Californians itching to escape the city and snag a record low mortgage rate are flooding the Calaveras County home market with cash.
Century 21 Sierra Properties General Manager Jesse Gibbs says that home sales for the months of June and July in the county increased by 75 since last year, and land sales have nearly doubled. The upper Highway 4 corridor has been at the center of the boom, with properties flying off the market from Murphys to Dorrington within days of being listed – sometimes at prices far above the listing price.
The spike in sales has been across all levels, ranging from lower-priced homes to million-dollar mansions, he said.
Within a two-month period, 370 properties have sold in Calaveras County, primarily to buyers from the Bay Area and Central Valley. Gibbs thinks that increased telecommuting during the pandemic is giving those who are tired of the expenses and hazards of city life an opportunity to get out.
“This has just created kind of a frenzy,” Gibbs said.
Thus far, it’s only been good news for local homeowners. According to Gibbs, there have been no upticks in foreclosures or short sales – just increases in home equity due to rising prices.
“COVID maybe has created that trend that we needed to have happen,” he said.
However, the boom hasn’t equally impacted Amador and Tuolumne counties.
Kimberly Darr, owner of a Century 21 real estate office in Twain Harte, hypothesizes that a lack of inventory could be contributing to the disparity in sales.
“Sellers are a little hesitant in a time of COVID,” Darr said. “In that first month, people didn’t want to list their home, wondering if it’s safe to list (their) home and have people come through.”
In Tuolumne County, residential and land sales have both increased compared to June and July of last year, but not to the same degree as Calaveras County. In Amador County, sales have decreased.
“It’s still busy, but not the craziness you’ve seen in Calaveras County,” Darr said.
Darr added that COVID-19 rules requiring potential buyers to pre-qualify for a mortgage before viewing a home and follow strict safety guidelines while viewing haven’t dampened sales. In fact, she believes the new way of showing homes could be here to stay.
“It’s narrowed it down to buyers who are focused and willing to follow safety guidelines,” Darr said. “In all honesty, we’ve settled in with (the rules). The industry is just adapting. No more open houses. … Realtors are doing a great job with Facebook Live open houses, iPhone and FaceTime appointments.”