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Appraiser Gary Crabtree

As the Bakersfield housing market moves from off-peak to peak season, its strength still remains questionable because increasing unemployment and declining median family net income are hurting affordability, according to the latest monthly Crabtree report.

The median closing price of a home in March reached $200,000, up 2.6 percent from February and 14.3 percent from March 2013, local appraiser Gary Crabtree said.

With a pretty stable supply of homes and increasing demand, unsold inventory dropped by almost 20 percent, he said. Crabtree said median days on the market dropped from 31 in February to 26 in March.

Increasing interest rates and prices are sending housing affordability "in the wrong direction," Crabtree said, with a little more than one half of median income families being able to afford a median-priced home.

But Bakersfield's median price is still 33 percent below the "bubble" peak compared to 20 percent below in the rest of the country, Crabtree said.

"So we still have a long way to go in this recovery," he wrote.

Crabtree said foreclosures and foreclosure sales are stable at about a 10 percent market share. Investor interest is shrinking given that, although some are now buying up homes through short sales and flipping them for profit, Crabtree said.

A prominent Fresno attorney with deep legal roots in Kern County has opened a new law office in Bakersfield.

Mick Marderosian, who founded the law firm of Marderosian, Cercone & Cohen in 1977, officially opened the firm's new location earlier this month at 1200 Truxtun Ave., Suite 130. The firm will maintain its Fresno office as well.

Marderosian, who focuses on civil litigation, has been trying cases in Kern County Superior Court for 35 years. Since 2002, the city of Bakersfield has retained the firm to represent the city in a variety of lawsuits and related civil proceedings.

But Marderosian said he's looking forward to handling cases on behalf of other clients as well. The firm represents both civil plaintiffs and defendants.

The veteran litigator said he's been impressed by what he's seeing in Bakersfield, and his decision to open a local office came, at least in part, as a result of that feeling of confidence.

"Being from Fresno, as an outsider, I would say there's something happening in Bakersfield -- right now.

"There's a vibe," he said. "What's happening there is very impressive and I want to be a part of it."

Kern Green, a local environmental nonprofit, is taking nominations for various awards designed to honor businesses, schools, individuals, agencies and organizations making a difference in the community.

There are several categories honoring people for conservation, waste reduction, volunteerism, green leadership and eco-education, among other things.

The deadline is April 28. For more information go to

A ribbon cutting and cocktail reception will be held 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday to celebrate renovations at Holiday Inn Express.

The hotel is at 4400 Hughes Lane.