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Guest column by real estate broker Beth Moran–
Every year, real estate agents crowd the Sacramento Association of Realtors auditorium to listen to the California Association of Realtors Deputy Chief Economist give an overview of the coming year.
Initially 2019’s outlook wasn’t as bad as the nightly news reported at the end of 2018, as the forecast at that time was a 7 percent decline in sales with 370,000 sales units expected statewide.
On the local level, in 2019 Citrus Heights ended up with 1,261 sold residential properties, with the lowest priced home, a condo, closing at $125,000 and the most expensive home closing at $685,000.
As the statewide unsold inventory increased from 2 months to 4.6 months, Citrus Heights had the opposite experience. Citrus Heights’ inventory declined from 2.4 months of inventory down to 1 month of inventory.
Additionally, Citrus Heights homes didn’t sit on the market, as the average days on market started out in January 2019 at 38 days and dropped to 24 days by December 2019. Unsold inventory determines if a market favors buyers or sellers, and these numbers indicate Citrus Heights continues to be a seller’s market.
In 2012, 50% of Californians could afford to buy a home but in February 2019 only 32% could afford to purchase, according to a survey by the California Association of Realtors. This could explain why sales were so quick in 2019 in Citrus Heights, as the average price of a home started out at $217 price per square foot and increased to $239.
Last year, there were 133 homes on the market on Jan. 1, while this year there are only 55. This seems low, even despite the time of year when home sellers typically take properties off the market for the holidays.
In July 2019, the 10-year recovery mark from the great recession occurred and housing purchases reflected this as consumers took advantage of low interest rates. Citrus Heights experienced this firsthand as a community considered by first time homes buyers. Unfortunately, the limited inventory coupled with increasing prices of homes forced people considering a purchase to look elsewhere.
Part of the problem stems from boomers not being willing to downsize, and an increase of millennials starting families. In Citrus Heights, 2020 started out with a median price of $358,888, with an average square footage of 1,578. The median is the half-way mark between the highest and lowest priced home on the market, where half the homes are priced lower and half are priced higher.
For Citrus Heights, this is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, with most areas offering a backyard and attached garage. These numbers do not exclude condos, but the majority of homes are detached single-family residences.
It’s hard to believe that starter homes in Citrus Heights average over $350,000, but those are the numbers millennials in the Central Valley must contend with.
As housing needs become more prominent with the lack of inventory and the increased cost to build, we need to consider alternatives.
Citrus Heights currently struggles with increasing vacant commercial space at Sunrise Mall (and other areas), so why not consider a co-op, mixed-use situation to revitalize that part of Citrus Heights and increase inventory and affordability?
There are plenty of buyers willing to pay more for upscale homes within walking distance to restaurants and services. Additionally, adjacent to the mall is a new home subdivision, Mitchell Farms, increasing the need for walkability versus car dependency.
This could create a city center that would attract more investment and create higher paid jobs. As we move into the 20’s, I hope we meet the challenge to stem the loss of natives who cannot afford to purchase and begin to create more affordable housing, particularly in Citrus Heights.
Beth Moran is a local real estate broker living in Citrus Heights. She can be reached at 916-947-3993 or email Beth@SacAgent.com. Information cited was obtained from CAR Statistics and local Metrolist.
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