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1,000 home sales so far in 09
1 in 9 houses change hands in 34 months
This two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 888-square-foot home at 318 E. Center St. listed through Jim Muthart of Coldwell Banker Crossroads real Estate closed escrow on Oct. 16 for $65,000. It had been listed for $66,900. - photo by Bulletin file photo
Manteca reached a milestone once thought unattainable this week for the second time in two years – 1,000 existing homes sold in less than 10 months.

“It really does make you stop and take notice,” noted Tom Wilson of Wilson Group Realtors. “It is a good sign as there are a lot of first-time home buyers who couldn’t afford to buy before.”

Existing homes have been closing escrow at a clip of roughly 3.3 homes a day during the first 41 weeks of 2008. That compares to 1.1 homes a day in 2006.

Wilson noted it is a sign that demand is strong especially since standing inventory – unsold homes - is now at 161 compared to 651 homes at the peak of the market slowdown in September 2007.
There are only two drawbacks from Wilson’s perspective – unrealistic pricing by bank asset management units and the fact cash buyers have a major advantage.

“There needs to be something done to put first-time buyers on equal footing with all-cash buyers,” Wilson said.

Wilson noted –as have other agents – that the bulk of sales going through now are to investors who are turning the homes into rentals although some are investing $10,000 to $20,000 in repairs and upgrades and then flipping them for $40,000 more.

Wilson believes that doesn’t bode well for Manteca in the long-run as neighborhoods dominated by rentals have a greater tendency to deteriorate.

“Rentals usually don’t take as good care of property as an owner occupant,” Wilson said.

Wilson said it is frustrating when buyers are making 20 to 30 offers for homes before they finally are able to secure one.

Realtors have been complaining that asset managers at banks often have no clue of market conditions. They either price homes too high or – in the case of many in Manteca – too low.

The result is all cash offers become king since there is a concern on the bank’s part if property won’t appraise higher which in turn ace out first-time buyers who offered more money based on nearby sales. As a result, banks are taking less for property than what is being offered as they somehow believe it is risky waiting another 30 days or so for a loan to be processed.

The end result is there is no upward pressure on prices.

The median selling price of the 1,000 homes sold far this year is $177,500. That compares to $225,000 for the 1,185 homes sold in Manteca in 2008, $345,000 for the 402 homes sold in 2007, and $413,000 for 627 homes sold in 2006.

There have been 2,567 homes sold in the last 34 months in Manteca. That is roughly just over one in every nine of the city’s 23,000 existing housing units.