Layne Marceau, president of Shea Homes, which oversees the day-to-day operation of the Mountain House master plan, said “positive signs” began in late 2011, setting the stage for a strong housing market in 2012.
Builders are also buying previously owned homes for fixing and resale.
“It’s a great recovery that we’ve been long awaiting,” Marceau said. “There’s a lot of activity in Mountain House.”
Fewer than 130 new homes were sold during 2011; however, that number skyrocketed to more than 300 in 2012, and Marceau anticipates 2013 sales numbers will be even higher.
According to Drew Jacobsen, co-owner of the Mountain House Real Estate Group, trying to find a home for sale in Mountain House is difficult, because the supply does not meet the demand.
He said resale homes that make it to market sell in the first week for prices that are 10 to 20 percent above the asking price.
“It seems a lot of people want to be out here,” said Jacobsen. “Most (homes) are sold before they are built. It’s rare to get one with a quick move-in date.”
Buyers in the town of more than 10,000 residents often find themselves with limited options, Jacobsen said.
“A lot of people will come here and look for property,” Jacobsen said. “The resale market is so competitive — only four to eight homes available at a time, and fewer short sales.”
That’s a stark contrast to just four years ago, when First American CoreLogic reported that Mountain House was awash with properties that had outstanding loan balances greater than the houses’ worth — what the industry calls “underwater mortgages.”
The Tracy Press reported in November 2008 that the community, which then consisted of about 8,000 people, had the nation’s highest per-capita rate of underwater mortgages.
But that bust is turning into a boom that is fueled by demand.
Many potential buyers who lose bidding wars on previously owned homes are opting to look at new properties, Jacobsen said. He said many choose to wait for a house to be built and pay whatever the developer is asking.
Officials said in the next year or two, six different developers will likely offer buyers eight different home styles throughout Mountain House, ranging in size from 1,800 square feet to 3,500 square feet.
Prices will depend upon the market, but someone looking to call Mountain House their home can expect to pay $320,000 to $500,000 to buy a house, depending upon the size, Marceau said.
Sweet sounds of growth
The noise of increased construction has become music to the ears of Mountain House’s elected officials.
“As long as I keep seeing foundations poured and buildings going up, I’m happy,” said Jim Lamb, vice president of the Mountain House Community Services District board. “They’re building pretty fast. As a board member, I want it to grow as fast as possible.”
“A lot of people in Tracy think Mountain House is dying or a dead project — that’s not the case,” he said. “Any growth is good growth.”
The next big Mountain House development is Neighborhood C, a 1,000-home village that occupies land near