The Northern San Joaquin Valley was flying high five years ago.
An influx of Bay Area buyers - squeezed out of living close to their jobs due to affordability issues - were snapping up everything they could east of the Altamont Pass.
As a result buying an existing home in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties was significantly higher than the national average making affordability for those who lived and worked in the two counties so difficult that those wanting to own a home were snared by unconventional financing that led to the foreclosure fiasco.
In Manteca alone, the gap between median home values compared to the national average was just over $200,000. Manteca’s median was $421,000.
Prices plunged enough in Manteca that by the third quarter of 2008 the national median and Manteca median were both the same at a tad under $200,000. Today median home prices in Manteca are almost $10,000 under the national median based on September transactions.
Similar price movements have taken place from Stockton to Turlock and Lathrop to Oakdale.
It underscores what is arguably an opportunity of a lifetime: Affordability for those who live and work in the Northern San Joaquin Valley may be at a lifetime high.
And while there are indications prices are going to stay soft for a while longer that won’t be the case for a significantly longer time. As the economy gains strength it will be reflected in housing prices. The movement upward won’t be a lot at place, but it will occur.
When it does, it will start reducing the number of households that can afford to own a home.
And unless we as a nation are extremely stupid, the amount of people who can afford to buy a home will drop significantly more this time around due to what could best be described as over tightening of lending standards in response to the anything-goes approach that caused the collapse of the housing market.
It goes without saying those who are serious about buying a home may never have a time they can do so at such an affordable level or buy so much home per dollar spent.