary for the booming seller’s market just yet,” said Jim Ezell, the association’s president and a Realtor for 30 years. “The market is still exceptionally active. … Gratefully, it’s finally beginning to slow down to a more normal pace.” Buyers are also benefiting from rising inventory.