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The bottom of the Manteca market
Part of the Cherry Lane condos on Cherry Lane at Union Road. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
You can own your own home in Manteca for less than $550 a month and not have to sink a lot of money into the foreclosure you’re buying.

Cherry Lane Condos – a conversion complex on Union Road at Cherry Lane – has four units listed as short sales with the asking price ranging from $48,000 to $55,000. The two bedrooms, one bathroom units with 944 square feet have consistently been closing escrow for the past six months at $48,000.

That price with 3.5 percent down ($1,680) reflects a monthly mortgage payment including property tax and insurance of $341.99. By the time you toss in homeowners association you’re right around a monthly housing cost of $550. Try to rent a two bedroom apartment in a Manteca complex for that.

For six months now the condo conversions at the Cherry Lane complex have not sold for less than $48,000 while a few have sold for a few dollars more. At the market’s peak over three years ago they were fetching $220,000 apiece.

Condo living in a converted complex fits some people’s lifestyles to a “T” while others can’t figure out why anyone would chose such an option. That’s the great thing about having various housing types. There is something for everyone.

Even if you’re not into such condos you need to keep an eye on the Cherry Lane complex.

The banks owning the units have made it clear based on transactions over the last six months that the market has reached the bottom for them.

They have resisted going lower than $48,000 and are still moving the units albeit slowly. Some are going to investors others are going to owners who live in them. Either which way buying the condos pencils out well financially.  The investor can charge $650 and still be more than competitive, pocket $100 a month, and have the maintenance covered through the association fees. And when the market goes up eventually taking rents with them, it increases the monthly return. Buyers who need affordable housing get and don’t have to worry about exterior maintenance issues.

Again, they’re not for everybody but there is a definite market.

And unlike other segments of the resale market right now, the condo sales are pretty consistent for appraising as well as the price point at which buyers will bite without having to get into bidding wars. That is why the condo pricing is much clearer than on other homes of various sizes, ages, locations, condition and so forth.

All of the variables are stripped away. The sales records for the past six months are clear. This is the bottom of the Manteca market as defined by affordability. The buyers of late should be pretty confident they won’t be doing any more backsliding in value.

The condos also provide a realistic look as to what to expect as time goes by. The bottom line for the condos hasn’t dropped or increased for six months. Should they start fetching consistently more than $48,000 that would be a sign of upward movement in the market.

It won’t happen for a long time and it won’t happen overnight.

Eventually the units could return to $220,000 but not any time soon.

And when they do, they will still reflect the bottom of the Manteca market for affordable and livable housing.