Local realtor optimistic about 2013 residential trends
By Dave Fidlin | SDUN Reporter
Despite the sluggish economy, the state of residential real estate transactions remains strong in Uptown neighborhoods, and Marla Hovland, vice president and realtor with San Diego-based CityMark Realty, said there are several attributes boding well for the area, including a strong sense of community and support for many historic buildings that dot the landscape.
“There hasn’t been the carnage around here that you’ve seen in other areas of San Diego, such as in parts of Downtown,” Hovland said. “Uptown rebounded pretty quickly, and it’s stayed very strong. We consider this to be a niche market.”
Hovland said Uptown has appeal to a wide range of prospective homebuyers, ranging from younger, first-time buyers to baby boomers who are scaling down their living quarters.
“The younger generation really likes this area for the urban feel,” Hovland said, “but the boomers also like it because they’re right-sizing and looking for something that’s easier to maintain.”
Established more than a decade ago, CityMark officials tout their ability to sell and market residential properties within the city’s urban areas. Their main office is located in Downtown’s East Village.
In an era where financing new developments is cumbersome, Hovland expressed enthusiasm about a new development in Uptown that will break ground imminently as 2012 gives way to 2013.
CityMark’s project development arm is behind a new endeavor called Street Car Row, located near Adams Avenue and Idaho Street in University Heights. The development’s name, and some of the design elements, pay homage to San Diego’s historic streetcars.
Groundbreaking is set to begin soon, Hovland said, and the entire development is slated for completion by October 2013.
All told, the mixed-use Street Car Row development will consist of 10 townhouses, two flats and a large, lower-level retail space.
“It’s being built with a lot of the existing historical elements in mind,” Hovland said. “There aren’t a lot of developers out there who are getting financing, so we’re excited about this. We’re excited to be building again and to be back in the game.”
Street Car Row comes on the heels of another, smaller development in Mission Hills that CityMark oversaw. Consisting of four residential condo units, the Mission Hills development was almost fully occupied in a 45-day period.
CityMark and its affiliated contractors have been incorporating a number of green elements, including solar panels, into the new residential developments.
In year-to-year comparisons, Hovland said home sales in Mission Hills have been particularly strong, a nod, she said, to the firm’s desire to put its weight behind Street Car Row.
From a strictly real estate perspective, Hovland said homes within the $500,000 price range continue to sell quickly in Uptown.
“I would especially say homes in the high 3’s and low 4’s do especially well around here,” Hovland said, referring to homes in the $300,000 and $400,000 range.
But Hovland said homes in Uptown – and other areas of San Diego – on the market for $750,000 and beyond continue to have a difficult time getting snapped up.
“That reaches an entirely different demographic, and one that is much smaller,” she said.
Adding to the mix of prospective homebuyers are people who relinquished previous homes at the onset of the recession through short sales. Depending upon the terms of the sale, people selling homes through this method generally cannot purchase a home during a two- to four-year period.
“We’re seeing some of them come back,” Hovland said. “They still believe in that American dream. From what I’ve been hearing, they want to be a part of it.”