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Its a mad, mad, mad market
Which house in Manteca closed for more money last week: Is it the house in the top photo built about 10 years ago with 1,362 square feet with three bedrooms and three bathrooms or the house in the bottom photo circa early 1970s with 1,164 square feet including three bedrooms and two bathrooms? See adjoining column. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

The Manteca housing gods must be crazy.

How else do you explain two deals that closed last week?

A 1,352-square-foot home built in the late 1990s with three bedrooms and three bathrooms at 514 Mission Ridge Drive closed escrow for $131,750.

That was $1,250 less than a three bedroom, two bathroom home with 1,164 square feet at 810 Ralph Avenue built at least 25 years prior that exchanged hands on Dec. 2 for $133,000.

The newer home is one of the popular Z-lot homes that the late Antone Raymus came up with as The Cottages as an affordable housing solution at the time. It doesn’t back up to the freeway nor does it back up to the Mission Ridge Shopping Center. It is directly across from Cotta Park.

The selling price is also about what it sold for new.

The older home is a traditional floor plan on a standard lot.

Even so, checking prices of  similar homes that sold in 2004, the newer home sold for close to $90,000 more than the older one.

What gives?

In a nutshell, there is no longer a market standard.

It all depends upon who holds the foreclosure. Some banks are being extremely realistic and are pricing things right around market conditions.

Others are essentially dumping their homes while still others act like it is still 2005.

Most banks with a lot of experience in the Manteca market have stabilized their prices and have streamlined their operations.

Enough haven’t, though, to make buying a home today feel a bit like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

• • •

 Twenty-one months ago I took the plunge and bought a home.

It consists of two bedrooms and one bathroom with 995 square feet in Powers Tract built in 1954 for $189,900. The bank kicked back $5,000 for closing costs and upgraded the kitchen and bathroom, painted, and put in carpet.

I have no regrets as the house is in a neighborhood I wanted plus it has various features and a look that I like immensely. Things such as those, of course, impact value to the buyer.

But to demonstrate how affordable things have become, just 21 months later $185,000 – essentially what I financed – would have bought a four bedroom, three bathroom homes with 2,190 square feet at 1243 Correira Place that closed escrow Nov. 23.

Someone spent less - $180,000 – and got even more square feet in a three bedroom, two bathroom home with 2,321 square feet at 14620 Pueblo Drive in Raymus Village.

Essentially they got more than twice the amount of house for the same price. Both homes are at least 25 years newer than the one I bought.

I’d make some value arguments about construction advantages and such but essentially I’m in the home I want to be in and I can handle the payments. Would it be nice to have lower payments? Of course, but then again I wouldn’t have stabilized my monthly housing costs or – as they say – be putting down roots at a place that is mine by waiting. (Well, after 338 more payments it’ll be mine.)

• • •

 Will prices realistically drop lower at least across the board in an amount of any consequence?

Judging from the trends since April, the answer would have to be no.

After prices plunged $10,000 a month for a period and then slowed to $4,000 a month. Things started stabilizing around April with the closed escrow of all resale homes in Manteca fluctuating between $175,000 and $179,500 since then.