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Has Manteca bottomed out?
Prices rise slightly after 14 straight quarters of falling
GROWTH-CAP1-01-13-08
Housing prices may have hit bottom in mid-2009 in Manteca based on assessment data. - photo by Bulletin file photo
The median value of homes changing hands in Manteca ended 2.5 years of freefall sometime during the summer of 2009.

Prices peaked in the first quarter of 2006 at $455,000 and dropped all the way to $190,000 in the second quarter of 2009 before bouncing up to $200,000 in the third quarter of 2009 based on data collected by the San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office.

Median selling prices edged back up to $205,941 by year’s end.

The data reflects both existing home sales and new home sales.

That is good news for the City of Manteca as it means property tax assessments aren’t likely to fall again but instead remain flat. Sales tax also appears to be doing the same thing - at least in Manteca - meaning the city’s deficit projection for the fiscal year starting July 1 is likely not to go higher than the previously estimated $3.8 million and could actually be slightly lower when taking all revenue into consideration.

That’s good news as many jurisdictions are expected to see more drop-offs in property and sales tax - the two biggest revenue sources for local governments in California.

The 2009 data provides the critical snapshot on Jan. 1, 2010 for determining tax assessments for the upcoming assessment rolls that are due out in July or August.

It is a significant turnaround from a year earlier when market data used to determine assessments plunged the value of property in Manteca by $500.3 million or a 14.7 percent drop. At the same time Tracy dropped 18.1 percent and Lathrop was down 15.7 percent, Stockton 12.9 percent and Ripon 9.6 percent.

The assessor’s data shows it is unlikely that existing homes under Proposition 13 will be hit this year with a 2 percent jump as allowed under the voter approved imitative since 2009 had negative inflation.

Realtor Tom Wilson noted the assessor’s data reflects what many real estate agents on the frontline as well as local investors believe has happened which is the Manteca market has indeed hit bottom.

“The market is starting to show signs of moving back to normal with equilibrium between buyers and sellers,” Wilson said.

Wilson is among those who contend the current Manteca market is undervalued even by today’s standards. The reason is many of the foreclosures are owned by investment groups and not banks. They do not have a handle on the Manteca-Ripon market and instead lump it into Stockton and Modesto when pricing foreclosed homes.

“This is still a good time for first-time buyers,” Wilson added.

But for how long is anyone’s guess. One carrot - the state’s $10,000 tax credit for home buyers - runs through Dec. 31. Wilson, though, pointed to California Association of Realtors tracking that projects the $100 million will be gone within 45 to 60 days.

“Sometime this summer that tax credit money will run out,” Wilson said.

Wilson cautioned not to expect the market to start climbing anytime soon although he does foresee the strong possibility of an “uptick” in prices to adjust for under valuation as a possibility on the relatively short-term horizon.