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Homes sell every 6.3 hours
Manteca on pace to sell 1,225 existing homes this year
Carol Bragan of Bragan Realty (481-3540) has just listed this foreclosure at 179 Dyer Avenue in Curran Grove for $189,900. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
A home is now closing escrow every 6.3 hours in Manteca.

It is a pace unparalleled in Manteca since the mid-1980s when a torrent of buyers flooded over the Almont Pass to snap up affordable homes – at least based on Bay Area prices – in new neighborhoods along Union Road such as the Mayors Park, St. Francis, and Greystone neighborhoods. It also is close to the buying activity in 1989-1990 that was fueled primarily by new home sales as well.

The big differences this time around are the bulk of the homes closing escrow aren’t new – they’re resale homes – while estimates by agents put the percentage of local buyers at almost 90 percent.

As of Monday, 482 existing homes had closed escrow since the start of the year in Manteca while 40 new homes have exchanged hands. Closed deals for existing homes have been averaging between 20 and 28 a week for the past three months. New homes have been selling at two to three homes closing escrow a week. Last month, though, new home starts tripled based on contracts entered into buying a home. There were 37 new housing starts in April for Manteca.

Realtors surveyed by the Bulletin report an uptick in people looking to buy homes just as the inventory is starting to shrink significantly. There were 180 resale homes listed for sale as of Monday on the Multiple Listing Service, down from 376 in January and 418 in November. A year ago in May there were 469 homes available. The glut of existing homes for sale peaked at 651 in September 2007.

More significant is there are only 40 active foreclosures in Manteca in the Multiple Listing Service. It is a far cry from six months ago when the majority of the available homes were already in foreclosure. The balance are short sales and homes that aren’t bank owned or under duress.

Foreclosures are still hitting the market in Manteca at a rate between 12 and 20 a week but the demand is so great – especially for those desirable resales that are in good shape, in good neighborhoods and reasonably priced – that the homes sell quickly.

An example of a home expected to do just that came on the market Wednesday in Curran Grove, the Spreckels park neighborhood on the southeast corner of Powers and Yosemite avenues.

It was built 10 years ago and has 1,921 square feet in a three bedroom, two bathroom floor plan complete with a swimming pool. It is listed through Braga Realty for $189,900 – essentially what it sold new for – minus the swimming pool a decade ago. Curran Grove models started in the low $160,000s when the sales office opened in 1998.

Bragan, while walking through the listing Thursday, noted that it just needed fresh paint and the carpets cleaned. (More details on the home are in today’s Manteca Bulletin Home Scene.)

If the current sales pace continues and the supply holds up, Manteca will end 2009 with 1,225 existing homes exchanging hands. That would shatter last year’s record of 1,165 resale homes closing escrow.

While low interest rates and reasonable pricing that had brought affordability to its best level in over 40 years in Manteca are helping fuel sales, the $8,000 federal tax credit is credited by agents with igniting a surge of home buying activity.

The credit - that can be claimed by anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years and is buying one to make their primary residence – provides an $8,000 tax credit on homes over $100,000 and pro-rate credits on those under $100,000.

In order to qualify for the tax credit, the home must be in contract and in escrow by Dec. 1, 2009.