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How current real estate development impacts the future of Claremont’s market

by Ryan Zimmerman

Prospective buyers often contact me looking to purchase a home in the “area.” Sometimes, they are looking over a span of cities along the foothills but, more often than not, they are looking for a home in Claremont—only Claremont. As a lifelong resident, it’s no surprise to me that Claremont commands such a demand. The city is beautiful, the amenities are bountiful, the feel is charming and the real estate market…is booming.

Home values in Claremont have braved many different market cycles, but the City of Trees always seems to come out on top. In 2007 and 2008, when the real estate market began its descent, Claremont certainly saw home values slipping. Average sales prices in Claremont dropped roughly 21 percent from $645,000 to $507,000 over the course of the declining market from the peak in 2006 to the trough in 2011. While that sounds like Claremont took a hard hit, the city, in fact, held its value significantly better than our neighbors to the east, which saw decreases in value as high as 38.5 percent. Those numbers only grew worse, as much as 50 to 60 percent, the further east one would travel toward the desert communities.

Fast forward to 2014, and some Claremont home values are close to full recovery, nearly returning to pre-crash levels based on average sale prices city-wide. A change in the winds for real estate occurred again in Claremont in 2014, as many new housing developments are moving forward, marking the only new development in Claremont since Village Walk and Stone Canyon broke ground a decade ago.

There are a total of eight new developments, several of which are already under construction with initial phases completed. Citrus Glen, a 50-unit townhome development on the corner of Base Line Road and Monte Vista, has several units completed that are beginning to be sold. Serrano is a development of 93 small, single-family detached condos and is located on the southeast corner of Base Line Road and Mountain Avenue. The old Johnson Barns property on the south side of Base Line Road has been approved for a 60-unit townhome development. Construction has yet to begin at this site.

Another proposed development, to be built on the southeast corner of Base Line Road and Towne Avenue, is tentatively going to carry 95 townhomes on the site. Many longtime Claremont residents have expressed mixed feelings on the development, as for several decades it has been Claremont’s local strawberry patch and has become somewhat of a Claremont landmark.

Heading south to the Village, the next approved development will be at the former Rich’s Products site on the south side of West First Street. This project will include retail and live-work spaces on the first floor, and 74 apartment units on the upper three floors.

The Old School House is in the midst of finalizing their plans to develop several new housing projects, which will include the rebuilding of the old hotel structure into new condominiums. Construction has also begun on a 21-unit condominium development on the southwest corner of Vista Drive and Indian Hill Boulevard. And, lastly, a 13-unit development is being proposed for the north side of San Jose Avenue, east of Indian Hill.

New developments have been long overdue in Claremont, though there is some concern surrounding the volume happening within such a short period of time. From a real estate market perspective, so much new development could, in fact, “flood the market” with too much like-for-like multi-level inventory hitting too quickly. All of the developments moving forward are two- to three-story condos with no single-level units, and no downstairs bedrooms with full bathrooms, despite the high demand for such a product. This may have an adverse effect on the property values of condominiums and small single-family homes throughout the city but, if buyer demand can continue to be as strong as it currently is and the available inventory remains low, Claremont may make it through this development boom unscathed.

Only time will tell what impact all the new development will have on the overall local marketplace but, one thing is for certain, Claremont is a resilient city and will continue to be one of the most desirable places to live within southern California.

[Editor’s note: Ryan Zimmerman is a Claremont native, having resided in Claremont for more than 28 years. Mr. Zimmerman attended Claremont High School and then moved on to Cal Poly Pomona, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in finance, real estate and law. He currently works for Wheeler-Steffen Sotheby’s as a full-time real estate broker. —KD]

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