Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Granville Homes commits $100K to ‘Talking is Teaching’ campaign

Source: The Business Journal

 Granville Homes will contribute $100,000 to a new campaign launched this month to boost the early brain development and language skills of young children in Fresno. The campaign, titled “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read, Sing,” is a community-wide effort targeted at area children ranging in age from infants up to 5-year-olds. The program is part of a promotion called “Too Small to Fail,” a joint initiative of Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. “The best return on investment is the investment we make in our kids,” said Kendra Rogers, Granville’s director of community investment. The campaign has also drawn the support of local business and community leaders including Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino, Fowler Unified School District Superintendent Eric Cederquist and Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp. Organizers said the program will aim to close the so-called “word gap,” a difference of about 30 million more words that children in high-income families hear from parents and caregivers by their fourth birthday compared to children in low-income families. The fewer words children hear and learn, campaign organizers said, the more likely they are to experience an achievement gap, which persists through kindergarten and has a life-long impact on health and well-being. The project consists of a community-wide, multi-media campaign that highlights for parents and caregivers simple actions that can be done every day – like describing objects seen during a bus ride, asking questions, singing songs, reading aloud, or telling stories – actions that can significantly improve a baby’s ability to build vocabulary and develop their brains, according to early education experts. Campaign messages will appear on billboards, bus ads and in paid media spots. The donation from Granville Homes will serve as initial funding for the paid media campaign. Local organizations, churches, libraries and health care providers will help to distribute campaign materials. “I have often said that good public policy is the best philanthropy,” Granville President Darius Assemi said. “I hope our elected officials and policymakers will lead in these efforts, and join us as we talk, read and sing to our children. This will be a game changer for Fresno County.”

 URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/construction/15882-granville-homes-commits-100k-to-talking-is-teaching-campaign 

 For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Monday, January 26, 2015

Realtors: Distressed home sales fell in December

Source: The Business Journal

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) is reporting that distressed home sales in the Central Valley decreased last month compared to December 2013. In Fresno County, distressed homes accounted for 19 percent of total single-family home sales in December, down from the 24 percent reported in December 2013. Month-over-month there was a slight increase, however, as distressed sales accounted for 16 percent of total sales in November 2014. Year-over-year distressed home sales in Kings County also dipped, with CAR reporting 26 percent in December 2014 compared to 28 percent the previous year. Distressed sales increased month-over-month, with only 17 percent reported in November 2014. Both Tulare and Madera County saw year-over-year and month-over-month decreases for distressed home sales, according to CAR. Madera County distressed home sales represented 13 percent of total sales last month compared to 14 percent in November 2014 and 20 percent in December 2013. Distressed home sales comprised 16 percent of total sales in Tulare County in December, compared to 17 percent the previous month and 26 percent in December 2013. Statewide, the number of distressed sales recorded by CAR in December, 10.2 percent, was down from a year ago, when the share was 15.6 percent.

 URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/real-estate/15804-realtors-distressed-home-sales-fell-in-december 

For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Monday, January 5, 2015

Most expensive home of '14: $2.38M in Fresno

Source: The Business Journal
 Written by Hannah Esqueda

 The Central Valley's luxury home market continues to be supported by local buyers rather than out-of-town relocations, meaning most buyers have worked their way up to $1 million-plus homes. Local business owners and farmers are among the most common buyers, said Paula Conner, an agent with London Properties who has handled several $1 million-plus home sales between October 2013 and September 2014. “The farming community has been really good this year,” she said. While several homes included in The Business Journal's list of Most Expensive Home Sales (published Dec. 26, 2014) were purchased for more than $1.5 million, the top honor went to a home in Northwest Fresno that sold for $2.38 million in February. Located at 7296 N. Gentry Ave., the 7,200-square-foot home is in one of the most popular areas of the Central Valley's luxury home market, said Guarantee Real Estate agent Rama Ambati. “It sits on almost two acres with beautiful views of the San Joaquin Golf Course, river and mountains,” she said. Ambati acted as both the selling and listing agent on the property and said such views are extremely desirable for luxury homebuyers and can help raise the price of even smaller homes. Built in 1989, the home has since been completely remodeled and now features four bedrooms, six bathrooms, custom limestone and walnut floors, onyx counters, a wine cellar, heated infinity edge pool, four-car garage and outdoor kitchen complete with a pizza oven. A horse corral and run area lay on one acre of the property. The home was paid for in cash, which is fairly common for luxury homes in the market according to both Ambati and Conner. However, with interest rates remaining low on home loans, both agents said loan purchases may grow more common in 2015. Ambati said it is still rare for properties to sell above the $2 million mark in the Central Valley, but that she expects the price will eventually become the norm for area luxury homes. This is evidenced by the fact that each of the top five most expensive home sales included in The Business Journal's list was in excess of $1.9 million. But at least year-over-year, the price of the top house came down a bit. The most expensive home of 2013 was sold in Clovis for $2.8 million. In 2012, the most expensive home was the only property on the list to even break the $2 million mark. Ambati said the home on 7296 N. Gentry Ave. was on the market for more than two years before being sold, a fact she attributes to the original asking price of $3 million. However, the property sold within six week of her acting as agent. “Once we lowered the price, it sold very quickly,” Ambati said. The No. 2 property on the list sold for $1.93 million and is located at 12431 N. Friant Rd. in Fresno. It featured 8,826 square feet of space with six bedrooms and five bathrooms on a 9-acre lot. Joe Sciarrone of London Properties was the listing and selling agent. While it can be challenging to advertise Fresno and the Central Valley as a luxury market, Ambati said most buyers are local and already know what they're looking for in a property. Homebuyers typically go for houses near a golf course or river view in the northern parts of town, she said. High-end amenities like quality construction and design, wine cellars, home theaters, spacious entertainment areas and elaborate outdoor kitchens are also popular features that help draw clients to particular homes, Ambati said. Large properties and acreage also help sell homes on the luxury market since many buyers are looking to expand their personal space, Conner said, noting that one of the homes she sold this past year included a 10-car garage. “That's a bit unusual,” she admitted. One of the most expensive sales Conner handled came in September when she sold a five bedroom, eight bathroom, 11,775-square-foot home with a more moderate three-car garage. Located at 2725 W. Lake Van Ness Circle in Fresno, the 28,800-square-foot property stretches across two lots. Conner was the listing agent while Munish Ghai acted as the selling agent for the home, which came in at No. 9 on this year’s list. “In the foyer you feel like you have arrived in a palace, grand columns lead past the private office and into the pond room with views of the koi ponds,” reads the property description. “Continuing through the dual staircases you enter the great room with its panoramic view of the lake, cathedral ceilings and fabulous built-ins.” The home also boasts a spacious kitchen, full-sized bar and lounge area, his and her dressing rooms, elevator, media room and billiard room. While the home was short of the $2 million mark — the property sold for $1.6 million — both Conner and Ambati said they predict the luxury market will see more action north of that figure in 2015. “It used to be that when a home sold for more than $1 million in Fresno it was a big deal, but now I think that figure is $2 million and we are starting to see more of those sales. Soon that threshold will be even higher” Ambati said. “The recession had put a damper on the luxury home market, but we are finally out of it.”

URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/real-estate/15454-most-expensive-home-of-14-2-38m-in-fresno 

For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Valley construction sees bright spots in 2014

Source: The Business Journal
Written by Ben Keller, Business Journal staff writer

Despite an overall drop in permit values, the Central Valley's construction industry saw marked improvement in 2014, especially in some key commercial sectors. Throughout Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties, 15,012 construction permits were issued to builders in the year, according to a weekly report by Construction Monitor. That's up 30.2 percent from 2013 when 11,527 permits were issued. Of the permits awarded in the year, 13,429 were for residential construction compared to 9,924 the year before. Commercial permits, on the other hand, fell slightly from 1,604 in 2013 to 1,583 this year. Among those, offices, banks and professional buildings went from 72 to 57 permits with total value going from $58.12 million to $52.35 million Permits for industrial, manufacturing buildings and warehouses went from 61 to 39 with construction values dropping from $66.07 million to $48.95 million, while retail, warehouses and dining projects fell from 52 permits to 35 matched by construction values falling from $60.33 million to $24.06 million. Alternative commercial energy projects had a good year, however, with 128 permits trumping 2013's 78 and construction values soaring from $110.92 million last year to $136.25 million this year. Permits for commercial remodels and additions fell from 825 to 815 but construction values increased from $133.88 million to $166.08 million. The value of all construction permits stood at $1.39 billion in 2014, down 4.8 percent from $1.46 billion last year. Residential construction values alone fell 12.7 percent, going from $960.54 million to $838.47 million. However, the value of commercial construction permits went from $502.79 million to $554.63 million for a 10.3-percent jump. Lennar Fresno topped the list of home builders working in the Central Valley in 2014 with 359 permits awarded in the year at a total value of $95.48 million. The company was followed by Woodside Homes with 199 permits totaling $50.76 million, Wilson Homes with 184 permits of $42.55 million, Wathen Homes with 195 permits of $41.36 million and Bonadelle Homes with 117 permits of $33.72 million. Solar installer First Solar Electric was the largest builder of commercial projects in the Valley with eight permits valued at $78.11 million followed by Roebbelen with one permit of $32.18 million, Target Constructors with 25 permits of $17.96 million, City of Fresno with 21 permits of $17.05 million and Quiring General with five permits of $16.42 million.

URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/construction/15401-valley-construction-sees-bright-spots-in-2014 

For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Friday, December 19, 2014

Keep Your Home California expands unemployment program

Source: The Fresno Bee
By BoNhia Lee

Keep Your Home California has made a change to one of its four foreclosure relief programs to help homeowners struggling to find a job. The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program has expanded from 12 months to 18 months. That means homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the Employment Development Department can receive up to $3,000 a month in mortgage payment help, or a total of $54,000, for 18 months. The limit was previously 12 months and $36,000. The unemployment assistance program was designed to allow homeowners to focus on finding a job rather than worrying about mortgage payments. “California’s economy continues to improve, but we’re far from a complete recovery and there are many homeowners who are still struggling,” said Tia Boatman Patterson, executive director of the California Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Keep Your Home California. “We’re always looking at ways to improve the program and we are confident these changes will help more homeowners get much-needed help.” Homeowners currently enrolled in the program can have their eligibility extended.
 For information, visit keepyourhomecalifornia.org.

 Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/12/18/4292130/keep-your-home-california-expands.html#storylink=cpy 

 For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Valley home sales spiral down in November

Source: The Business Journal

Homes sales plummeted in the Central Valley during November as prices continued to tick up, straining affordability for many. According to a new report from the California Association of Realtors, homes sales in Fresno County fell 20.9 percent from October to November and 3.7 percent compared to November 2013. The median price of a home in the county stood at $200,000 in November, down just 0.3 percent from the prior month but up 3.6 percent compared to $193,020 a year ago. Home sales in Tulare County plunged 25.9 percent from October and 15.8 percent compared to November 2013. The price of a median home in the county stood at $187,000 in November, up 4.4 percent from $179,060 the prior month and 15 percent from $161,330 last year. Madera County saw its home sales fall 4.3 percent during the latest month but increase 10 percent in the year-over-year comparison. The county's median home price shot up by 42 percent in November to $235,710 from October's price of $166,000. That's also up 47.3 percent from $160,000 a year ago. Home sales in Kings County were down 21.9 percent compared to October and 10.9 percent year-over-year. The county's median home price increased 14.1 percent in the month, going from $168,670 in October to $192,500 in November. That's also up 12.1 percent from $171,670 last year. Home sales may have decreased in the Valley but the available supply of houses was on the rise. Fresno County's unsold inventory index, or number of months to deplete the supply of homes at the current sales rate, was up to 5.7 months in November compared to 4.9 months in October and 5.1 months a year ago. Tulare County's index stood at 5.5 months compared to 4.4 months in October and 4 months last year. Madera County's index increased to 5.1 months from 4.9 months in October, but remained below 5.2 months last year. Kings County's index went from 3.6 months in October and 3.9 months a year ago to 4.4 months in November. Statewide, home sales totaled 376,480 units in November, down 5.3 percent from 397,400 October and also down 3.4 percent from 389,580 in November 2013. "The declining sales-to-list price ratio suggests that mismatched expectations of home prices between sellers and buyers still exist in most markets, except for the Bay Area, where there’s a dearth of homes for sale," said 2015 C.A.R. President Chris Kutzkey. "Prospective buyers facing affordability constraints recognize the slowing housing market and are looking for deals, while many sellers are still reluctant to adjust their listing prices to reflect the moderation of price gains in recent months."

 URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/real-estate/15270-valley-home-sales-spiral-down-in-november 

For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Housing authority gets $121K to help homeless vets

Source: The Business Journal

The Fresno Housing Authority is set to receive $121,000 from the U.S. departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs to assist homeless veterans in securing permanent housing. Altogether, the departments announced $13.53 million in rental vouchers to local public housing agencies as part of their HUD-Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing (HUD-VASH) program. The money will help an additional 1,984 homeless veterans find and afford permanent housing. With the $121,000 for the Fresno Housing Authority, the agency will be able to award 22 rental vouchers to veterans once they are referred by the VA Central California Health Care System from its Fresno medical center. Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. The Department of Veterans Affairs also offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers as part of the program. Since HUD-VASH funding began in 2008, the two agencies have supported vouchers for 68,000 homeless Veterans, including 12,369 homeless veterans in California. Last October, the two agencies awarded $62 million in HUD-VASH vouchers to assist more than 9,000 homeless veterans nationwide. The latest award of $4.9 million to California public housing agencies will provide rental assistance for an additional 579 homeless veterans in the state.

URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/government-and-politics/15053-housing-authority-gets-121k-to-help-homeless-vets 

For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Madera planning commission green lights Tesoro Viejo

Source: The Business Journal

Tesoro Viejo, the McCaffrey Group's master-planned community in southeastern Madera County, received unanimous approval of its first Village by the Madera County Planning Commission. Located off Highway 41, the 1,600 acre site will have more than 5,000 units and be at the heart of Madera's planned growth area in southeastern Madera County. Tesoro Viejo will be developed by McCaffrey Group and Lyles United. "Not only will it offer homebuyers a quality home built by leaders in the industry, but it will also remedy the housing needs throughout Madera County - which is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation," said Max Rodriguez, Madera County Supervisor. "The community will add value and amenities to support continued growth, generate thousands of jobs and sustain a vibrant environment." Tesoro Viejo is situated at the foot of Little Table Mountain and will include housing and business opportunities, a walkable Town Center, green living, neighborhood parks and an elementary school. The community will also allow for more than 15 miles of scenic nature trails and 400 acres of natural open spaces and parks. Development plans call for seven unique villages with a variety of housing choices ranging from courtyard-living designs to expansive ranch-style hillside estates.

URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/development/14660-madera-planning-commission-green-lights-tesoro-viejo 

For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fresno home prices rose in September

Source: The Business Journal

Home prices increased in Fresno by 7.7 percent in September 2014 compared to last year, according to new data from real estate statistics firm CoreLogic. Month-over-month, home prices, excluding distressed home sales, increased by 0.4 percent in September. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased by 7.5 percent in September 2014 compared to September 2013. While on a month-over-month basis excluding distressed sales, the CoreLogic Home Price Index showed a 0.5 percent increase in September 2014. Across the state, home prices, including distressed sales, rose 8.5 percent in September 2014. Excluding distressed sales, the figure dropped to 7.6 percent. Nationally, home prices including distressed sales increased 5.6 percent in September 2014 compared to the same time last year. This change marks 31 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices. On a month-to-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, dropped by 0.1 percent in September 2014 compared to August 2014.

 URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/real-estate/14573-fresno-home-prices-rose-in-september 

For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com

Monday, November 3, 2014

As housing market recovers, roadblocks remain

Source: The Business Journal
Written by Hannah Esqueda

Despite median home prices and sales of homes in the Central Valley increasing since the recession, industry experts warn that many obstacles still remain for homebuyers. Concerns over job security and market stability are some of the main reasons we are becoming a nation of renters, said Selma Happ, senior economist with the California Association of Realtors. Happ was the keynote speaker during the 2014 Fresno Housing Market Symposium at Fresno State last week. “Those under 40 are the least likely to have recovered from the recession,” Happ said. The market was once driven by this younger generation but not anymore, and more individuals are postponing buying a home. This trend has helped to put the breaks on the growth of the housing market that had seen record growth until last summer. And while the Fresno market has seen new interest because of the high-speed rail project, Fresno's younger generation is still unlikely to stop renting anytime soon. “We have found that in California, 50 percent of [18-24-year-olds] are still living with their parents,” she said. Those who aren't living at home are renting and Happ reported that 80 percent of investors surveyed say they would rather rent than flip properties. Further confounding the issue, the unemployment rate in Fresno is still very high — 9.5 percent in September — compared to the 6.9 percent average in the rest of the state and California only recovered the number of jobs lost during the recession this past July. “This doesn’t account for all the new people looking for jobs in the state who weren't old enough or lived here before,” Happ said. On the other side of the home-buying process, Happ said that fewer young people are interested in becoming real estate agents. The California Association of realtors has found that fewer college students are interested in careers in real estate or appraising, leaving a void in the market once the current workforce ages out. Jared Martin, executive committee member of the Fresno Association of Realtors, said this is because the housing market still scares most people. College students grew up when the recession was at its worst, and that event left a mark on them when they began thinking about what types of careers they wanted, he said. “Even after I became a realtor, I kept my bar-tending job,” he said. “I would encourage young people looking to become realtors to still hang on to that nighttime job for a while.” While the housing market has since stabilized, young people on either side of the market are still skittish about fully committing. Happ said she thinks this hesitation will be highlighted as market begins to feel the fallout from the drought. Less food and job security will keep individuals from making such a large purchase and buying a home. John Shore, executive director of Community Housing Council of Fresno, agreed and said that while many individuals may be interested in buying a home, few understand the process. Their lack of knowledge makes them feel vulnerable and they and are easily scared away, he said. While his organization offers a free course for first-time home-buyers, very few people in the community know or take advantage of it, he said. Despite the negative trends, John Bonadelle, CEO of Bonadelle Neighborhoods, said there is still great demand for new homes in the Fresno market, it's just a matter of finding a balance between what buyers want and what's possible under the current market constraints. Most local homebuyers have larger families and are looking for homes with a greater number of bedrooms. To meet this demand, Bonadelle said his company is increasing the home size while decreasing yards. Smaller lots are also a key trend, he said as the land supply in cities like Fresno and Clovis is dwindling. Developers are now looking toward smaller towns like Sanger and Tulare that are willing to increase their sphere of influence.

URL to original article: http://www.thebusinessjournal.com/news/real-estate/14520-as-housing-market-recovers-roadblocks-remain

 For further information on Fresno Real Estate check: http://www.londonproperties.com