Troubling year for housing hunters

“We’re just not seeing the inventory,” said Mike Kelly, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Santa Rosa. “And hence, we’re not seeing the sales.”

Meanwhile, rising home prices have reduced the number of potential buyers. The county’s median home price hit a record $619,000 in August 2005, tumbled to a low of $305,000 in February 2009 and by last month had risen back to $575,000.

As prices have rebounded, first-time homebuyers say it has become hard to find anything in their price range, typically $500,000 or less. Only about a quarter of county households today can afford to purchase a median-priced home here, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Some do find success. Jonathan Garza, a registered nurse, had been looking about six months when he saw a four-bedroom, two-bath home come on the market on Cambiaso Place in Santa Rosa’s Rincon Valley. He called his real estate agent at noon to arrange a look and by 9 p.m. the owners had accepted his offer of $509,000.

“The stars aligned,” said Garza, who had one previous offer rejected. But here was a case where the sellers were looking to close quickly in order to buy another home, and no one else had yet made an offer on the home.

Belinda Andrews, a broker associate for Century 21 in Santa Rosa, said Garza succeeded because he was willing to swiftly make his best offer.

“When something comes on the market, you can’t wait,” Andrews said. “You have to go right away.”

For renters, the search for housing this year was hindered once more…

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California News
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