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Builders enjoy best May ever with 50 sales so far
RI patio
The patio and back yard of a home at River Islands that is along one of a number of manmade lakes.

There are just a few days left to the month but already new home builders at River Islands at Lathrop have recorded their best May ever for snagging buyers.

Fifty homes have sold in May as of Monday. The month of April — the first full month of home sales ever in the United States under a stay-at-home lockdown — saw more than 40 homes sold.

“It is our strongest May ever,” noted Susan Dell’Osso, project manager for River Islands.

There were 300 scheduled tours of model homes this past weekend. That is up from 30 the first weekend of the lockdown in mid-March.

Dell’Osso said the independent builders of neighborhoods at River Islands have been particularly nimble and flexible. She noted that on top of in-person scheduled tours, sales office staff for various builders has worked hard to accommodate potential buyers by walking throughout every model for personalized remote viewings using livestreaming on various platforms before booking an on-site tour. In some instances in late March during the lockdown people have bought homes without physically stepping into a model.

New Manteca home sales in April were down just slightly based on 30 building permit requests that were processed by the City of Manteca for new homes. Based on a survey of several Manteca new home builders Tuesday, new home sales appear to be picking back up in The Family City as well.

Dell’Osso said River Islands marketing quickly shifted to selling points that made the 11,000-home plus planned community standout in the reality changes the pandemic has triggered. That includes an open neighborhood design that eclipses virtually all new home developments in the Bay Area and the fact virtually every model offered by builders have spaces purposely designed for home offices.

River Islands has limited access points and will be devoid of the type of retail that typically will draw consumers from nearby communities means less congestion. The fact there is extensive open spaces and lakes — as well as a contiguous greenbelt park that will create an 18-mile loop of the island — give the neighborhoods a more open feel while at the same time pursuing more robust use of lot space for homes.

But what could arguably be the biggest draw going forward for River Islands as well as the rest of Lathrop, Manteca, and Ripon as well as much of the rest of the Northern San Joaquin Valley are decisions by a growing number of Bay Area tech firms to move from the pandemic toward allowing a larger chunk of their workforce permanently work primarily from home.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg intends to have half of his 50,000 workers do just that by 2030.

Urban planning experts have been quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal saying less dense areas in the Bay Area such as San Jose would likely benefit. The general consensus is workers will still want to be in fairly close proximity of their employers’ headquarters.

That would make the peripheral edges of the Bay Area such as the Northern San Joaquin Valley a more appealing option given it is not simply less dense and has lower housing prices but the fact elimination of a daily commute except for periodic trips to work headquarters would greatly relieve stress as well as allow more time for workers to spend with families.

Whether the trend indeed takes hold, River Islands is already well positioned to draw Bay Area buyers looking for more traditional single family homes due to the dearth of such new development west of the Altamont Pass as well as the fact virtually all new homes sell for close to — or over — seven figures in the Bay Area.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email