New data show Bakersfield's home market and that of the Central Valley as a whole are holding up better through the coronavirus crisis than most of the rest of the state.
The city's median home sale price rose 3.8 percent in April to $274,000 while California overall experienced a 1 percent dip, according to figures released this week.
That left Bakersfield's median up 8.6 percent year over year while the state's was essentially flat at $606,410.
Local observers said Bakersfield's home prices are continuing to benefit from low inventory and strong affordability, as well as low interest rates and a seller's market.
"People still have to have a house to live in," said broker associate Terri Collins. "They need bigger houses, they need smaller houses. Or they need their first house."
In two important ways the Central Valley's home market stood out from the rest of the state in a report released Monday by the California Association of Realtors.
A big drop in the number of homes sold in April was worse in every other major region of the state than it was in the Central Valley.
CAR said California's April sale total was down 30.1 percent from a year earlier — it was off 37.4 percent in the Bay Area — but in the Valley the decline was just 26.1 percent.
"As expected, California home sales experienced the worst month-to-month sales decline in more than four decades as the coronavirus pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders, which kept both buyers and sellers on the sidelines," CAR President Jeanne Radsick, a second-generation Realtor from Bakersfield, said in a news release Monday.
The Central Valley's other notable distinction was its median sales price in April as compared with a year earlier. That figure was down in the Central Coast and the Bay Area — but it was up 3.5 percent in Southern California and up 4.8 percent in the Valley.
Appraiser Gary Crabtree, who monitors the local market and provided Bakersfield-specific data Sunday, said fewer escrows are closing lately, probably because escrows are being processed slower during the pandemic than before, but that the number of sales pending is way up in recent weeks.
The number of homes being listed for sale is down, too, he said. He attributed the reduction to people sheltering in place during the pandemic.
He and Collins said they are still seeing homes fetch multiple offers. Collins said it's partly because people are moving to Bakersfield to work or otherwise taking advantage of the area's strong affordability as compared with the rest of the state.
Her view is that prices will keep climbing as interest rates stay low and that the local market will do fine through the coronavirus crisis.
"I think we're going to get through this," she said.
Crabtree said he has looked at the pandemic as being a "blip" in the market and that a bigger impact will come from the oil-price decline that has already cost Kern County many hundreds of jobs.
Radsick at CAR predicted a slowdown that will last into summer.
"While some economic activity will resume as the state gradually reopens," she wrote, "the housing market is expected to remain sluggish for the next couple of months as potential market participants deal with the impact of stay-in-place restrictions."