N. Central Valley Gears Up for Recovery

Land Advisors’ Northern California Team is proud to announce that it recently closed 507 single family lots in finished condition in the northern part of the City of Merced, a project known as Bellevue Ranch West.  The buyer is a long-time local farming family who plans to hold the asset as a long-term investment.

Although little building activity is occurring in Merced County at the moment, K. Hovnanian Homes is currently open and selling homes in one project.  The project, known as Eagles Ridge, is an active adult community in the Santa Nella market.

Despite the fact that Merced County new home closings are projected to hit a post-crash low volume in 2012 (off 98.9% from peak new home closing volume), year-to-date home prices are starting to rebound for regular re-sale and REO transactions with each up 2.47% and 1.96% respectively from their troughs. In addition, foreclosure sales (borrower-to-lender) are down 75.13% year-to-date from the 2008 peak.  REO (bank-to-new-buyer) sales are down 71.38% from their peak in 2009.  Our interpretation is this represents a positive sign that the overall Merced County housing market is healing – slowly but surely. (Source: Housing Intelligence Pro by Hanley Wood)

BIG LISTING: As part of a recent major lender-owned land listing for the California Division of the Land Advisors Organization, the Land Advisors Northern California Team covering the North Central Valley is actively looking for buyers for six assets in the bank’s portfolio.  Collectively, the listed assets include 479 single family homes in varying stages of development.  These asset sales represent the last few remaining bank-owned deals in the North Central Valley.  They should attract multiple investors and likely a few builders as the chance to buy lots well below replacement cost dwindle statewide.

Asset Breakdown:

  • Atwater:  Stonecreek – 129 Single Family Detached Lots in Finished Condition;
  • Winton:  Winfield Station – 22 Single Family Detached Lots in Finished Condition;
  • Modesto:  Thomas Terrace – 9 Single Family Detached Lots in Finished Condition;
  • Ceres:  Bing Cherry Estates – 39 Single Family Detached Lots in Finished Condition;
  • Merced:  Amberly Court – 162 Single Family Detached Lots in Rough Graded Condition (on 15.93 acres); and
  • Sage Creek – 118 Single Family Detached Lots in Rough Graded Condition (on 13.55 acres).

Other North Central Valley Updates:  San Joaquin County is experiencing improved new home sales in the towns of Mountain House, Manteca, and Lathrop.  New home projects are getting started in Stanislaus County, with two in Oakdale and one in Patterson.

Slow and steady as they are… all signs of building activity in the North Central Valley show that we are on our way to recovery!

Source: R.J. Radler Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 ext. 12; and Jim Radler Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 ext. 11

 

Big Moves and Bright Ideas in Northern Central Valley

Amazon.com makes a move (to CA): Even the cynics out there are saying that NOW is the time to buy a home.  With interest rates and home values at an all time low, it is certainly a buyer’s market these days.  The problem is remains however, that limited numbers of potential buyers have enough equity ready to put into buying a new home.  The unemployment rate in California and nationwide is still painfully high and we are all waiting for job creation to help boost the economy and the homebuilding industry. 

Good news for California:  Amazon.com made a promise last year to bring 10,000 new jobs to California, and now, according to SacBee.com, the online sales giant is apparently ready to make good on that pledge, starting in western Stanislaus County.  Amazon is expected to announce soon it will build a 1,500-employee distribution center off I-5 in Patterson, west of Modesto.

Patterson profile:

  • Although Patterson has experienced few to no home sales in last two years, the city has shown to be a viable submarket for home sales. From 2002 to 2009 just short of 3,000 new homes sold in this area.
  • Fewer than 200 “finished” lots remain within the City of Patterson.
  • 1,500 new Amazon jobs will dramatically reduce current 18.4% unemployment rate.

New Vision for Merced: At the Merced City Council meeting this month, the public weighed in on the Merced Vision 2030 General Plan, which City officials hope will turn Merced into a dynamic urban entity by 2030.

The concerns at the meeting varied… UC Merced officials were elated with the inclusion of the campus and the University Community housing project in the “Vision.”  On the other hand, some city residents were concerned about the population projections and the potential impacts on agricultural land.

The City Council approved the plan by a 6-1 vote.  Castle Farms, a proposed mixed-use development at Highway 59 and Bellevue Road, and Mission Lakes, a community plan bounded by Mission Avenue to the north, agricultural land to the south and Highway 59 to east, were both left out of the plan because some of the City Council members believe the footprint of the plan is too big.

Bright Idea on Campus: They say college is the time to “find yourself.”  Well the students of the newly-opened University of California, Merced are taking that idea to the next level, and are finding themselves in some pretty nice homes.  Many students are ditching the traditional, crammed on-campus dorms for a more spacious and luxurious option: the vacant foreclosed “McMansions” left behind by the housing boom.

Nearly 5,200 students attend UC Merced, but the university has only enough campus housing for about a third of its population.  The Merced community is hearing mixed reactions from the students who are renting the 5+ bedroom homes and using them in an unconventional way, but overall the sentiment is currently positive.  Neighbors are happy to not have homes left vacant on their street, and the current title holders are happy to be collecting some kind of income from the properties.

Source: RJ Radler, Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 ext. 12

Lowered Development Fees and More Jobs Headed to the Northern Central Valley

Earlier this year, the City of Modesto lowered many of its development fees, including the one-time charges that pay for roads and other public facilities.  The City is lowering capital facility fees by 22% to 45% for residential and commercial projects. Read article: Modesto Bee

ECONOMIC IMPACT:  The University of California, Merced began initial operations in July 2000 and has since contributed approximately $650 million to the San Joaquin Valley economy.  With over 5,000 students currently enrolled, the City of Merced is becoming a hot spot for student housing development, and is anticipating more jobs in the horizon. http://ucmercednews.blogspot.com/2011/09/university-of-california-merced-has.html

Many residents of the Central Valley are looking forward to progress with construction of the proposed high-speed rail, which was approved in 2008.  This mega project is surrounded by loads of controversy, but is estimated to bring approximately new 83,000 jobs to the Central Valley. Read article: Central Valley Business Journal

EMPLOYMENT FACTOR:   As is the case in most homebuilding sub-markets across the country, homebuilders and developers in the Central Valley are eagerly awaiting decreased unemployment and increased consumer confidence, in hopes of jump starting new home sales.

California’s unemployment rate increased to 12.1% in August. However, with the summer growing season in full swing and harvesting of some crops underway, the jobless rates in the Central Valley dipped a bit in August.  Read article: Central Valley Business Times

Here are the August 2011 Central Valley unemployment rates, followed by those from July 2011, which are in parentheses. All are estimates: (Source: Central Valley Business Times)

  • Fresno County, 15.8%; (16.7%)
  • Kern County, 14.4%; (15.5%)
  • Kings County, 15.3%; (16.1%)
  • Madera County, 14.4%; (15.4%)
  • Merced County, 17.5%; (18.7%)
  • San Joaquin County, 16.1%; (17.5%)
  • Stanislaus County, 16.0%; (17.5%)
  • Tulare County, 15.7%; (16.6%)

Source: RJ Radler, Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 x12