Real Estate

Friday, Jul 06 2012 06:06 PM

Report: Local housing market sees more buyers, fewer properties

BY ANNA BURLESON Californian staff writer aburleson@bakersfield.com

The housing market in Bakersfield has more buyers than it has houses for sale.

The supply of houses for sale in June was down 7 percent from May and down a whopping 37.1 percent compared to a year ago, according to the June Preliminary Crabtree Report, a gauge of the Bakersfield housing market prepared by Gary Crabtree of Affiliated Appraisers.

Scott Tobias, president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors, said buyers are getting frustrated and the shortage of houses is becoming a problem.

"We would sell more if we had more houses to sell," he said.

Crabtree also said since the demand for houses is higher than the supply, multiple offers are being made on one property, driving prices up.

"If you have a lesser supply and greater or equal demand, it will drive prices up," Crabtree said.

Robert Dobbs of 611 Realty has experienced this firsthand.

"Some people are bidding, 10, 20, 30 thousand over the asking prices," he said.

Even so, he said prices are still affordable, and broker John Bozeman of Bozeman & Associates Realty said houses still aren't being sold at what they were bought for before the recession.

"It's a difficult market, there's no question about it," Bozeman said. "I've been doing this for 28 years and I've never seen it like this before."

The median sale price was $145,000 in June, up $7,000 from May, but Crabtree said the time of year also contributes to the spike because people looking for homes generally buy when it's nice out.

"Aesthetically, homes look better in the summer," Crabtree said.

With the price of properties rising, the appraisal values should go up as well, but that's not the case now.

According to Crabtree, Government-Sponsored Enterprise requires all federal transactions to calculate a market analysis, but those calculations can take about three months to reflect an improving market.

The type of houses being sold are also nicer than many of the distressed, or not as highly valued properties that were available this time last year.

"Half of the properties being sold are market properties and maybe 25 percent are short sales and 25 are bank owned," Tobias said.

Crabtree said appraisers haven't caught up with that trend yet.

When an appraisal comes in lower than the agreed-upon sale price, Crabtree said, one of three things can happen:

* The seller has to lower the sales price and doesn't think they're getting a fair deal.

* The buyer has to increase the amount of the down payment.

* If either the buyer or seller doesn't think they're getting treated fairly because of the appraised value of the property, the deal can fall through.

But it isn't going to stay like this forever.

"Ultimately when the appraisals catch up, I think we're going to have an increase in prices," Tobias said.

The market has actually improved so much that people selling their homes in June were getting 99.3 percent of their asking price.

Dobbs said potential home buyers need an aggressive agent because decent homes are being bid on sight-unseen the minute they are put on the market.

"There's just so much competition and not enough inventory," he said. "The ones who want bargains aren't getting a home."

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