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‘A new Gold Rush.’ COVID shutdown fuels Citrus Heights housing market

File photo, an open house sign directs buyers to a two-story home for sale in Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

By Mike Hazlip–
Housing prices in Citrus Heights have been on the rise during the COVID-19 shutdown, as buyers find more options in working from home and sellers move out of state.

Cara Richey, broker-owner of NextHome Millennium, based in Citrus Heights, told The Sentinel in an email Wednesday that an expected hesitation in the real estate market due to economic uncertainty never materialized. Instead, the market has become extremely competitive for buyers, with many moving from the Bay Area to the Sacramento region in search of lower housing costs.

“Most of our sellers are leaving the state,” Richey said. “Often they are moving to be closer to family, for a job opportunity, or simply in pursuit of a lower cost of living. The ability for many to now work virtually has given more people flexibility when it comes to location.”

Richey said inventory in Sacramento County has hit a 15-year low, with Citrus Heights seeing a 57.5% decrease in housing inventory year over year. She said this has “led to a significant jump in home values this year,” due to supply being lower than demand.

Local broker Beth Moran is seeing similar trends, noting there were just over two weeks of homes available in Citrus Heights during June and July.

“The lack of inventory is fueling this seller’s market and it reminds me of 2005 when realtors couldn’t write offers fast enough,” she said.

Moran called the exodus from the Bay Area a “new gold rush” fueled by COVID, as people seek a lower cost of living compared with larger cities.

“As Bay Area buyers get priced out down there, our area grows more attractive, she said. “Not good for the local buyers, but great for sellers.”

The average price for homes listed in Citrus Heights last month was $490,000, up nearly 25% since last year, according to data provided by Richey. A year ago, the average home price listed in Citrus Heights was $397,000.

Market data also shows a trend toward larger homes, especially in Placer and El Dorado counties. A Sept. 14 blog post by Sacramento-based appraiser Ryan Lundquist shows a spike in the size of homes purchased since the beginning of 2020.

Sales of homes with pools are also up 4.2% according to Lundquist. He believes this is due to the COVID-19 quarantine orders, now in their sixth month.

“If you’ve been cooped up for months it makes sense that you’re going to want a larger home, and that’s exactly what the stats show in the Sacramento region,” said Lundquist.

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