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This Unexpected California City Could be the Nation's Hottest

Housing Markets

This Unexpected California City Could be the Nation's Hottest

April 5, 2021
Fresno, Calif.
Photo: David

A city known for ranking on lists of America’s worst places to live is now one of the country's hottest housing markets. Rents in Fresno, Calif. Increased 39% since 2017, including a 12% increase that occurred during the pandemic. It’s contradictory to rents in other highly sought out California cities such as Los Angeles and San Jose. The Los Angeles Times says the city is known for its pollution and poverty, and many look at it as a highway rest stop between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. But the residents leaving Fresno continue to outweigh those coming in. Local politicians and housing advocates say the complex housing situation comes from gaps and failures in the city’s housing market.

Local politicians and housing advocates say the situation is the result of gaps and failures in the city’s housing market that have built up over decades and have yet to be reformed after the mortgage foreclosure crisis nearly 15 years ago.

Construction of homes in Fresno nearly screeched to a halt after the Great Recession and remains stalled, even though, before the pandemic, the region was growing faster than others in the state, fueled in part by a booming healthcare sector. The average home value in Fresno is now nearly $300,000, according to real estate firm Zillow, having risen almost as fast as rents over the last four years.

The result is that rental housing for tenants at all income levels is in extremely short supply, with available apartments at record lows, according to data from real estate firm CoStar. And the ability to charge higher rents has increased speculation from investors looking to squeeze returns from newly purchased older properties.

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