In a further sign of an improving housing market, The Towbes Group has started construction on the third phase of its Lavigna single-family housing development in Santa Maria, with 13 of the 20 homes presold.
Lavigna is a gated master planned community in the Westgate Ranch area of Santa Maria, 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara.
The three- and four-bedroom homes with floor plans ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet are priced between $229,000 and $299,000.
“We have seen a very dramatic uptick in the housing sales at Lavigna, and this is the first time we’ve had presales in any of our phases before the crash,” said Courtney Seeple, vice president of project management for The Towbes Group. “Of the 38 homes we’ve brought to market since the start of the second phase in January 2012, 29 have been sold.”
The spike in housing sales is a reflection of an improving housing market in the California. According to The Ryness Report, a weekly gauge of new home sales in Southern California, new home sales are up 38 percent over the same time last year. The report published by Danville market research firm The Ryness Co. also reveals the region has enjoyed the best average weekly sales of new homes per project (.42) in more than five years.
Seeple attributes the activity to a combination of the availability of low-rate financing, an improving economy and a rapidly declining housing inventory.
“Not only are interest rates at historic lows, financing is becoming increasingly available, which is a great sign for the housing industry,” Seeple said. “However, many homebuilders have been sitting on the sidelines waiting out the recession, which resulted in a lack of inventory. It is going to take at least 18 months for builders to catch up. We are actually beginning to hear complaints from Realtors about the lack of available new and resale housing in the area.”
According to Seeple, the local economy is also showing signs of recovery, with hiring picking up in manufacturing and oil production. This coincides with a recent report released by the California Employment Development Department, which shows the state unemployment rate at 10.6 percent down from from 11.7 percent in August 2011. Forecasts project the unemployment rate to fall below double digits by the end of next year.
— Bruce Beck is a publicist representing The Towbes Group.