Written by David Castellon
Though he has sold real estate for only a couple of years, Nader Assemi isn’t a novice in the home industry.
As a teen, he sold appliances, fireplaces, lighting and other home items at his father’s store, Central Distributing, in Fresno. As he got older, Assemi worked several jobs for his family’s other business, Granville Homes, most notably as the marketing coordinator.
After taking a break from the family businesses to go to college, Assemi opted not to go back to Granville and instead try his hand at real estate, coming into the business with contacts from his old career.
It was one of those contacts that lead to him listing a mansion in the bluffs above the San Joaquin Country Club in northwest Fresno. Earlier this year, the property sold for $3.75 million, the highest price paid in all 2017 for a single home in Fresno, Madera, Kings or Tulare counties, according to The Business Journal’s annual list printed Dec. 29, 2017.
“It’s probably one of the most exquisite properties I’ve seen in the Valley,” he said of the 11,681-square-foot, 5-bed, 8-bathroom home, which he described as a gated compound. “It’s a custom home really unlike any other, and I’ve seen a lot of homes in this area.”
The home has a French provincial design in and out, and “There’s nothing standard about this house. Everything is ultra custom — lots of one-off components. This house is all about exclusivity,” Assemi said.
If fact, there are so many unique features that what most struck him about the listing was all the new things he discovered on every visit, “Things you wouldn’t expect, like his-and-hers offices and a his-and-her gym.”
At the center of the compound is what at first glance appears to be a working fountain — which it is — but it also converts to an exercise pool that generates a current to swim against for workouts, Assemi said.
And as nice at the home is, any broker worth his salt knows location is vital, and Assemi said the three-quarter-acre parcel is on a prime spot, on a bluff overlooking the country club’s golf course with a view of the San Joaquin River just beyond that.
The rear viewing deck over the bluff is designed to make the most of that view, so at the right spot, “it literally feels like you are floating out over the golf course,” Assemi said.
“At that price point, that’s what people are after, not just pretty finishes,” he explained, adding that, “When you spend a couple of million dollars in our market, you’re paying for the views.
“In the Fresno marketplace, this is the closest to a coastal view as you’re going to get. Unobstructed views, and the whole place is designed to take advantage of those views.”
The house’s price topped last year’s highest home sale price in the region by $725,000.
This year’s second most-expensive home was 7,845 square feet, located just blocks from the No. 1 home.
It sold for $2.5 million, and is described in its listing as an “entertainer’s dream” with meticulously maintained landscaping and interiors extras that include a private movie theater.
At No. 3 on the list is a 6,000-square-foot home on 10 acres north of Clovis, west of Big Dry Creek.
One of the distinct features of the property is that besides the home, it features a 6,800-square-foot showroom (with a gym and office) where the previous owner displayed his collection of 1950s-era gas station memorabilia.
“All this on 10 acres, which is unheard of in this area,” said Ronny Silva, the listing agent.
Both he and Assemi said 2017 was a good year for brokers in the high-end luxury home market, as inventory was higher than in recent years, as was demand.
“We saw steam pick up in 2016, and this year it didn’t stop,” while values on the highest-end homes grew at a rate higher than in the lower-end market, Silva said.
The rising values likely spurred some owners who have been waiting for better prices to put their homes on the market, which is elevating the high-end inventory, Assemi said, adding that many of those sellers are looking to downsize.
Also helping is growing confidence in the economy, with Silva noting that “One savvy investor said this will be one of the best years ever for everyone in 2018 due to tax changes.”