Key points from the California Association of Realtors 's March 2017 resale housing report include:
— New statewide active listings continued to decline, falling 12 percent from a year ago, and contributed to a full one-month drop in the unsold inventory index.
— The substantial decline in new listings combined with March's robust sales brought down C.A.R.'s Unsold Inventory Index to its lowest level so far this year and the third lowest level in more than three years. The index, which measures the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate, dropped a full month to 3.0 months in March from 4.0 months in February. The index stood at 3.6 months in March 2016.
— The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home fell from 33.5 days in February to 26.7 days in March and was down from 29.9 days in March 2016.
— C.A.R.'s sales-to-list price ratio was 99.3 percent of listing prices statewide in March, 98.6 percent in February, and 98.9 percent in March 2016.
—The average price per square foot for an existing, single-family home statewide was $252 in March, $241 in February, and $232 in March 2016.
—San Francisco County had the highest price per square foot in March at $872/sq. ft., followed by San Mateo ($838/sq. ft.), and Marin ($688/sq. ft.). Counties with the lowest price per square foot in March included Del Norte ($115/sq. ft.), Lassen ($118/sq. ft.), and Siskiyou ($125/sq. ft.).
—Mortgage rates have risen since last fall. The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 4.20 percent in March, up from 4.17 percent in February and up from 3.69 percent in March 2016, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable-rate mortgage interest rates dipped in March to an average of 3.21 percent, from 3.20 percent in February and 2.90 percent in March 2016.
Spring is the season of new beginnings, but while there may be fresh flowers blooming around the city, new home listings in Turlock and around the state are hard to come by.
Despite rising home sales around the state, new active listings have continued to decline, falling 12 percent from this time last year, according to the California Association of Realtors. Local Realtor Lloyd Blackman says the situation is the same in Turlock. There are plenty of “enthusiastic” buyers, he said, but a lack of housing for them to choose from.
“When people contact me and say, ‘Let’s go shopping,’ back in the old days I would tell them I have five listings for them to look at, but now I have to tell them there’s nothing like what they’ve described,” said Blackman.
As of Friday, there were 107 active listings in the Turlock area. In years past, this time of year would yield over 150. The lack of listings in the area is driving homebuyers to look elsewhere, such as Delhi, Livingston and even as far as Atwater.
A shortage of new home construction within the city has contributed to the lower number of home listings, and because of that low number, housing prices have gone up. CAR states that the median price of a single-family California home is above $500,000 for the month of March, while in Turlock, the average home value is $280,400, up $20,000 from last year’s median price.
“It’s like anything else – when you have an imbalance of supply and demand, the biggest impact is price, and this is driving prices up,” said Blackman.
Building fees in Turlock are considerably higher than surrounding communities, added Blackman, and contractors typically prefer to build elsewhere. The city’s most recently approved subdivision, to be built by Fitzpatrick Homes on North Johnson Road, will be the first project to subdivide land, install new streets and build new homes in Turlock since the recession.
“It’s tough to attract developers and convince them to pay to build homes here versus other communities because they can turn a profit elsewhere better,” said Blackman.
Another contributor to the low listing rate in Turlock are Baby Boomers who are taking longer to sell their homes. Many older Turlock residents are staying put later in life, whether it be because their families are still in Turlock and they don’t want to leave the city, or there are not enough homes being built to meet their new needs.
“Older people with two story homes and pools that aren’t being used would love to live in a planned unit development, but there are none so there is no incentive for them to move,” said Blackman.
Due to affordability concerns, Millennials (age 35 and under) are proving slower to buy homes than previous generations. Turlock resident Tevin Jones, a 23-year-old newlywed, went against that notion and saw his youth as the ideal time to purchase a home.
“Financially, it makes more sense to own a home rather than rent because with rent, that money disappears but if you own a home you gain value,” said Jones. “It just made sense to buy earlier.”
Though it took Jones and his wife a couple of tries before they found the home of their dreams, he described Turlock as a “tricky” location to find a home that is move-in ready. The pair began looking for homes in January, he said, considering Hughson and Denair as a landing spot before ultimately deciding on Turlock. With a budget of $299,000, Jones and his wife looked at around 10 homes before settling on the one they are currently purchasing. Despite Turlock’s listing shortage, Jones said that he “just had to be patient.”
“We started looking seriously in January, and it took about four months to find one,” said Jones. “It’s easier than it seems, but if you’re thinking about buying a house do your research.”