Bakersfield has been named the fourth hottest housing market in the country by a homebuyers website in a recent report.
Trulia, a property listing website owned by Zillow, listed Bakersfield behind Colorado Springs, Colo.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Jacksonville, Fla.; in an article about the top 10 neighborhoods to watch in 2019.
With its proximity to Los Angeles, and its affordability compared to other California markets, Bakersfield ended up high on the list, which also considered job growth, vacancy rate and share of population under 35.
“It’s not a surprise,” said Derek Sprague, president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors. “I think local realtors have known for a while that this is the right place to buy a home and start a family.”
The report identified northeast Bakersfield, in the area south of the Kern River around Bakersfield College, as the hottest neighborhood within the city.
Home values in that neighborhood have improved by 7.2 percent year-over-year, according to Trulia, with homes spending an average of 30 fewer days on the market compared to last year.
“I think it’s a testament to what we have here in Bakersfield,” Sprague said. “We’ve got everything in place here, and people want to be here beyond the fact that we’re two hours away from Los Angeles.”
But at least one local real estate expert viewed the report with what he termed as a healthy dose of skepticism.
Appraiser Gary Crabtree was not ready to accept Trulia’s findings without further research.
“Numbers are great, but they don’t tell you the whole story,” he wrote in statement emailed to local media outlets. “In 2004-05 Bakersfield was ranked as the number one market in the country. Then the “bubble” burst and in 2009 we ranked in the bottom five markets in the country.”
He went on to note that Bakersfield’s median housing price was still 20 percent below its peak in 2005.
A key factor to Bakersfield’s standings in the Trulia report was its affordability compared to the surrounding area.
A total of 53 percent of median-income residents in Kern County can afford a median-priced home, according to an important indicator known as the housing affordability index put out by the California Association of Realtors.
Statewide that number stands at 27 percent.
Fresno also made the top 10 due to its affordability compared to Bay Area cities.
“In general, we expect 2019 to be a year of moderation and continued transition in the U.S. housing market,” the Trulia report said. “After several years of breakneck appreciation following the end of the housing recession, the latter half of 2018 may have marked a turning point and the beginning of a return to normalcy and balance in the market.”
Another report released by the real estate startup Zumper said Bakersfield had the second largest year-to-date one-bedroom rent decline in the nation, falling 8 percent since the beginning of the year.