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Atherton Homes adds new twist to Manteca’s housing market

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Atherton Homes adds new twist to Manteca’s housing market

The exterior of an Atherton Homes Summit Collection house.

DENNIS WYATT/The Bulletin


POSTED January 14, 2009 2:30 a.m.

It is the next big thing in Manteca housing.

There are four distinctive exterior architectural styles — Spanish, Italianate, California Cottage, and French Eclectic.

The homes feature new twists for Manteca “production” homes such as bona fide wine rooms, patio fireplaces incorporated into rooflines, and Casitas — separate living area complete with fireplace, bedroom, and bathroom with separate access off the front courtyard.

Standard features the gamut from 8-foot interior doors, two-tone interior paint, 5.25-inch high Coronado base boards and something that new homes rarely come with — window coverings in the form of one-inch metal blinds throughout the house.

As most builders opted to retrench during the housing meltdown or turn to entry-level housing, Atherton Homes is raising the bar.

The long-time Manteca builder is rolling out the Summit Collection at Union Ranch just east of Del Webb at Woodbridge. The models aren’t done yet and already the builder has sold 10 homes in the 98-lot first phase. Four homes have closed and six are under construction. An additional two have been reserved. As for the models, they may be done by early February.

“We’re not in the business of building boxes any more,” quipped sales director Kathy Hammons.

Atherton Homes has completely departed from their floor plans that were among the top sellers south of the Highway 120 Bypass in neighborhoods such as Woodward Park, Antigua, Emerald Glen, and Jasmine.

Extensive architectural features such as recessed ceilings, liberal use of built-in cabinets and shelves, interior stonework including stone counters, hardwood floors, and deep windowsills give the homes a distinctive different look.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Union Ranch and the Summit Collection are the prices. There are seven models with base prices ranging from $344,990 as the base for The Capstone with a floor plan starting at 2,128 square feet to $449,990 as the base for The Plymouth with square footage starting with 4,157 square feet.

It is in start contrast to the resale market where 1,165 existing homes sold last year for a median price of $225,000.

Developers — including Atherton Homes — can’t build new homes that cheap even at cost.

Atherton Homes closed deals on 55 homes last year. It is about a third of the pace they were doing when the market was red hot. But even so, the only builder in Manteca who sold more homes last year was Pulte Homes in Del Webb with its 55 and older housing restriction.

If several of the Atherton Summit Collection model homes now under construction are reminiscence of several homes found among the storied Blackhawk community in the Diablo Valley, it’s by design.

“The same homes we’re selling for $424,900 (The Pinnacle at 3,844 square feet) are selling in Blackhawk for $1.4 million,” Hammons noted.

More telling of the value at Union Ranch is Atherton’s own pricing. Three years ago, the largest home that Atherton Homes built for $650,000. Today the same square footage can be bought for $449,990.

That, though, is just part of the story. Buyers of Atherton Homes three years ago — like those from most new homebuilders in Manteca — were predominately from the Bay Area. Now the lion’s share of buyers are Manteca move-up buyers including those who are keeping their current homes as rentals and buying new to take advantage of the lowest interest rates in over 30 years, aggressive pricing by builders, and the latest technology including energy savings packages that include solar power.

There are three single story models from 2,100 to 2,800 square feet. Hammons noted that with incentives, the price of that $344,990 is a lot close to $300,000.

“There is a lot of character and style in the homes we’re building,” Hammons noted.

Some buyers like the proximity to Del Webb — the age-restricted community — so they can be near parents. Others like the fact it is on the edge of the country or that the entire 500-home neighborhood only has two ways in and out – both via Union Road.

Most new home buyers who have passed on other new neighborhoods that are still not built out do make one thing clear that they like about Union Ranch — no foreclosures.

That’s because buyers in both the Woodside neighborhood and Atherton’s Summit Collection have to be well qualified to have secure loans as home sales did not start in any part of Union Ranch until early 2008.

It isn’t the first time Atherton Homes has broken with the pack. They were the first to roll out production homes bigger than 3,000 square feet and than and again bigger than 4,000 square feet complete with a rotunda. Both came at a time when other builders openly expressed amazement that Atherton Homes was pushing the envelope offering homes that big in Manteca.

The sales office features an interactive touch video screen where buyers can switch in and out floor plan options, pick façade style, lot setbacks, and have it all printed out

The sales office is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 824-2071.

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