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Housing prices reduce buyers

Home prices are continuing their upward spiral in Nevada County and California, leaving some would-be home buyers in a tough spot.

The median home price in Nevada County hit $289,000 in June, up 15.1 percent from the same month last year when the price was $251,000, according to the Nevada County Board of Realtors.

That’s too rich for Robyn St. John, 27, who is looking to buy. But there’s nothing in her family’s price range, even with two incomes. She works part-time as a dental assistant in Grass Valley, and her husband, Ryan, builds furniture.



Owning a home would make life easier for the St. Johns and their three children in some respects.

The family lost its rental home on Combie Road when it was sold and is now struggling to find a new rental in the $1,200-per-month price range before the start of the school year.




St. John’s grandmother, Belle Murphy, has been hitting the streets and reading the want ads, searching for a rental home for her granddaughter and family.

“Now, kids work hard, they make good wages, but it doesn’t compensate,” said Murphy, a Lake Wildwood resident. “They just don’t make enough money.”

They have to make even more now, as home prices continue to surge in Nevada County and California.

Josh Colburn, 28, said the American Dream is out of reach for him because of home prices.

“If you’re in my age group, you’re not in the club – that’s how a lot of us feel,” said Colburn.

He looked for homes when he moved here from Santa Cruz two months ago, but found nothing habitable that he and his girlfriend could afford.

They have a combined income of $40,000, said Colburn, a professional musician and Nevada Union High School grad. They opted for a one-bedroom apartment in Nevada City.

Basic two-bedroom houses on an acre of land are selling for $250,000 to $300,000, said Colburn – putting them out of his reach.

“Economically, it seems impossible for us at this point in our lives,” said Colburn, particularly without taking on huge amounts of debt.

The real estate market in Nevada County is strong right now, thanks to low mortgage interest rates and a volatile stock market that makes real estate a relatively stable investment.

“The real estate market hasn’t been affected the way the stock market has because it’s a different market and more tangible,” said Skip Lusk, executive vice president of the Nevada County Board of Realtors.

If the jump here sounds high, it is less than the statewide price surge – a whopping 21.3 percent from last June.

The median home price of a single-family home in California was $324,370 in June, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Most regions of the state saw double-digit price increases, CAR said.

Nevada County’s increase in June prices was similar to that of the Sacramento region, where the median price was up 17.5 percent from last June.

Home prices in Nevada County were also up 15.6 percent over the first six months of this year, compared with a year ago.

The median price for the first half of 2002 hit $266,000, compared with $230,000 during the same time last year.


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