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Camp Fire makes Chico fastest-selling housing market in U.S.

California’s most devastating wildfire in Paradise has helped nearby Chico become the hottest housing market in the U.S. Homeowners affected by the Camp Fire are buying homes at greatly increased — and possibly inflated — prices.

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The Camp Fire, California’s largest and deadliest wildfire has sparked the housing market in Chico, as thousands of homeowners who lost their residences in nearby Paradise move to the college town.

Chico, about 90 miles north of Sacramento, was the nation’s hottest housing market in December, according to Realtor.com. The average home in Chico sold in 37 days, two weeks faster than second-place Midland, Texas.

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Insurance checks affect market

However, real estate agents and brokers are having a difficult time determining fair market prices for homes, since homebuyers from Paradise who lost their homes in the Camp Fire are paying a lot more than the list price one month followed by paying much less the next month.

Insurance company payouts are issuing homeowners checks for their fire-destroyed homes, allowing them to buy — and often overpay — for homes in Chico. Then, insurance checks issued decline the next month, and one-time homeowners in Paradise have much less, or even very little, money to purchase homes in nearby Chico, according to a Realtor.com report.

In addition to Chico, three other cities in California cracked the top 10 hottest markets in the nation — sixth-place San Francisco, seventh-place Sacramento and Stockton at No. 10.

Vallejo finished at No 11, followed by Yuba City at No. 14. So, Northern California dominated the hottest market list, with no Southern California city on the list.

Feature photo of Camp Fire in Paradise by Tina Lawhon/Shutterstock

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Downtown housing a bargain in many CA cities

Downtown housing is hot, as more buyers favor inner-city living with access to culture hotspots and entertainment such as nightclubs, restaurants and often sport venues. But crime and crumbling buildings dominate in some downtowns.

The battle between cool and crummy are evident in the difference in home prices in the central core of cities throughout California, according to a new PropertyShark report.

For example, downtown home prices in Long Beach are $182,000 cheaper than the median price for the harbor city overall. Downtown Bakersfield home prices are $148,000 less than than the median for the entire city. Both cities’ downtowns have high crime rates, at least compared to other areas, and dilapidated buildings.

San Jose had the third-largest difference in the state at $132,000 between downtown housing and the overall median price. However, leave San Jose’s central core and home prices soar to $1 million-plus, greatly skewing the study.

San Francisco and Sacramento, both with renewed interest and investment in their central downtown cores, were the only two cities where downtown home prices outpaced citywide home prices — at $221,000 and $206,000, respectively, according to PropertyShark.

San Francisco and Sacramento have greatly benefited from an abundance of new housing — mostly high-priced condos — added in recent years.

Nationally, many cities have enjoyed a renaissance of their downtown districts, especially Boston, Charlotte and Detroit (see map below, courtesy of PropertyShark). Only West Coast cities, including Seattle and Las Vegas, had downtown home prices below the citywide median.

Photo of downtown Long Beach by Trekandshoot/Shuttetstock

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Ron Trujillo, an award-winning business journalist-turned-public relations executive, is the editor-owner of CalHomeNews and can be reached at ron@cahomenews.com.

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California is a cooling housing market, as home price increases slow and home listings soar, but there are some neighborhoods that will remain red-hot this year, according to Redfin.

Six of the 10 hottest neighborhoods are in California, including Oakland’s Merriewood neighborhood, where good schools and hillside homes lure buyers. Merriewood’s median-home price is $1.18 million, almost $400,000 more than citywide median.

Other California neighborhoods on the list and their median-home prices:

  • Mission Terrace, San Francisco: $1.26 million
  • San Rafael Hills, Pasadena: $1.21 million
  • South Pasadena: $977,500
  • Berkeley Hills, Berkeley: $1.38 million
  • Mount Washington, Los Angeles: $981,500

Check the hottest neighborhoods by metro region, according to Redfin.

“Neighborhoods in and around cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are still very desirable places to live if you can afford their high housing costs. They have access to high-paying jobs and amenities like the arts, gourmet restaurants and nightlife,” says Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “But as the cost of living increases in these metro areas, low-earners are increasingly looking to move out, and the wealthy residents are left competing for homes in the most desirable neighborhoods.”

Photo of South Pasadena neighborhood by Kit Leong/Shutterstock

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You’ve heard the saying, as California goes, so goes the nation. Well, if you need more evidence, check out the value of the nation’s housing market — and those in California.

The nation’s housing market — the combined value of all homes and condos from San Diego in the southwest to Portland, Maine, in the northeast — increased $10.9 trillion to $33.3 trillion in 2018 from the housing-bust bottom in 2012, according to a Zillow report.

And one-third of the national market gain is because of fast-rising home prices in California, according to the report. California’s housing market has soared $3.7 trillion since 2012; no other state topped $1 trillion over the same six-year period.

Even with a slowing housing market nationwide and in the state, California posted some impressive figures.

The New York City metro region had the largest combined value in the nation at $3 trillion, but Los Angeles was close behind in second-place at $2.9 trillion in 2018, a 5.2% increase compared to a year ago.

California had four of the 10 largest — or most valuable — housing markets, with San Francisco up 9.3% to $1.6 trillion, followed by San Jose’s 10.4% increase to $800 billion. San Diego increased a more modest 3.4% to $674 billion in 2018 compared to a year ago.

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