Econowatch/7″/cw1st BY JOAN OSTERWALDER Staff Reporter The San Fernando Valley posted a whopping $4 billion in residential real estate sales in 1998, the region’s best year of the decade, according to industry officials. Sales in 1998 were up almost $1 billion over 1997, said Bud Mauro, 1998 president of the Southland Regional Assn. of Realtors for the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita. “1998 showed that we’re really back,” he said. “Buyers’ confidence has returned. It gave everybody a positive attitude in the San Fernando Valley.” Excluding sales of new homes, 16,555 single-family homes and condos changed hands last year, an 11.8 percent gain over 1997 and the highest unit total in a decade. Northridge, especially the Porter Ranch area, is having a “fantastic market” in re-sales right now, said Mauro. “The stigma of the earthquake is gone. The homes are looking pretty sharp, and there are more homes for the average buyer in the north Valley.” Unit sales of single-family homes in the Valley rose 14.7 percent over 1997, while there was a 1.6 percent gain in condominium sales. “I believe we’ll be in a good market for a couple of years,” Mauro said. “Everything’s positive. I think we’re on the go here.” The median price for a single-family home in the Valley rose from $165,833 in 1997 to $190,117 last year, a 14.6 percent increase. “It was a very strong year,” said Bob Bray, national marketing director for the Meyers Group, a real estate information company. “It’s due to a resurgence in the economy and continuation of job creation. Everybody is looking at 1998 as a solid year.” As long as interest rates stay low, homes should remain affordable, Bray said.