The most expensive home purchased in 2020 is only 3,000 square feet along North Valentine Avenue and the San Joaquin River in Fresno, but it includes pistachio and walnut orchards. Photo contributed
Written by Edward Smith
The pandemic did little to slow home buying. And the same goes for high-end homes.
This year’s most expensive residential transactions were marked by competitive offers coming in close or even beyond asking price. The top two deals came with more than just four walls and a roof.
Topping out the list was a property on North Valentine Avenue along the San Joaquin River in Fresno. Compared to other homes in the area, this residence features a smaller footprint — 3,000 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, said Fresno’s Christie Majors with Majors Realty Group brokered by eXp Realty of California, Inc. Majors was the listing agent for the transaction and Derek Lindemann with Lindemann Properties in Fresno represented the buyer. The property, built in 1962, sold for $4.2 million.
For comparison, the most expensive home for 2019 was a 9,528 square-foot estate on nearly 2,000 acres near Highway 168 and Tollhouse Road in Clovis. It went for a record-breaking $6.5 million.
What made 2020’s top sale stand out was not the home, but the land. On nearly 90 acres, it includes pistachio and walnut orchards. Planted in the river basin, the nut trees have easy access to water.
Access to the home is through the back of San Joaquin Country Club, and for any golfer, it provides serene water views, Majors said.
The seller listed the home March 17, only days before shelter-in-place orders began to roll out. The buyer acted while few people were in the market, and the seller took an offer in 26 days.
“To sell farmland inside of the city limits, that’s really good timing, faster than most,” Majors said.
The buyer agreed on the list price and offered to pay closing costs, eliminating the need for a counter offer, Majors said.
A home along Bass Lake came in second on the list of most expensive homes sales.
Nico Gentile, broker of record and owner of Fresno-based Gentile Real Estate, represented both the buyer and seller for the $2.7 million home on the lake.
Willow Cove, where the house was built, is one of the most desirable locations at Bass Lake, Gentile said.
“Any holiday on the lake is done on Willow Cove — that’s the spot to be,” Gentile said.
The 50-year-old home was expanded over the years. It has six bedrooms and five baths with a dock extending out into the lake.
What stood out to Gentile was the time on the market. For homes in vacation areas, sales are usually seasonal and properties can linger. But Gentile said with travel and tourism impacted by Covid, the home garnered a lot of interest. The seller received three offers in short order and the price and terms accepted “far exceeded the seller’s expectations,” Gentile said.
The third-highest home on the list is a newer home built in the Villa Alicante neighborhood of Copper River.
Gentile represented the seller along with Matt Ratzlaff of Cornerstone Homes Real Estate in Fresno. The 6,000-square-foot home sold for $2.45 million — 98% of asking price.
Everything about the Cornerstone Home was custom, Gentile said. Each of the five bedrooms has its own bathroom as well as walk-in closets. It has vaulted ceilings and one-of-a-kind finishes.
“Everything about this property was so detailed, it was immaculate,” Gentile said.
Being listed at the height of the pandemic, the seller was hesitant to have people coming into their home, Gentile said. The agents worked with the client and were able to sell the home before putting it on market. Only three people walked the home and of them, two gave offers.
Gentile anticipates the high-end market to continue its strength. Strong demand for custom homes continues and homebuilders don’t have many custom blocks to build on until more land comes up, Gentile said. With lumber tripling in cost, instead of building and waiting two years to move in, buyers want existing homes.
Even in a pandemic, buyers want to upgrade, Majors said. With low interest rates, buyers have an edge even as home prices increase.
“I think we’re in a unique situation to have buyers that have always wanted to have a bigger house or in a different neighborhood,” said Majors. “Now is the time to do it.”