Trulia has identified Fresno as one of the nation's hottest real estate markets to watch in 2019, singling out the McLane High School neighborhood as a particularly hot area. Image via Google Earth

published on November 29, 2018 - 6:00 AM
Written by David Castellon

For years, politicians, business people and real estate brokers have touted the Valley as a hot, growing market for homes, as housing prices in other parts of the state have soared.

Researchers for the online real estate site Trulia apparently agree, having named Fresno among the 10 top housing markets to watch in 2019.

Specifically, Fresno was ranked sixth out of the nation’s 100 top metro areas as a region to watch, because it’s expected to be a “hot market” that will help drive the nation’s housing trends next year instead of coastal and tech industry communities that have provided most of that drive in recent years, according to Trulia’s announcement.

Those other markets will give way to a “new group of affordable, young, opportunity-filled, desirable — and largely inland — cities primed to drive growth in the years to come,” it continues.

Researchers for Trulia, a website for people looking to buy and rent homes, based their selections on job growth over the past year; home vacancy rates; starter home affordability; a large ratio of the population being under 35 years old; and more people looking to move into an area than move out, based on their Trulia searches.

Among the top 10 metro areas selected, Colorado Springs, Colorado came in first, followed by Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Jacksonville, Florida.

The only other California metro area to make the top 10 is Bakersfield, ranked fourth.

The report notes that Bakersfield and Fresno are the lowest-priced California housing markets among the 100 metros, helping them earn high places on the list.

“Keen-eyed readers will notice a few things in common amongst the 2019 stars on this list. It does include a couple well-known growth areas, including Phoenix, Ariz., and Austin, Texas. But it also highlights markets relatively close to more-expensive metros, but far enough away to offer their own attractions and opportunities without many of the mounting affordability concerns that mark those marquee names. Think Colorado Springs instead of Denver, and Bakersfield and Fresno instead of Los Angeles and the Bay Area,” the announcement continues. 

Brandon Gonzales, president of the Fresno County Association of Realtors, said he agreed with Trulia’s assessment that Fresno County will be a strong up-and-comer in the real estate market next year.

“Because we have a strong workforce, that attracts people naturally,” combined with the greater home affordability, he said.

“We are getting that outside pressure from other parts of California,” as a growing number of people want to move here, Gonzales added.

“While there will certainly be local bright spots like the ones we’ve identified, in general we expect 2019 to be a year of moderation and continued transition in the U.S. housing market. After several years of breakneck appreciation following the end of the housing recession, the latter half of 2018 may have marked a turning point and the beginning of a return to more normalcy and balance in the market. Next year will continue to bring more sanity to the market for home buyers frustrated by years of stiff competition and chronically low inventory,” the Trulia report states.

“But affordability concerns will still plague the market, especially as mortgage rates rise, putting buyers in a wait-and-see mode. Sellers will also respond to changes, potentially thinking twice before listing in an environment that may not be as lucrative as it was in recent years and further slowing buying and selling activity.”

Local real estate experts, Gonzales among them, have noted that fast-rising costs for homes have slowed down in the Valley this year compared to last year, and they expect the modest increases to continue next year.

Trulia also offers a second list for hottest neighborhoods expected to have high real estate activity in the coming year, with the area around McLane High School in east-central Fresno earning that distinction.

That group was determined by looking at year-over-year change in home values, number of days homes were on the market and changes in the number of days they were on the market this year compared to last year.

Gonzales said the McLane area is well-known for modestly-priced starter homes that attract a lot of first-time homebuyers, empty nesters looking to downsize and investors, many looking to fix and upgrade older houses so they can flip them and turn profits.

But a lot of buyers who can spend more in Fresno are tending to like more “master oriented” communities with parks, walking trails, shopping and good schools within walking distance, he said.

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