As a housing market feeding frenzy caused by low supply, high demand and affordable interest rates continues throughout the state, a recent study shows that home values in Stanislaus County have increased at California’s seventh-highest rate.
According to the study by financial tech company SmartAsset, homes in Stanislaus County increased 48.23% over the last five years. The report also shows the county’s median home price as $272,400, and its recent rate of home value growth is the seventh highest in the state behind Merced, Yuba, Lake San Joaquin, Sacramento and Sutter counties, respectively.
Data available at Realtor.com shows that the median home price in Turlock currently sits at about $450,000, nearly $200,000 above the county average. Modesto residents David and Karen Bigelow have been looking to move to Turlock since March, but have yet to find a home that is within their price range, fits their needs and, most frustratingly, can stay on the market long enough for them to purchase it.
The couple finds themselves being outbid often by out-of-market buyers who place their offers in cash — often the result of Bay Area and Southern California shoppers who have sold their old homes for much higher prices than the new Central Valley homes they’re purchasing.
“I think COVID made a lot of people realize they can work from home, and more companies are allowing that because of what's happened with the pandemic,” David Bigelow said. “People in the Bay Area are realizing they can sell their $1.5 million home in the bay, come down here and get a bigger home, pay cash for it and still have $800,000 in the bank after.”
While homebuyers from other areas may be able to afford the surging home values, prospective buyers in the Valley can’t keep up. The last time Bigelow purchased a house was in the early 2000s, he said, and the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house cost him about $185,000. Now, the Bigelows are in search of something similar in Turlock less than 20 years later but can expect to pay well over $400,000.
And with plenty of cash buyers on the hunt as well, the houses aren’t available for long.
“It’s night and day. I remember even back then from that experience, we had seven or eight houses to choose from and we could take our time and go view them all, then think about it for a week and decide which one we wanted,” Bigelow said. “Now you go look at one and if you think you might want it, you’d better put an offer in on it that day or it's going to be gone.”
Bigelow added that the search for a new house in Turlock was fun for about a month, but that it quickly became a defeating process. Homes they could have easily purchased two years ago are now out of their price range, and the competitive market makes hope of finding anything seem bleak.
“We kind of knew what we were getting into, but we didn’t know it would be this crazy,” he said. “If I were to give somebody advice, because of how competitive the market is right now, make sure it’s the home you want and that you’re going to be comfortable paying that price so that you don’t have buyer’s regret a year in.”
While the market is showing signs of cooling, the California Association of Realtors said in July that median house prices for 2021 will still be up over 20% and sales will show an 8% boost over 2020 values thanks to the year’s first six months of market madness.
“Make it be a long-term home if you're going to stay in it right now, and really be picky. I know that's hard because there's so little inventory out there that it’s driving up costs, but wait for that house you want,” Bigelow said. “It may mean you have to wait another year, but wait as long as you can to find the right deal.”