Better times ahead with housing uptick, high-speed Internet

Feather Publishing

  After more than half a decade in the dumps, Plumas County might be ready to emerge from the depths of the Great Recession. At least it looks like we have hit the bottom.

  A story in last week’s Sacramento Bee offered a ray of hope for our local real estate market. Granted, it usually takes time for surging housing prices to reach rural areas, but the housing market in California cities is red hot. And no city is booming more than Sacramento.

  The Bee’s April 18 story reported the median home price in Sacramento County jumped more than 31 percent in March compared with the same month last year. The median price of $205,000 broke the $200,000 barrier for the first time since 2008. Last year at this time, the median home price in Sacramento was $156,000.

  A survey of Realtors in Plumas County revealed a situation not nearly as rosy as Sacramento’s. But they agreed the worst may be behind us. The higher-priced second homes — which constitute a significant chunk of our market — are still empty. And offers are few and far between. But the market for lower-priced starter homes is showing signs of life. Some of the homes are selling for the asking price, which hasn’t happened since the real estate bubble burst five years ago.

  With an improving job market statewide and mortgage interest rates at an all-time low, it is just a matter of time before the second-home market regains some traction.

  We could begin to see signs of recovery this summer when more tourists start showing up to play and relax in our forests, lakes and rivers. Gas prices, which traditionally rise during the summer driving season, are actually expected to fall by about 30 cents in the coming weeks, according to several reports. Cheaper gas could prompt more people to make the relatively short drive from the greater Sacramento Valley, Bay Area and Northern Nevada regions.

  Some local resorts are already reporting an increase in summer reservations.

  News that things are getting better in the big city is good news for us. They are the people who will be spending their recreational dollars here and buying our vacant vacation homes.

  We are still a long way from the prosperity we enjoyed a decade ago. And, as much as we would like to see job-producing businesses move here the reality is we still rely heavily on tourism and recreation to pay the bills.

  That being said, we could see a surge in job growth when the installation of the fiber-optic Internet transmission lines is completed this summer, thanks to Bob Marshall, general manager of Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative, who began working on this project several years ago. His foresight, determination and hard work will make high-speed broadband Internet availability become a reality throughout the region.

  Not only will it fill the immediate technological needs for many in the public and private sector already here, but should create a new market for those who work from their homes.

  Marshall, along with Audrey Ellis, executive director of the Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce, recently formed a recreation and technology team (rec and tech) that has been busy planning strategies to promote the quality of life we all enjoy here with this new, very fast high-speed Internet service.

  It might take some time before we feel our share of the good times. But it certainly feels like better times are on the horizon.

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