Few cities in California saw home prices fall as far and fast as Fresno after the housing bubble in 2008. Subsequent unemployment rates at one of the highest levels in the country have stunted a turnaround for the city. However, after back-to-back years of positive appreciation in 2014 and 2015, real estate experts think California’s hub of agribusiness may be on a sustainable track to a full recovery. Fresno’s population growth, aided by a cost of living that is nearly 23% lower than the rest of state, has more than offset the effects of lingering unemployment. Based on a 3.38% jump in home loan applications in 2015, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (OTC: FMCC), known as Freddie Mac, ranked Fresno at the top of its Multi-Indicator Market Index. The index, which measures the strength and stability of single-family housing markets in major metro areas, is an indication that Fresno’s housing market may finally be turning around.

Market Insights

As of May 7, 2016, the median sale price in Fresno was $201,425, which was a 5% increase over the previous year. The median sales price in Fresno peaked in 2006 at nearly $300,000, before declining by more than half to $144,000 in December 2012. Housing prices have climbed 31% since then, spurred by an improving job market and steady population growth. Forecasts for a 2.6% price increase in 2016 indicate an outlook for a slow but steady housing market recovery.

Fresno’s population growth has driven the increase in housing permits since the 2011 low of 1,511. After spiking 56% to more than 2,300 in 2013, permit issuances fell 31% to 1,611 in 2014. A gradual recovery in 2015 pushed the number of permits back over 2,000. The resale market has been fairly stable since 2011, when 9,762 existing homes were sold. The market experienced a sharp drop to 8,700 in 2014 but recovered in 2015 to 9,700.

Property and Transfer Taxes

The average property tax in the County of Fresno is 1.2294%. When applied to the median sales price of $201,425, this yields an annual tax of $2,471. Sellers pay a documentary transfer tax at a rate of 55 cents per $500 of property value. Any other taxes imposed by incorporated cities in the county are included in the 55-cent rate.

Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Two of Fresno’s most expensive neighborhoods are new-growth areas that have attracted city migrants from the Bay Area and Southern California. The North Growth Area has the highest median sales price in the city at $450,000. Homes in the area are much larger than the rest of the city, set on large lots or ranch sites. The area attracts young, married professionals who work in nearby hospitals and technology companies. The North Growth Area is also popular with retired couples looking for a rural lifestyle.

The Southeast Growth Area has the second-highest median sale price, at $350,000. The area is the latest planned community that had yet to be fully built out as of May 2016. Residents are primarily young, married couples with a median household income of $82,000. The community is home to a country club, and larger estate homes surround a golf course.

Woodward Park was once a growth area on the northern edges of Fresno. However, as of 2016, it was a well-established, upper-middle-class neighborhood with a rural feel. Often ranked as one of the best places to live in Fresno, the area is home to the hugely popular Woodward Park and some of the best schools in the city. The median sales price in Woodward Park is $290,000.

Top Real Estate Websites

London Properties is one of the top realtors in Fresno, and its website, LondonProperties.com, offers resources for both buyers and sellers. The website also offers access to five multiple listing services (MLS) and has the latest data for market trends in the area. The real estate section of the Fresno Bee’s website is the best non-realtor source of listings, local real estate news and market trends.

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