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Auburn home sales numbers take a turn

Has the Auburn housing market hit bottom?
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Local real estate numbers indicate it’s become a more competitive market in the Auburn-area. There were 40.7 percent more homes pending sale last month in the Auburn-area than in Nov. 2010, according to Trendgraphix, which gathers real estate statistics. Auburn real estate agents say while the housing market hasn’t made a complete recovery, now is a good time to buy and many people are finally deciding to sell after trying to wait out the declining market. Some locals say that is creating more competition amongst buyers. Others agree that now is a prime time to buy a home, but say it’s not the best time to sell one. “I don’t think it has hit bottom,” said Carolyn Metzker, a Realtor with Lyon Real Estate, in Auburn. “Overall we are in a declining market. We won’t know we have recovered until we are about 6 months out of it.” Metzker said the benefit of a declining market is the opportunity to buy a home at a low interest rate. “With interest rates as low as they are now it’s a fantastic time for home buyers,” Metzker said. She said while the declining market may mean people are selling their homes for less, it also means they are purchasing their new homes at a better interest rate and tax base. Recently, she said a lot of investors and people looking to move from the Bay Area and Los Angeles have being looking for homes in Auburn. Homeowners with equity are also warming to the idea of selling their homes. “They have waited for six years and now they are at a point where they need to move on with their plans,” Metzker said. Metzker said one upside of a down market is that sellers have less competition because there is less inventory overall. Competition abounds Two of Metzker’s clients Brandee and Jeff Ambrosia buy homes as investments. The Ambrosias own homes that they rent out in Roseville, Loomis and recently bought one in Auburn. Brandee Ambrosia said the market for investment homes is competitive. She said many investors are getting approved for homes before first-time buyers. “At the entry level or investment level price paints it’s super competitive,” Brandee Ambrosia said. “There are a lot of people interested in getting in at the prices we are seeing right now.” She made an observation consistent with the MLS statistics that home prices in Placer County rise as you head further east on Highway 80. This was the first year she said it made sense for her to buy an investment property in Auburn. “Auburn doesn’t have the suburban sprawl. When you have massive subdivisions it drives the price down,” Brandee Ambrosia said. She has also noticed that homes in Auburn have retained their value very well. Joann (Jo) Barragan, a Realtor for Sierra Brokers Real Estate in Auburn, said many people are drawn to Auburn because of its desirable location and small-town atmosphere. “People love Auburn for its small town community. They love that it’s eclectic,” Barragan said. Barragan agrees with Ambrosia that there is some competition and many people are trying to buy short sale properties, which can be a waiting game with banks. “Oh yes people are trying to buy the short sales,” Barragan said. “It comes with a price of its own. There are no clear cut rules of engagement when dealing with short sales.” For those who have their home foreclosed on or went to a short sale, Barragan said more lenders understand when it comes to candidates buying a house again. She said many people foreclosed because they owed more than their homes were worth. “It just becomes a fact that it happened and life goes on,” Barragan said. “I’ve seen people able to buy 2 years after short sales and a little longer for foreclosures. Don’t judge yourself badly.” Dennis and Betty Bennett relocated to Auburn two years ago. After basically retiring from their work in the Silicon Valley they moved to their vacation home in Arnold. Two years ago, they wanted to live in a place with more convenience and culture. Although they could have lived anywhere in the U.S. they wanted, the Bennetts chose to buy a home in Auburn. They have found the small-town atmosphere to be an added bonus. In a short time they have become active in several local service organizations and clubs. “We were making a major life change. We moved to our vacation home in Arnold and realized we really needed some cultural stimulation and a little more convenience. We had thought about wanting to live in Colorado or Oregon,” Bennett said. “Auburn was kind of a perfect place to start looking. The market has softened considerably since the peak in 2006. The home we ended up buying was a little out of our price range and it came down to a price we could feel comfortable negotiating.” Bennett said they chose not to sell their home in Arnold because they don’t want to sell it in a declining market. “We kept it because the market wasn’t good to sell,” Bennett said. “We were in the enviable position of being able to buy a new house without having to sell the house we were living in and without having to take a hit.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com. ______________________________________________________ Home Prices by the numbers: $389,798- The average price for homes sold last month in Auburn $379,729- The average price for homes sold last month in Loomis and Penryn $266,147- The average price for homes sold last month in Roseville 25- There were 25 more homes sold in Placer County last month in Nov. 2010. Source: Multiple Listing Service data