The Real Estate Blog

December 20, 2005

Looks like the Fresno real estate market is cooling down. At this time last year, there were about 1,500 homes for sale in the Fresno-Clovis area. But this year there are 2,900 homes for sale, almost twice the amount of houses.


November 17, 2005

The median home price in Central Valley fell for the first time in 2 years, 0.7% from August to September.

The hot housing market is cooling off.

There are more than twice the number of houses for sale now than a year ago.

The average house is also staying on the market longer and many sellers are having to reduce their prices one or more times just to get offers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

California and Fresno County Housing Affordability Index
California Association of Realtors (C.A.R) recently announced the California Housing Affordability Index for December 2004. This Index measures the percentage of households that can afford to purchase a median-priced home in California.

In December 2004, the Housing Affordability Index for California was 19 percent, meaning that only 19% of households in Californian afford to purchase a median-priced home in California.

The minimum household income needed to purchase the California December 2004 median-priced home of $474,480 was $110,530, based on an average mortgage interest rate of 5.76% and assuming a 20% down payment.

In contrast, the minimum household income needed to purchase a median-priced home at $188,900 in the U.S. in December 2004 was $44,000.

In Fresno county, the Housing Affordability Index for December 2004 was 27%, compared to 36% a year ago.

Friday, February 18, 2005
Southeast Fresno Housing Subdivision Denied
A developer looking to add 125 homes East of the Fresno Yosemite International Airport has been denied by Fresno’s Planning Commission. The Commission is recommending that the City Council not approve the plan, which would call for about twice as many lots per acre as is in the current city’s general plan for that area.

The idea behind that part of the plan was to preserve the large lots linked to the 100 year-old Temperance Colony. While growth of our city is somewhat inevitable, it’s good to preserve a few areas…

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Fresno Airport Renovation
The Fresno Airport is to begin a $10 million dollar renovation in 2006. This will include the lobby, ticket counters and baggage claim areas. Passenger and baggage capacity will be increased, and the look and feel of the space will be enhanced. The security area will have a new lane, which will help reduce that bottleneck.

In the opinion of this observer, the renovations are welcome for this growing city and its airport traffic. Perhaps also needed is a rethinking of the rental car pickup / return area, which is a bit removed from the main terminal (which is where the rental counters are located). The shuttle bus concept that you see at most major airports would be overkill here, but perhaps an enclosed walkway could be built between the terminal and the pickup / return area…

Thursday, February 03, 2005
Median Home Price in Fresno, Clovis, Fresno County and California in December 2004
California Association of Realtors (C.A.R) recently released the median home prices for December 2004.

Fresno, the December 2004 median home price was $218,750 compared to $173,500 in December 2003. This reflects a home price appreciation of 26.1% compared to last year.

In the city of
Clovis, the median home price in December 2004 was $285,000 compared to $256,250 a year ago. This was a home price appreciation of 11.2% from last year.

Fresno County, the median home price was $220,000 compared to $180,000 a year ago. This reflects a 22.2% year-to-year increase.

In the state of California, the December 2004 median home price was an all-time high of $474,480. This was an increase of 18.1% compared to last year.

In California, the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California, as reported by C.A.R. in December 2004 were:
Los Altos, $1,485,000;
Burlingame, $1,417,750;
Beverly Hills, $1,275,000;
Manhattan Beach, $1,250,000;
Palos Verdes Estates, $1,117,500;
Saratoga, $1,000,000;
Hermosa Beach, $976,500;
Newport Beach, $925,000;
Calabasas, $915,000;
Rancho Palos Verdes
, $900,000.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Running Horse Golf Course Community
The four photos below show the progress of work on the Running Horse golf community in South West Fresno. This is North of Kearney Blvd near Marks. So far there are houses being built on the West side of Marks, and golf course prep in progress across the street.

This ambitious project is being watched closely, as it’s going up in a portion of Fresno that’s not seen a lot of growth lately. It’s also not far from some troubled parts of SW Fresno, so is seen as somewhat risky.

It’s good to see that various interests want to bring back this beautiful part of town, and are putting up money to do so. The golf course and high-end homes will match well with the scenic tree-lined Kearney Blvd and Kearney Park.

Much recent development in Fresno has focused on the North side of town. Hopefully this project is the start of something big for SW Fresno.


All photos Copyright©2005 Empire Real Estate Group, Inc.

Gateway into the Running Horse construction area. It's shaping up nicely.
House nearing completion behind wall of this gated Running Horse Golf Course community.
Area being prepared for Running Horse golf course. Note the distinctive palm trees lining Kearney Blvd in the background. 
Adjoining vineyard next to houses 

Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Another helping of Piazza, please
Following on the heels of our last update, the Fresno Bee reported Jan 30 about the progress on this shopping center. Interesting to note that the leasing agent is anticipating 95% of space leased by the time the Piazza opens; some spaces are still under negotiation.

That level of commitment would be quite impressive, and a real vote of confidence for the consumer power of that part of Fresno.

Per the Bee, opening of the center is currently scheduled for March.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Piazza del Fiore in North Fresno
This development on the corner of
Champlain and Perrin is proceeding nicely. This space will contain restaurants and shops in a beautiful pedestrian setting. Some of the A-list tenants are firsts in Fresno: Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop as well as Planet Smoothie. Echo Restaurant is moving there from the Tower District (sorry to see it go), and Sequoia Brewing will have another location here.

The Piazza is on a prime piece of Fresno real estate, in a great neighborhood near fine dining (Campagnia and La Paella). It’s also across the corner from one of the neatest pieces of architecture in Fresno, the Public Library Branch. There is a luxury apartment complex being built behind the Piazza.

We’re looking forward to the completion of this “non-strip mall” and the impact it will have on the area…

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Fresno Wal-Mart: Super-size It?
Wal-Mart has an application pending to convert its Kings Canyon store in Southeast Fresno into a super center. The super center is the combined general merchandise and supermarket concept that has proved contentious throughout much of the country. Supporters argue that these bring jobs to communities; detractors argue that better-paying jobs are lost from local supermarkets that cannot compete with Wal-Mart. Approval was recently given for a super center in neighboring Selma, after much heated local debate.

That part of Fresno already has a Foods Co and a FoodMax within ¾ of a mile. There is a real possibility that a Wal-Mart super center could put one of these out of business, leaving a vacant building. The expansion (from 125K to 220K square feet) would also use up a local ponding basin and park.

The company is reportedly planning to also apply for a super center expansion for the Herndon Ave store location…

Monday, January 24, 2005
Granite Park, part deux
In more recent news, the Fresno city council is rethinking its co-signing of the Granite Park loan (see previous update). Apparently some concern was expressed to one of the council members by a loan professional. The city controller is reviewing the numbers now, and the facts will be reviewed at a future council meeting.

This pundit is pleased to see the council doing such due diligence, as should be expected of any real estate or business investor…

Thursday, January 20, 2005
Interesting news for Fresno real estate investors
The Fresno Bee reported today that
Fresno apartment rents in 2004 rose by 4% over the previous year. This exceeded the CPI (consumer price index) which increased 3.3%. The only Western US areas where the CPI was exceeded were Southern Cal, Fresno, and Nevada.

And this just in… the CAR (California Association of Realtors) reported that the Housing Affordability Index for California in November remained at 19%, six percentage points lower than the previous year. The index is a measure of the percentage of households able to afford a median price home. The number for Fresno was 28%, better than many parts of the state (e.g. SF Bay Area at 14%) but still quite low.

These combined bits of data should prove interesting for investors in residential real estate….

Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Some Fresno real estate happenings to watch for in 2005
Mid-State Bowl at Clinton and Weber (near Hwy 99) in West-Central Fresno, will be torn down. (For locals: yes, the good old pumpkin patch / Christmas tree site). Taking its place will be a supermarket and other commercial activities. In this observer’s opinion, this development can only be good for that sub-pocket of Fresno, which is suffering a bit from urban blight.

56 acre Commons at Figarden. This will be 168 houses, plus retail space and a movie theater. Near Figarden Dr and Bullard (the highly desirable Figarden Loop). Houses built by Walthen-Castanos in their European Quarter style, of which I’m a big fan. Look for construction to start in Spring 2005.

Downtown Fresno developments. Old Armenian Town, a concept that has long been in the works, took some steps forward recently. The development will eventually have three office buildings and an Armenian cultural center. (For non-locals: Fresno has a large Armenian population). The first parcel (bounded by O and M, Ventura and Hwy 41) of 7.67 acres of land will be sold by the city to developers for $636K. Interestingly, the city’s price tag for the land is expected to be $4.6M; losses are planned to be recovered through increased tax revenue of the redeveloped property. While one always gulps if your city seems to give away land, IMHO revitalizing our downtown is key to taking our city to the next level (btw, if you’ve not been down there lately, it’s looking spiffy. Check out the new hospital…)

Locals (and visitors) may be wondering what is to become of the North Fresno property bounded by Friant Road, Audubon Drive, Cole Avenue and Fresno Street. The 39 acres or so has been rezoned to allow increased retail use, despite the protests of neighbors. The developer’s plan calls for only 20 housing units and 274K sq ft of office space and over 200K sq ft of retail space. Forbidden are drive-through restaurants, supermarkets, or home-improvement centers. As a frequent user of Woodward Park which is just across the street, I would prefer to see that corner be as non-commercial as possible. Per the Fresno Bee, residents have complained that the developer’s plans are a little vague. I’ll be keeping a close eye on that development…

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The Village at Granite Park
The Fresno Bee reported on Sunday 1/16/05, about this project in East Central Fresno, near highway 168. When completed, it will feature revenue-generating athletic fields, shopping and restaurants.

The fields are owned by one entity (non-profit) and the retail portion by another (for-profit). What's interesting about the financing is that the city of Fresno has cosigned on a $5.2 million loan to the non-profit. Part of this loan is then transferred to the retail owner, having the effect of reducing the interest rate and increasing the cash flow of the project. If the project goes belly-up, the taxpayers will be left holding the bill for that loan.

Risky? Perhaps. According to the Bee, an independent appraiser has valued the property at $8 million, so foreclosure could be a viable option in the event of the default. And while this observer would not encourage the city to back most private developments, this one may be a little different. This is an innovative concept along the lines of a "lifestyle center" that combines various activities (e.g. movies, shopping, dining ala Fresno's own RiverPark). In the case of Granite Park, it's sports, shopping and dining. If families can combine a day's activities into one car trip, why not?

Perhaps this project is the kind of thinking that will help propel our city forward...

Monday, January 17, 2005
access to Fresno MLS
If you need access to the Fresno MLS, go to:


and click on the MLS Search button at the top center of the page.

Laying the Foundation
This blog will follow developments in the Fresno CA Real Estate market.