National housing boon reaches Vallejo

The city once considered the butt of Bay Area jokes is apparently getting the last laugh.

The national phenomenon of a sellers’ market has reached Vallejo — big-time. Homes are selling for significantly more than the asking price — great for the seller, not-so-great for the buyer, and a dogfight for roughly 400 real estate agents scrambling for the meager 44 single-family homes available in Vallejo.

“It’s just a hot, hot market,” says Todd Willis, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker/Solano Pacific in Benicia, where just seven single-family homes are up for grabs.

In the last 30 days, Willis has sold one Vallejo house for $25,000 over the asking price and another $20,000 over the asking price, plus a “little condo” for $5,000 over the asking price.

Willis compared the home-buying activity to the “toilet paper buying frenzy” at the start of COVID-19.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in Vallejo,” Willis said.

A non-pandemic year? Probably 100 homes typically for sale, said Pippin Dew, Realtor for Re/MAX Gold in Vallejo, adding that the average house on the market here is an “even more surprising” $545,000.

Dew’s latest sale — 1165 Azuar Drive on Mare Island — sold this week for $765,000, some $65,000 more than the asking price. Dew said she’s had one home sell for $150,000 over asking.

Pippin Dew recently sold Sarah Rennison the Mare Island home that once belonged to Rennison’s parents. (Chris Riley—Times-Herald) 

The past year has been the hottest for sales activity nationally in 14 years, according to Zillow Group Inc.

It’s basically a combination of mortgage rates dropping, new-home construction lagging behind demand, homeowners holding onto houses longer, millennials aging into prime-home buying years, and, thanks to the pandemic, many now working remotely seek more space, reported the New York Times. And many who delayed relocation because of COVID-19 post-vaccination feel safer to pack up and move.

Dew agreed with most of the assessments.

Because of the pandemic, “the broad acceptance of work from home with large employers has allowed people to be less bound by the physical location of their employer,” Dew said. “This has allowed people to begin considering areas farther away from their employer as places they may wish to live.”

Many families have had to create “classrooms” in their homes to accommodate distance learning and “between the need for classrooms and work from home office space, people are looking for larger homes with more bedrooms,” Dew continued, adding that “with the stay-at-home orders, many people decided they wanted their home to be a more pleasant place to be, which has increased demand for larger yards. Broadband connectivity with access to high-speed internet is a must.”

Vallejo is the No. 3 hottest real estate market in the country, said Tim Hiemstra of Napa River Realty based in downtown Vallejo.

“I’ve been a real estate broker and agent…

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