Monday, February 06, 2006

Executive Homes increase in Solano County

Article Launched: 02/04/2006 08:10:00 AM

Like a million bucks...
Solano's stock of seven-figure homes on the rise

By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

An aerial view shows the home of Diedre Siciliani on Vine Place in Vacaville, which is on the market for nearly $1.3 million. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

Seven-figure home sales in Solano County are soaring.

Sales in the million-plus range rose by 153 percent between 2004 and 2005, compared to a 25 percent increase in neighboring Napa and a 68 percent increase in Contra Costa, according to DataQuick Information Systems. The real estate information service estimated that 1 in every 8 Bay Area homes sold for $1 million or more, though Solano County - where the median home price hovers around $500,000 - had, by far, the most pronounced rise.

Currently, there are 58 listings of million-dollar-plus residential homes for sale in the county, according to a database run by Bay Area Real Estate Information Services.

Part of the rise in sales can be attributed to increasing home values, explained John Stallings, managing broker of Country Estates, which has extensive experience in such home sales in Green Valley, Suisun Valley, Gordon Valley, Rancho Solano and Vacaville.

And, he said, the increase is also due to "the fact that Solano County is still one of the least expensive places to buy - you can't find property in other counties like you can here, for what is considered relatively low prices."

Elizabeth Fry, owner of Vacaville's Showcase Properties, shared Stallings' inferences and noted, "We just started hitting the million-dollar mark about three years ago. We're selling more and more." In fact, she said, her firm has more buyers looking at the million-plus price range, as opposed to the $700,000 to $1 million range.

She surveyed such Vacaville home buyers, and found that nearly 85 percent were local business owners and professionals purchasing larger or more expensive homes that their previous residences.

Stallings shared similar observations. "There seem to be a lot of baby boomers that are getting into their prime income age, and getting to the point now where they're trading up from other properties. There seem to be more people interested in buying property with more space, rather than living in areas where they feel that the houses are close together."

In Vacaville, Fry explained that the majority of higher-priced homes are on the perimeters of the city, such as the project her firm just had approved in English Hills. The new gated development, Dove Creek Ranch, will feature 32 lots that average two-acres.

"We plan to attract home builders that will do custom packages for people, and those I anticipate will be in the $1.5 to $2 million range," she noted.

Other Vacaville neighborhoods whose homes tout seven-figure price tags, she said, include Gibson Canyon, North Alamo, Wykoff, Pleasant Valley, and North Vine.

Diedre Siciliani is selling her Vine Place home in order to build on an eight-acre parcel in Red Bluff.

"I love Vacaville," she said, "I just need more land."

Siciliani bought the Vine Place home in 1996 for $225,000, and is now listing the approximately 3,000-square-foot residence at nearly $1.3 million.

"I wake up thinking I'm in Marin sometimes," she joked, as she discussed how quickly real estate value in the neighborhood has increased.

"You say Vine Place or Vine Street nowadays and people's eyebrows raise because of the gated community at the far end," Siciliani explained.

Vacaville's assistant director for community development, Chris Gustin, confirmed that many of the custom homes being built in communities such as Vine Meadows or Reynolds Ranch will likely reach the seven figure mark.

"There's no doubt in our mind," he added, "that some of the stuff in Lagoon Valley will hit that much." Gustin wasn't sure, however, whether production homes - as opposed to custom homes - would fall into that category.

Gustin said the increase in million-dollar price tags is beneficial for the city's image and ability to attract businesses and their executives.

"It says you're up and coming, that you've got a full range of residents," he noted.

He explained that creating executive-level housing was a goal the city council established several years ago, and that the city is, indeed, delivering.

"That's going to help attract the Genentechs and other big businesses," he maintained.

Amanda Janis can be reached at

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