The U.S. economy still may be ailing, according to a panel of experts, but Pleasanton's housing market continues to defy most
More than 50 people — mostly Realtors and mortgage brokers — attended the fourth annual Real Estate Town Hall meeting Tuesday night at the Memorial Hall and heard good news about the city’s housing market. The event was hosted by the city, the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, the Bay East Association of Realtors and the Pleasanton Weekly, a local newspaper.
Realtor Otto Catrina and mortgage broker George Duarte, owner of Horizon Financial Associates, shared their insights into the market before they answered questions.
“The market is really unique now,” said Catrina, president of the Bay East Association of Realtors. “Pleasanton is on the map throughout the United States. It’s a remarkable time to buy.”
He said the fact that he has clients from Texas looking for housing is proof that that Pleasanton’s allure extends well beyond the Bay Area. He credited the area’s schools and the desirability of the community as major reasons the city’s median single-family housing price stands at $740,000. That's down from $850,000 in 2005, but well above the $500,000 price in 2000. Only 20 percent of the houses on the market in Pleasanton are foreclosures or short sales from banks, he said.
About 15 percent of the houses on the market are short sales, Duarte added.
But some challenges may lie ahead for buyers, sellers and Realtors, the two experts said. They include the possibility that interest rates on mortgages will increase; more conservative lenders; and uncertainty about changes the government may make to homeowners' tax deductions.
Pleasanton resident Larry Jackson asked about refinancing his house so he could help his two daughters buy homes. He was baffled that his home was appraised recently for $600,000 when similar homes nearby were appraised at $750,000.
Duarte and Catrina told Jackson that appraisers often don’t know an area and that he has the right to challenge an appraisal within a few days. Jackson said his appraiser came from Concord.
“I am going to tell my lender I am not buying this appraisal,” Jackson, 65, said.
Auburn resident and Realtor Jan Webster, 67, said he found the meeting helpful because he plans to move to Pleasanton.
Webster said he was amazed by how little housing prices are dropping in Pleasanton compared with Auburn, where he has seen prices drop 50 percent.
“I doubt that Pleasanton even dropped by 20 percent,” he said. “It just shows how contrary Pleasanton is real estate-wise to the majority of the nation.”