By Patricia Reynolds
Business Journal Writer
TRACY — The City of Tracy is experiencing a recent boom in its housing market. The surge in resold home prices and development of new residential communities is in large part a result of the city’s nearness to the Bay Area.
“A lot of what is driving our housing market is the affordability of housing compared to over the hill,” Robert Rickman, Mayor of Tracy, said.
A secondary contributing factor is Tracy’s ongoing proactive effort to incentivize companies to locate in and bring jobs to the area.
“We’re a progressive community prepared for new opportunities,” Rickman said. “We have International Park of Commerce. It will be one of the largest industrial parks in Northern California. We’ve got Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, FedEx, Smucker’s and Medline.”
According to Rickman, several additional companies soon will operate facilities in Tracy including 3M, Contract Metal Products (CMP) and Zinus, Inc., bringing hundreds of jobs to Tracy with them.
New jobs and affordable real estate have had a significant impact on Tracy real estate.
“The housing market is brisk right now,” Clare LeForce, Broker/Owner of Realty World Providence, said. “Five hundred thousand dollars and less in Tracy is moving quite rapidly. If we had more inventory we’d probably be able to sell more homes, but inventory is very low.”
Of Tracy homes that have sold in the last six months, 82 percent have been priced under $500,000, with those properties moving in well under 30 days.
“The minute I list a home in the $300,000 to $400,000, the minute I put it on the market, the phone is just blowing up, and its multiple offers because everybody is competing for that house,” LeForce said.
Homes priced higher are taking longer to sell, but not by much. The average number of days on the market for a property priced under $700,000 is 35 and for those in the $600,000 range, the average is 21 days.
The median sales price for properties sold in Tracy in the past six months is about $475,000. That is significantly higher than the same statistic for communities further from the Bay Area such as Stockton ($230,500), Manteca ($350,000), Lathrop ($355,000) and Modesto ($255,000).
In Mountain House, another San Joaquin County community with even closer proximity to coastal jobs, the median price is a whopping $535,000.
Still, Tracy and Mountain House prices are considered bargains when compared to those in Bay Area communities.
“Now that prices are going up and getting so expensive in the Bay Area we’re finding that more people are coming out to the Tracy area where they can still get a great home for $500,000, where in the Bay Area they’d get a fixer-upper,” LeForce said.
Improved pricing in Tracy’s resale market has motivated homeowners to trade in for larger properties.
“Most of my clients seem to be the ‘move-up’ buyers because they have been stagnant for so many years. They’ve had no equity,” LeForce said. “Now that they have the equity they’re excited to move up the next step to their dream home.”
Many of these are seeking new construction properties, a part of the market that was nonexistent during the recession, but has now come back to life.
“Now that’s all coming back where they were holding onto these properties or they had infill properties that they acquired years ago, and now there’s buyers out there to buy them and they’re able to get those properties built up on,” LeForce said.
Tracy development projects currently in progress include Tracy Hills, Tracy Villages, an active senior community, and Ellis Development.
“Named after the historic town of Ellis, which was the predecessor of the historic town of Tracy, Ellis is a developing 321-acre master planned, residential, mixed-use community comprised of 2,250 residential homes and 180,000 square feet of commercial uses, parks and other recreational uses,” Chris Long, President of Surland Company, master developer for Ellis, said.
The development will include a broad selection of residential housing types and densities, along with parks and proposed aquatic facility and K-8 school, all interconnected with a walkable and bike-accessible trail.
The new development and its multi-house offerings will be perfect for all types of buyers whether they are first time buyers, move-up purchasers or those interested in downsizing, according to Long.
Developing properties in Tracy isn’t new to Surland.
“Surland is a local company that has been building award-winning residential projects, such as Redbridge, in Tracy for nearly 20 years, and has designed important community projects in Tracy as well, such as Tracy City Hall, the Tracy Transit Station and family Aquatic Center,” Long said.