Saturday, June 09, 2007

Housing slump isn't hurting local developments

Still selling
Housing slump isn't hurting local developments
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer
Article Launched: 06/09/2007 11:20:41 AM PDT

New homes are under construction in Seeno Homes' North Village development in Vacaville. Sales at such developments remain brisk. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)
Despite reports that Bay Area homes sold at the slowest pace in 12 years this past April, local new home developments aren't feeling the effects of the housing slump.

Sales agents at local developments said they weren't having much trouble attracting buyers and unloading inventory.

"I don't feel like we've been affected at all," said Serina Carlos, community sales manager for the Portico at North Village development in Vacaville. "We have waiting lists."

Carlos said Portico's first phase of sales ended in just a month and a half.

Still, sales agents admit that buyers are hesitant about the current market and worry about being able to sell their homes in the future. Those concerns are evident in April's home sales figures for Solano County, which show a 37.2 percent drop in the number of homes sold from April of last year.

That means developers are now offering to cover closing costs, and often throw in extra design features to sweeten the deal.

"We have to work harder," said Lisa Lipps, community sales manager for Atrium at North Village in Vacaville. "We have to project our product as being superior during this time. People are cautious, so we just have to overcome their concerns."

Carlos said they are also reassuring buyers by offering a program, which she declined to elaborate on, that will help buyers sell their properties later on.

Lipps said buyers are also hesitant because they feel a better deal may be around the corner. She and others in the real estate business cautioned against waiting much longer.

"They're just sitting in the wings thinking that home prices are going to go down more and more," said local Realtor Steven Kappel. "But there comes a point that if they wait, interest rates will go up and then it's a wash."

Kappel said hesitant buyers have also led to more pressure on existing-home sellers.

"There's a lot of competition," he said. "Your house has to stand out. It has to be in the best shape for the price."

Despite cautious buyers, Lipps was optimistic about sales this summer, and beyond. She said she only had 10 more homes left, and expected to sell them all in the next month.

"We're not afraid of the market," she said. "We still think that people want to live here and it's a good value. To me, it's more of a challenge than that it's come to a stop. People are still purchasing homes every week."

Shelly Meron can be reached at

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