Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 15
Williams Homes brings new houses to Northern Santa Barbara County
BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
Construction workers crawl like ants both outside and inside 12 homes being constructed in a housing development that was abandoned by Capital Pacific Investments when the housing bubble burst on the Central Coast.
Williams Homes, a Santa Clarita-based developer, resurrected the Harvest Glen development last year and held a grand opening on June 14, showing off the four models that will eventually make up the 139 homes planned for the space behind Aquistapace Elementary School, which is also under construction.
Harvest Glen isn’t the only project actively under construction in Santa Maria: La Vigna, on the corner of Battles and Westgate roads, is finally building out the remainder of its townhouses. As of Jan. 1 of this year, a little more than 2,000 residential units—houses, condos, apartments, etc.— were at some stage in the permitting process with the city of Santa Maria.
That’s almost as many units as there were in 2008, right around the time investors put the lid on their projects or headed for bankruptcy, leaving empty lots between newly paved roads where weeds grew behind chain-link fences.
Steve Johnson, director of construction operations for the Central Coast division of Williams Homes, said that lack of construction is what brought his eye to Santa Maria. The Santa Clarita developer started scouting for new markets as housing prices came out of hibernation.
“As the recession kind of bottomed out, we started growing faster,” Johnson said of Williams Homes. “We wanted to grow outside of our markets, and the Central Coast has the most potential for us.”
Why? The answer is pretty standard these days.
“We see it as an underserved market, basically,” Johnson said. “We met with local realtors who said they didn’t have enough homes to sell.”
The shortage of homes for sale on the Central Coast has been on realtors’ radars for the last couple of years, but that lack is also something that has enabled home prices to rebound somewhat, according to Peter Rupert from the UC Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project.
“For whatever reason, there’s just very little inventory,” Rupert said. “There’s no supply, there’s no inventory of homes, so you would expect housing prices to go back up.”
And those housing prices rebounded at a rapid rate. Although they are nowhere near where they were at the height of the housing craze, prices on the Central Coast went up nearly 20 percent from 2013 to 2014. Rupert said that rate of increase has slowed to a less mind-boggling rate. From March to April of 2014, prices only increased by less than 1 percent.
Rupert doesn’t attribute that change to anything more than the market balancing itself out again.
As for housing prices at Harvest Glen, Johnson said those are between $330,000 and $405,000, depending on the size of the model: There are two one-story residences and two two-story residences with floor plans ranging from approximately 1,600 to 2,600 square feet. Each has three bathrooms, lots of windows for light, and a great room—a large space where the kitchen, family room, and eating area is.
Siby Jehn-Johnson, in charge of marketing for the Central Coast branch of William Homes, said three homes were sold before the grand opening and one lady asked if she could buy one of the models, decorations and all.
Beige and brown paint was still being touched up on the stucco-covered outside walls June 12. Inside, the models are decorated in themes—orange and white fill the bright, airy, smallest model, a three-bedroom, three-bath. That model was incidentally the favorite at the grand opening, according to Jehn-Johnson.
“It’s affordable, it’s spacious enough for a young family,” she said.
Jehn-Johnson calls the grand opening a success—79 groups toured the homes and three potential buyers are in the process of getting qualified for a loan. If those buyers do qualify, Harvest Glen’s home sales would total six before a single home in the development is completed.
Harvest Glen will be built out 12 to 13 homes at a time, with the second batch of 13 starting the week after the grand opening. Johnson, in charge of construction, said the plan is to finish construction and have all the homes sold in the next two years.
The developer has two other projects in progress on the Central Coast and is looking for more. A gated community for seniors in Santa Maria will be called Parkland Cottages. Johnson said the models for Parkland Cottages would be up in October with homes to deliver by the end of the year. In Vandenberg Village, the developer has plans for 48 one-story homes on large lots with views of the Burton Mesa.
Harvest Glen’s home models and office are located on West Anthony Place in Santa Maria.
For more information, call 922-5552 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Staff Writer Camillia Lanham at email@example.com.
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