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Local home prices beginning to stabilize, Realtors say

By: Jenifer Gee,Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn housing market may be slow this month compared to other times in the market, but that's not stopping some Realtors from selling homes. At least that's the approach taken by Realtors at HomeTown Realtors in Auburn, according to Kristi Meyer, Realtor. In this office the market is just cooking along, Meyer said. The average sales prices of Auburn and Newcastle homes decreased from $502,510 last year to $476,493 this year, according to a January homes sales report from the Placer County Association of Realtors. That figure means the market is beginning to balance, according to Joe Newton, president of the Placer County Association of Realtors. Prices are starting to level out, Newton said. Houses are a little more affordable. Couple that with the lending side and interest rates being down makes it for a very good time to consider buying. Meyer said Realtors at her company have been busy this month opening nine homes in escrow. The confidence level of the buyer is out there. They're seeing the values and we're focusing on them, Meyer said. She said Realtors in her office are staying optimistic and finding buyers with approved credit and solid loans. She, along with Dusty Sullivan, Coldwell Banker broker associate in Auburn, have noticed investors are also starting to look into the housing market. Investors are starting to show interest back in the market again. That's a sign they think houses are down at a very appealing price right now, Sullivan said. Sullivan said one reason prices are low is because of competition with real-estate-owned properties or short sales. Those properties are typically priced to sell because banks or lenders own them and are not interested in holding onto the home, Sullivan explained. It makes it difficult to compete because lenders are motivated to sell quickly, Sullivan said. To counter the appeal of a cheaper home, Sullivan said he highlights the quality and better overall package of owner-owned homes when talking to clients. You overcome it basically by having a better-looking product and pricing it somewhat competitively, he said. Sullivan and Newton both agreed that once real-estate-owned and short-sale homes are sold, the market will stabilize even more. In terms of comparing this year's housing market in Auburn to last year's, Sullivan said it is about the same. Newton and Meyer agreed and said they think the slow market will eventually pick up. We have normal cycles in the real estate market. This has been a little worse than a normal cycle because of the sub-prime loan mess, Sullivan said. But we will come out of it ... The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or comment online at auburnjournal.com.