Signs of housing market springing forward

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Margarita Sedano talks about her family's move from San Jose, Calif., last year. The  family says the cost of living here was a major factor in their decision to move to Carson City.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Margarita Sedano talks about her family's move from San Jose, Calif., last year. The family says the cost of living here was a major factor in their decision to move to Carson City.

As the hot, summer, home-selling season approaches, builders and agents are confident that decreasing prices will draw more buyers to Carson City.

So far, 2007 statistics have soothed a market troubled by a mediocre 2006.

"I'm confident because we're having a good spring," said Realtor Mary Jo Brummer.

In the fray is Rick Jordan, who is selling his Carson City home after buying his dream ranch in Montana. He and his wife will ride horses and raise alpacas in Molt, Mont.

"I don't have to work, so it's time for me to go play," he said. "I'd love to stay here, but I couldn't pass up the deal in Montana."

Westerners are traveling east for affordability. For the Sedano family that means moving to Carson City from Southern California - where paychecks weren't keeping up with the high cost of living.

"To make it, my husband was working in construction, and I was working in electronics. It was good pay, but I worked 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., four days a week," said Margarita Sedano, 37.

She and her husband, Rafael Diaz, purchased a 1,500-square-foot Northridge home for $335,000 last year. This week, they're putting in new tile. Other relatives are following their lead.

San Jose, Calif., has lost almost the entire Sedano family. It started with Sedano and her sister. A brother is moving here this weekend, to be followed by another sister. Since Sedano doesn't have to work as much, she can spend more time with her youngest son. He is autistic and has benefited from more time with his mom.

The housing market this year isn't bad for the relocation of the Sedano family. Average home prices have stayed in the mid-to-low $300,000 range. Median prices reveal a market that has dipped back under the $300,000 mark.

Last year, Carson City's housing market saw the fewest number of homes sold in 18 years, at the largest average sale price ever recorded by the city assessor's office, which has tracked all home sales since 1988.

Residential home building will increase in the next few months, said Rick DeMar, chief executive officer of the Builders Association of Western Nevada.

"It looks to me that the people who were really impacted (by the housing slump), were the national, large-production builders," he said. "I don't think custom home builders were impacted that much. There was a wee bit of a slowdown, but not enough to cripple the industry in this area."

Mark Lopiccolo, owner of Lopiccolo Construction, is looking forward to a bright summer for his custom home and remodel business. He's been in business in Carson City since 1978, and was shocked by the boom two years ago, which came along with cost increases for materials and labor. His wife, Jenny Lopiccolo, operates real estate and mortgage businesses.

"This month is better than the last six months," Lopiccolo said Wednesday. "I had only one week when I started to panic because we weren't bidding for projects. Now we're swamped. We have four months (of projects) out in front of us."

People aren't buying as many investment properties, he said, but they are making their homes more comfortable.

Brummer, with Re/Max Realty Affiliates, said this year has been marked by reasonable prices.

"As long as people are competitive with their pricing, their homes will sell," she said.

After making several big life changes, Jordan would like to see a stable market for his home at 301 W. King St.

"I just wanted more space, and my wife and I just got married," said the 62-year-old. "She's selling her house; I'm selling mine. I had a chance to buy 20 acres and a five-bedroom house for very cheap."

Very cheap in Montana is $350,000. He's selling the Carson City home that's two blocks from the Capitol for $399,000. He's a retired state polygrapher who won't entirely leave the profession. Jordan said the job was rewarding because he could help keep sex offenders off the streets and murderers in jail. That calls for some down time in his golden years.

Now he says: "I'm gonna go be a cowboy."

Home prices in 2007:

January - 31 homes sold, average price $350,189; median $274,000

February - 32 homes sold, average price $310,626; median $272,000

March - 28 homes sold, average price $310,192; median $274,500

Source: Carson City Assessor's Office

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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