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Construction returns to Ceres
Florsheim Homes poised to finish 39 lots in Eastgate OKd in 2006
New homes are being constructed in Bing Cherry Estates at Cavailer Court and Valera Drive in Eastgate. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The sound of plywood slapping against trusses and nail guns driving nails into 2x4s is being heard in Eastgate, Ceres' easternmost development.

With demand for houses on the rise, subdivisions that were approved before the nation's housing mortgage crisis but never finished are apparently making their way back to construction mode.

Tom Westbrook, director of Community Development for the city of Ceres, said the city recently issued Florsheim Homes permits to build three single-family homes. In 2006, Florsheim won approval for Bing Cherry Estates subdivision but abandoned construction of the last 39 lots south of Hatch Road and west of Eastgate Boulevard.

"My understanding is they are just trying to finish off their remaining unfinished lots," said Associate Planner James Michaels with the city of Ceres.

Interest is picking up to finish other projects that were chilled by the mortgage fiasco and resulting recession. One of those areas includes Northwood Heights off of Evans Road where building halted years ago.

The Westpointe area west of Morgan Road has a number of unfinished lots off of Malik and Whitmore avenues but there has been no talk yet of building there, commented Michaels.

Another project that could come to fruition is Tuscany Village south of Whitmore Avenue between Blaker and Morgan roads where 40 senior retirement residential lots were included with a strip shopping center. Only one commercial building has been constructed, said Michaels.

Home construction is expected to increase in the Valley now that the supply of foreclosed homes is dwindling and homeowners who were underwater may sell with their investment back. Some homeowners are reluctant to sell either because they are awaiting to see how much higher prices are going or because they are fearful of being displaced in the buying frenzy that is taking place in the Valley. Eric Ingwerson, a real estate agent with PMZ of Ceres and a member of the Ceres City Council, said buyers are competing for too few houses, which has caused bidding wars and increased prices. Sellers may be forced to move into interim housing or feel the pressure to buy a home they may not want.

"Those who are no longer upside down and thinking of changing need to remember that ... it may be difficult to find a replacement home," said Ingwerson.

He said that compared to a normal market, Ceres' available housing inventory is down an estimated 60 percent. Ingwerson said in a balanced market there would be 150 homes on the Ceres market at any given time; today that number hovers around 65 homes.

Housing inventory has dwindled because construction came to a screeching halt when the nation found itself in the clutches of the mortgage crisis that started in 2010.
Construction is expected to occur slowly in areas like California because of a shortage of skilled construction laborers. Many workers in the immigrant-heavy construction industry either returned to Mexico or found work elsewhere.

Ingwerson said there could be a lag in building to meet demand.

"They just can't go out and flip a switch and start building again," he said. "They have to get the land, get the drawings, get the subdivision maps before they can build again."

He believes the next big wave for new housing will be in the 960-acre West Ceres Annexation.