MODESTO — Stanislaus County homes sold for $40,000 more last month than they did a year ago, boosting June's median price to $175,000, just-released statistics show.
That nearly 30 percent year-over-year increase shows the real estate market recovery is solidly under way. But not everything is rosy in the housing industry.
There simply are not enough Stanislaus homes on the market to meet demand, agents insist. That's causing bidding wars and houses being sold for higher than their appraised values.
"There are a lot of cash buyers in the market, and those investors are willing to pay over the asking price to get a home," said Marcos Serrano, a broker with Excel Realtors who also is an active home buyer.
Serrano is a flipper. He buys houses from people "who want out now," fixes up the properties, then quickly resells them for profit. He said he flipped about a dozen homes last year.
"It's more difficult to buy these days. You have more people willing to pay extra (above appraised value) because they think home prices are going to continue going up," Serrano said.
After peaking in 2006, then crashing throughout 2007 and 2008, Stanislaus home prices hit bottom in 2009 and stayed there for more than three years. They began climbing out of that deep hole last summer, DataQuick sales statistics show.
Big price jumps unlikely to continue, experts say
Only 586 houses sold in the county last month, which was a decline of nearly 17 percent from June 2012. Back in 2004 and 2005, however, it was common for more than 1,000 Stanislaus homes per month to be sold.
The relative scarcity of homes for sale is driving prices up, but big price increases are not likely to continue, cautioned Luciano Silveira, a broker with J Street A Real Estate Company.
"I can't see prices going up 30 percent every year," Silveira said.
Despite the recent price jumps, Silveira said many Stanislaus homeowners continue to delay putting their houses on the market.
"Prices went down so low that people aren't ready to sell yet. They're still waiting to get more equity," Silveira said.
At the December 2005 market peak, the median-priced Stanislaus home sold for $396,000. June's $175,000 median price was less than half what homes used to be worth.
Silveira said that because so many people lost so much equity and so many investors are anxious to buy their homes, "there are a lot of shady deals going on out there."
He warned buyers and sellers to beware and to "make sure you deal with somebody who is reputable."
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2196.