Written by The Business Journal Staff
The year’s most expensive home just eclipses the $3 million paid for a 6,700 square-foot Mediterranean-style estate in Clovis last year, and continues a years-long trend of high-end buyers pushing their successful offers higher and higher.
Sitting on an expansive 14-acre lot, the 4-bedroom, 4-bath home sold in March for $3,025,000. Selling agent Paula Conner of London Properties said the property has many desirable features, but its main selling point was its privacy.
“It has acreage, but it’s also right in town, which is hard to find,” Conner said. “Many buyers in this range want a larger lot with some land and the buyers of this home wanted that without having to buy a property in the foothills or too far away from the city. This property is close in and offers the extreme privacy they wanted.”
Most luxury homes on the market in town have lots under an acre, Conner said, making the Bluff View property unique.
To respect the buyer’s privacy, no photos of the gated property were made available to The Business Journal, and Conner requested the address not be published.
With privacy a precious commodity, listing agent Joe Sciarrone said the home had multiple offers pushing it well above the asking price of $2,885,000. Sciarrone described the completely remodeled 1960 Taylor Wheeler original as “spectacular” with grounds that offer “unobstructed river and bluff views.” Conner said the property also features a pool and outdoor dining space, which is essential for many higher-end homebuyers.
The No. 2 home on this year’s list was a $2.55 million, 8,398 square-foot house purchased in the Copper River area of Northeast Fresno off of Friant Road. The house features 5-bedrooms and 6-baths on two lots with a pool/hot tub and waterfall overlooking Copper River Country Club’s 16th hole.
Lourie Folland with Investment Commercial Specialists, Inc. was the listing agent and Ana M. Sherwood with Guarantee Real Estate was the selling agent.
Rounding out the top 3 was a $2.1 million, 6,548 square-foot home featuring 4-bedrooms and 6-baths overlooking Fort Washington Country Club in Northeast Fresno.
While buyers across the board are most concerned with the quality of construction, privacy and landscaping, Conner said she has noticed some emerging trends, particularly among newly constructed homes.
One feature she said is a must-have for many buyers is a floor plan that includes a master bedroom on the main level.
“Even younger buyers are thinking ahead to when they are older and they don’t want to deal with stairs,” Conner said. “It wasn’t always that way. For a long time, buyers wanted all the bedrooms upstairs, but now they want a master suite on the main level.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, Conner said, is the importance of a high-end kitchen in a luxury home.
“Buyers look for large kitchens with a walk-in pantry, the latest stoves and ovens, and now buyers are searching for kitchens with two dishwashers,” Conner said.
Rod Aluisi of Rod Aluisi Real Estate, who sold two homes on this year’s most expensive list, said energy efficient features are also desirable.
“Buyer want solar, tankless water heaters and high efficiency air conditioners and heaters,” Aluisi said.
Conner said the demand for solar in particular is prevalent among buyers eyeing new homes.
“As far as new construction, all the home are equipped with energy saving features and many have solar,” Conner said. “When looking at older homes, though, we don’t get many buyers specifically requesting solar, but it is an asset when a home has it.”
Other features agents said are sought out by homebuyers include high-end finishes on cabinets, stone and granite in kitchens and bathrooms, home automation and security systems. Gated properties are also a must for many buyers.
One feature Conner said is surprisingly not on most buyers’ must-have lists is a media room or “home theater” area.
“Interestingly enough, one feature I was asked a lot about a few years ago was a media room,” Conner said. “Those were a big deal for a while, but now no one hardly mentions media rooms. They are still a good feature to have, but they are not a priority.”
Though every buyer is different, Sciarrone said buyers on the high-end always call him with very specific, but similar requests.
“They are always looking for something either newer or completely remodeled,” Sciarrone said. “When you get close to the $2-million-and-over mark in Fresno, there is a limited buyer pool, but there are definitely buyers looking in that range. The house must have all the latest electronics, high-end kitchens, and either a large, well-manicured lot or something with a view. The buyer spending over $2 million wants a home that not only stands out as high-quality and unique, but is also a warm, comfortable home for the family.”
Though there are few buyers in the luxury homes market, Aluisi said there are even fewer properties for sale for more than $1 million.
“The Fresno and Clovis market continues to face a shortage of inventory in the high-end home market, combined with a shortage of custom home lots.” Aluisi said. “Last checked, in the Fresno/Clovis area there were 31 homes above $1 million, 15 above $1.5 million and seven above $2 million. We also face a market with very few available custom home sites and very few home site developments in process.”
According to agents, these market conditions signal it’s a good time to sell for those considering listing a higher-end home.
“It’s a great time to be a seller in the Fresno and Clovis area, as long as sellers are realistic with that they have to offer and their pricing,” Sciarrone said.
If you’re in the market for a new high-end home, it’s also a good time to consider building a custom home, Aluisi said.
“I have closed several high-end home sites between $400K and $800K and my buyers are building homes, which at completion, will have $1 million to $3.5 million invested,” Aluisi said. “The luxury homes trend now is in building. Rod Aluisi Real Estate has been doing custom home building seminars for 25 years and we walk the buyer thought every step of the process from the lot purchase, to selecting the builder that best suits their needs, to financing. Because of the lack of inventory, building has become more necessary.”
For those seeking to purchase an existing home, Sciarrone advises that buyers shouldn’t hesitate to make an offer.
“If I were a buyer, I would definitely have my eyes open for that one-of-a-kind property and jump on it,” Sciarrone said. “Believe me, if you like it, so do 50 other buyers.”
Aluisi agreed, advising buyers to act before interest rates climb.
“The recent increase in interest rates should cause buyers to become anxious to make a purchase, as a small increase can be very costly,” Aluisi said.
Aluisi predicts the increasing interest rates will push buyers, boosting sales and further decreasing inventory in 2017.
Sciarrone said he is optimistic about the upcoming year.
“2016 was a good year for Fresno’s upper end market and I’m pretty optimistic about 2017,” Sciarrone said. “I believe we will continue with the trend of selling high-quality homes for reasonable prices compared to the rest of the state.”