How To Find A Good Realtor in Bakersfield, California

The real estate market in Bakersfield, California is the Golden State’s newest gold mine. It attracts investors prospecting for brilliant deals, Millennials looking for the perfect place to pay off student debt, and low-income families. The demand for a good realtor in Bakersfield has never been greater.

In recent years, the median monthly cost of housing has been $1,805 according to NerdWallet. This astounding statistic has led the city to be featured in several nationwide studies and reports. Bakersfield has been rated the second best city nationwide for “Average Joes,” since residents have an average $13,415 in annual surplus income. To put this into perspective, the number 5 spot has only $5,605 in surplus income. Plus, a study by SmartAssest ranked Bakersfield as the fourth best American city to get rid of credit card debt. You can find even more useful rankings and statistics, including family friendliness and affordability information, on WalletHub.

With so many perks attracting homebuyers, real estate tends to enjoy lightning-quick turnover. It’s important to find a top reviewed Bakersfield real estate agent to ensure the best deal on the best property possible.

There are 5 main points on the checklist for a talented Bakersfield real estate agent.

1. Find a Veteran

Those in the know consider 5 years in the business a good benchmark for an experienced Bakersfield realtor. Anything short of that, and your agent will be learning off you. In certain cases, this can work to your benefit. Newer realtors may have more time to devote to you. If they make up for their inexperience with diligence, you may come out on top.

However, there are numerous top reviewed Bakersfield real estate agents with more than 5 years of experience, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a veteran with time to spare.

Regardless of experience, a good agent has national, state, and local credentials. They will be members of the National Association of Realtors, the California Association of Realtors, and the Bakersfield Association of Realtors. Additionally, members of these associations are bound to a code of ethics.

2. Pick a Winner

Once you’ve separated the cream of the crop, it’s time to find the best of the best. Realtors nationwide are in competition for numerous awards. Some of these awards are based on statistics, but other, more coveted awards are peer-reviewed.

For example, top rated Bakersfield realtor Bobby Moreno consistently ranked among the top 20 Caldwell Banker realtors from an international pool of over 100,000. On the other hand, he has received peer-reviewed awards like the highly esteemed Presidents Premier Achievement Award. Finally, websites with client feedback like have rated him with 4.8/5 stars.

While awards aren’t necessary to find a suitable agent, they certainly offer peace of mind. If you land a realtor with this level of credentials, you can rest assured that a killer deal is on the way.

3. Find a Match Made in Heaven

One aspect that many prospective homebuyers overlook is personal chemistry. You and your real estate agent may spend six months or more searching together, so it’s important everyone gets along.

Your collective ability to find a well-suited property will be a matter of synergy. Ensure that you feel at ease around your potential agent. Trust, communication, and transparency are cornerstones of an excellent homebuyer-realtor relationship.

4. Choose a “Hyper-Local”

The top rated Bakersfield real estate agents will be longtime locals. Ideally, they will have been raised in the community. It’s one thing to know basic statistics about local schools, but it’s quite another to have personally attended them.

Permanent locals will have knowledge about a thousand and one things that newcomer realtors won’t. They will understand how efficiently the city council runs, how likely it is that the new property tax bill will be approved, and which corner cafe is the best hipster meet-up.

It’s important that you narrow your search to a handful of neighborhoods. Then choose an agent that knows every neighborhood like the back of their hand.

5. Choose the Right Specialist

The majority of properties in Bakersfield are affordable, single-family homes. Those deciding to buy a home in the area will most likely require an expert in foreclosures, short sales, first-time homebuyers, and/or investment rental properties.

No matter what your personal needs, it is important to determine exactly what type of property you want and find an agent that suits you to the “T”.

Bonus: Questions To Sift Through Potential Realtors

1. Can you provide references?

Any realtor worth his salt should be able to respond immediately with a lengthy, sparkling list of client feedback. On the flip side, consider asking family and friends if they can refer you to a well-reviewed Bakersfield real estate agent.

2. Are there any local properties with unusual histories?

The purpose of this question is to test the agent’s intimate knowledge of the area. That doesn’t necessarily mean the realtor with the best story wins. What matters is the confidence of the answer.

3. What are the drawbacks of buying a Bakersfield home?

The more honest the answer, the more you can trust the agent. Search for forthcoming, genuine, and big-picture responses.

4. How will you keep me informed?

The best response here is a question itself, “What is the best way to keep you informed?” Alternatively, a good agent will respond with a list of possible communication methods. A commitment to service is tough to undervalue.

If you are looking to buy property in Bakersfield, you are well-advised to direct these questions to Bobby Moreno. Born and raised in Bakersfield, he has since acquired 16 years of professional real estate experience. He has put over 700 families in homes during the last 3 years and continues to work hard to grow those numbers. In addition to national, state, and local certifications, he has earned the following credentials:

*Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE)

*Certified Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) Specialist by C.A.R.

*Certified Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) Specialist by C.A.R.

*Equator Platinum/Short Sale Certified


Get in touch today!

Reporting: Slipping home prices won’t last

Despite recent softening, Bakersfield’s single-family home market will likely see price increases in the 12 percent to 15 percent range this year as previously foreclosed homeowners look to buy houses again, a leading local observer predicted Tuesday.

Bakersfield appraiser Gary Crabtree made the forecast in a monthly housing update stating that median home sale prices in the city fell 6.1 percent in January to $195,250.

That median — defined as the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less — was still 18.9 percent greater than the local market saw in January 2012.

The signs of cooling were fairly pronounced in January data, however. The number of home escrows that closed that month was 371, 6.5 percent less than December’s totals. Meanwhile, the inventory of homes for sale in the city grew by 1.6 percent to 945, Crabtree reported.

Cash investors who flooded the local market in recent years, sometimes squeezing out would-be homeowners, have already begun exiting the market, Crabtree noted, largely because rental prices have not kept up with local home price appreciation.
Their exit may present buying opportunities for people who lost their homes to foreclosure during the recession, even as it could hurt the rental market, Crabtree wrote.

“In 2014, I expect to see the ‘boomerang’ (previously foreclosed homeowner turned tenant) buyer replace the investors, thus supplying demand for a moderate increased in pricing,” he wrote.

“However, this will also place a downward pressure on rental prices as the single family rental vacancy (rate) increases with the loss of this market segment.”

Local residential real estate investor Frank St. Clair generally agreed with Crabtree’s assessment. The one point he disputed was the assertion that January was a slow sales month.
In fact, St. Clair said, home sales picked up noticeably in the middle of January — something Crabtree’s data wouldn’t show because they reflect transactions that can be from November and December.

“Right about the 15th (of January), it really started picking up dramatically,” he said.

The recent sales spurt looks like it could carry on through summer, St. Clair predicted, adding that he believes Crabtree is right about increasing demand from people who listed their homes to foreclosure a few years ago.

“We will get overall appreciation” as high as 15 percent this year, he said.

BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox(at)bakersfield(dotted)com

Do Real Estate Prices Influence Super Bowl Appearances?

The 10 NFL teams that have appeared in the Super Bowl the most, seven are from cities with high median home prices, when compared to the national median home price. The opposite is also true; the 10 teams that have been to the Super Bowl the least, if they have even gone at all, generally come from cities with low median home prices.

The following question begs to be asked: Is there a correlation between the real estate prices of the city an NFL team comes from and the number of times that team has been to the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl -

NFL teams From Cities with High Real Estate Prices Tend to Succeed. The following facts support the existence of a correlation between Super Bowl appearances and high real estate prices:

The 10 teams that have been to the Super Bowl the most come from cities with an average median home price (i.e., the average of the median home prices for all 10 cities) of $339,800.

The 10 teams that have been to the Super Bowl the least come from cities with an average median home price of $212,450.

The average median home price of the 10 teams that have been to the Super Bowl the most is significantly higher than the national median home price ($216,700) and the average median home price of all the cities that host NFL teams ($243,341).

Consider some examples of teams and cities that adhere to this possible correlation. San Francisco’s median home price, $751,600, is one of the highest in America. The city also hosts a team that has been to five Super Bowls. The median home price in Washington, D.C., $443,700, is twice that of the national median, and the Redskins have made five trips to the big game. One of New York’s two teams, the Giants, has been to the Super Bowl five times as well; the Big Apple has the high median home price of $517,900.

Real Estate Prices Not Always an Indicator. There are significant exceptions to this hypothetical correlation, however. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Green Bay Packers, three of the NFL’s most illustrious teams, come from cities with low median home prices. Pittsburgh, for example, has a median home price of $92,500, which is a whopping 57.3 percent lower than the national median.

There are also exceptions at the opposite end of the table. Some teams that have rarely been to the Super Bowl come from cities with very high real estate prices. Two of America’s most expensive housing markets, San Diego and Seattle, have only been to the Super Bowl once. If there really were a correlation, the Chargers and Seahawks would consistently be two of the best teams in the NFL.

Did this Correlation Exist in the 2012-2013 NFL Season? Partially. San Francisco has high real estate prices, but Baltimore does not; its median home price of $168,400 is 22.3 percent lower than the national median. If real estate prices always determined who made it to the big game, teams like the Giants, Seahawks, or even the Raiders would be playing on Feb. 3.

The teams from the cities with higher real estate prices won exactly half of the playoff games they played in. In the quarterfinals, New England and San Francisco advanced while Denver and Seattle were felled. New England then succumbed to defeat in the semifinals, yet San Francisco was able to produce a last-minute victory and advance to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Statistics

Real estate prices aside, impress your friends and family with your knowledge of America’s most popular sporting event by sharing these fun facts with them.

First Super Bowl: 1966, Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10. Most wins: Pittsburgh Steelers, six wins (out of a total of eight appearances). Most popular Super Bowl venue: Louisiana/Mercedes-Benz Superdome, seven Super Bowls.

Most-viewed Super Bowl: Super Bowl XLVI (2012), 111.3 million viewers. Cost per second for commercials during upcoming Super Bowl: $133,333. Most money bet on a Super Bowl with Vegas bookies: $94.5 million, Super Bowl XL (2006).

Average number of calories consumed per person watching the Super Bowl: 1,200.

By: Andy Fulton
Jan 29, 2013


Tejon Ranch officials reveal 16 retailers at Outlets

 Tejon Ranch -

Tuesday, Dec 10 2013 05:17 PM

Tejon Ranch Company officials on Tuesday revealed 16 of the 70 retailers coming to The Outlets at Tejon Ranch, when the first phase of the 320,000-square-foot, $90 million shopping center opens Aug. 7.

The tenants, whom officials said had signed lease agreements with Tejon Ranch Company, are: Aeropostale, A’gaci, Auntie Anne’s, Carlisle, Chico’s, Coach, Hot Topic, Lids, O’Shoes, Perfumes 4U, Puma, Rack Room, Skechers, Tilly’s, White House Black Market, and Wilsons.

“When we did our due diligence in the beginning, we wanted to make sure there was a market — if you built it, they would come,” said Tejon Ranch Company senior vice president of real estate Joseph E. Drew, in remarks during the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s lunch forum, “Bakersfield: The Next 5 Years.”

By way of confirming the commercial potential for the Outlets, which will be on the east side of Interstate 5 south of the Highway 99 interchange, Drew referenced two Thanksgiving week incidents at Tejon Ranch Commerce Center on the west side of the interstate.

On Nov. 27, Drew said, all five bays at the Tesla Motors charging station were simultaneously full of power-hungry Teslas — a first. Then, from Nov. 28 through Dec. 1, the Commerce Center Starbucks was the chain’s No. 1-selling store in the nation.
“It’s evidence that the location where the outlet center is located has always been a very popular stop for folks, and we believe that the outlet center will now transition into a destination,” said Barry Zoeller, Tejon Ranch spokesman, in an interview.

Starbucks officials could not confirm the store’s performance. Tesla Motors officials did not respond to a request for comment.

All but two of the retailers announced — Auntie Anne’s, a pretzel company, and Perfumes 4U — sell clothing or accessories.
More significantly, seven of the retailers, including Coach, Chico’s, Aeropostale and Hot Topic have full-price stores in Bakersfield, about a half-hour away.

Anthony Olivieri, principal at Olivieri Commercial Group, which handles marketing and leasing at The Marketplace, said this is proof that retailers are loosening so-called “radius restrictions” mandating full-price stores stay far away their discount brethren.

“A lot of those rules, those unwritten codes, have been softened. Retailers realize, like the Gap and the Banana Republic concept — they manufacture product specifically for outlet malls,” Olivieri said. “You get higher end brands at a discounted price-point and I think that’s attractive to a lot of people.”

When its second phase is completed, the shopping center will be 500,000 square feet. Zoeller said Tejon Ranch Company believes it will generate $400 in sales per square foot of retail space per month — or $128 million in sales per month.

Californian staff writer

Real estate experts say local ‘mini-bubble is over’

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The real estate market in Bakersfield is “in recovery” and trending toward “stabilizing prices.” That’s the view of long-time analyst Gary Crabtree. He said the market is changing from a sellers’ advantage to a buyers’ advantage, though others see opportunities for both.

“You might say the mini-bubble is over,” Crabtree told Eyewitness News on Monday. “We should see some transition back into a normal market.”

From Affiliated Appraisers, he’s been tracking the local market since 1993.

The last few years have been anything but normal, starting with the real estate bubble and then the effects of the bust of 2006-07.

Now, Crabtree said he sees prices coming down and starting to level off.

He said August saw a peak, with the median home price at $199,400. As of October, was $185,000.

Crabtree said that’s a drop of 7.2 percent, but the October median price is still 19.4 percent higher than a year before.

He admitted prices do dip in winter, but he sees a trend.

“We’re seeing a little more decline in prices this winter than we have in the last two winters,” Crabtree explained.

Also, the number of homes on the market is up. On Monday, he saw 1,001 homes for sale, saying that’s about 70 percent more than a year before.

More houses for sale and lowering prices make things better for buyers, he said.

But, Realtor Scott Tobias also sees good news for sellers.

“Right now, it’s a window of opportunity,” Tobias said.

For buyers, the interest rates are good.

“They’re still low,” Tobias said. “And, I believe they’ll go higher by the end of the year.”

He said there are “great” opportunities for buyers to get loans while prices are still reasonable, and thinks buyers with good credit should be able to buy.

Tobias said for sellers, prices are better than a year ago, and many owners now have more equity in their homes.

Both Tobias and Crabtree said investors are no longer in the market, snapping up homes in foreclosure to rent out.

“Investors pulled out of the market three months ago,” Crabtree said.

But, those people who lost homes to foreclosure or short sales are now more likely to be back in the market as buyers.

“Now we have cleared that three-year barrier that the government set, and now they can buy again,” Crabtree said. He called these the “boomerang buyers.”

“Now they’ll be able to leave the rental market,” Crabtree said.

While that means more buyers, Crabtree said another trend spells fewer homes for sale. He said residential construction appears to be declining, because the number of building permits is down.

“(The builders) were averaging a little over 100 permits a month for 2013,” Crabtree said. “In September, they only pulled 57.”

But, the buyers also face challenges because of the current economy.

“It’s still rather weak,” Crabtree said. “Unemployment is rather high, we don’t have meaningful job creation.”

Winter is the “off peak” period for real estate, but Crabtree said there are some special changes in the latest local data.

“It leads me to believe that going forward into the year 2014, it is not going to be anything like what we’ve experienced in 2013 and the latter part of 2012,” he said.

By Carol Ferguson
Eyewitness News
Nov 11, 2013

Is FHA able to endorse single-family loans if the government shuts down?


The mortgage market took the time to dig through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s contingency plan for dealing with a government shutdown last week.

And industry professionals did a nice job reading the fine print, because the fine print changed over the weekend, creating some confusion as to whether HUD will be able to endorse single-family loans in the wake of a government shutdown.

The simple answer: They can endorse single-family loans, but this is a major change from what was reported by HUD on Friday.

HousingWire, along with other news outlets, discovered on pg. 42 of the contingency plan — underneath frequently asked questions — that as apart of HUD’s shutdown plan, the Federal Housing Administration would be unable to endorse any single-family loans. Furthermore, the report said FHA staff will not be available to underwrite and approve new loans. However, all of this was reported Friday, and the contingency plan changed over the weekend.

When I arrived at my desk Monday morning, I received various phone calls and emails informing me that HUD has updated its contingency plan from what was originally reported.

The truth is FHA will be able to endorse single-family loans during the shutdown. In addition, a limited number of FHA staff will be available to underwrite and approve new loans.

This change was quite abrupt, with many industry analysts shaking their heads saying, it’s “kind of important, don’t you think?”

After reaching out to HUD, staff from its Office of Public Affairs confirmed the plan currently on its website is the correct, updated version.

While it’s clear the former and current plans caused quite a few of us to scratch our heads, the housing agency has taken more steps than it did in 2011 when a similar government shutdown challenged the agency.

However, it’s no joke that any sort of government shutdown will require federal employees to cease working.

When put into perspective, of the roughly 9,000 HUD employees, only 350 employees will continue working after a shutdown — that’s only 3.8% of its staff.

Since everything with the government is still up in the air, we’ll cut HUD some slack because let’s face it, the possibility of a shutdown is enough to leave any entity uneasy.

The takeaway: Always read the fine print. The smallest change can make a world of difference.

Article by: Christina Mlynski

Clear Capital(R): Bakersfield, CA Tops Metros With Largest Projected Gains Through Last Half of the Year. Really.

Las Vegas Projected to Lead Metros With Total 2013 Price Growth.

TRUCKEE, Calif., July 2, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Clear Capital (, the premium provider of data and solutions for real estate asset valuation and collateral risk assessment, today released its Home Data Index(TM) (HDI) Market Report with data through June 2013. Using a broad array of public and proprietary data sources, the HDI Market Report publishes the most granular home data and analysis earlier than nearly any other index provider in the industry.

June 2013 highlights include:

— The forecast through June 2013 reveals trends that highlight the overall recovery’s strength and potential for sustainability. Nationally, home prices continue to benefit from the more active spring buying season.

— Quarterly, yearly and two quarter forecasts all came in stronger at 1.4%, 8.6%, and 1.7% respectively, relative to months past.

— A more optimistic update to our total 2013 national forecast of 6.0% over the 2.6% growth projected in our April 2013 report is attributed to increasing home price gains across much of the nation, continuous improvements in distressed market measures and improvements in broad-based economic inputs, such as consumer confidence.

— Should 2013 forecasts be realized, the housing market would outperform historical average gains between 4.0% and 5.0%, but indicate moderation from the current yearly gains of 8.6%.

— Regionally, home price gains saw moderate growth in the short-term, long-term and forecast.

— The West, South, Midwest and Northeast are forecasted to see total 2013
gains of 10.1%, 5.2%, 4.6% and 4.1%, respectively. These gains are comprised of year-to-date growth and two quarter forecasts of 2.2%, 1.5%, 1.8% and 1.5%, respectively. Moderation is key to a sustained recovery. With this in mind, projected regional growth rates are healthy compared to year-over-year gains through June of 17.1%, 7.1%, 6.2% and 4.3%, respectively.

— While metro level market trends showed continued variability, they remained positive overall. Local market economic fundamentals continue to drive varying degrees of price growth.

— 45 out of the top 50 major metro markets are forecasted to see yearly growth over the final two quarters of 2013. Four of the five markets not expected to see home price gains over the next two quarters are projected to see declines of less than 0.5%.

— Las Vegas held its lead in June with yearly gains of 29.3%. The metro is one of six others to have realized more than 20.0% in yearly growth. Considering the two quarter forecast for Las Vegas of 5.0%, the metro will likely end the year as the recovery front runner with total 2013 gains of 19.4%.

— Bakersfield, CA’s two quarter forecast of 5.2% puts this metro in the lead for short term anticipated gains out of the top 50 metros. Bakersfield moved from 29 in March’s Forecast to the first position in June. This leap is an example of the fundamentals driving the overall recovery. Bakersfield shares many characteristics of a First In First Out Recovery and serves as a reminder that the recovery continues to unfold market by market. This market was hard hit in the downturn and now offers an attractive opportunity for homebuyers. From the peak, prices are currently down 54.3%, substantially more than the national losses of 34.2%. Additionally, REO saturation remains relatively high, but on the decline at 21.3%. And overall median prices are relatively low at $160,000.

continue reading…

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All-Cash Offers: Healthy for Real Estate Market, or a Hindrance?


With many pointing to the housing market as the backbone of the economic recovery, investors are flooding the market with all-cash offers and it’s squeezing out many traditional homebuyers.

“People are worried about the returns on alternative investments,” says Karen Dynan, vice president and co-director of economic studies at the Brookings Institute. “There is still a lot of uncertainty about bonds and the stock market, which makes the housing market look good.”

According to the National Association of Realtors May 2013 Confidence Report, all-cash offers account for 33 percent of home sales, with international buyers taking the lead. In addition, 87 percent of surveyed Realtors say they are expiring constant or increasing home prices. Homebuyers, particularly first-time homebuyers, are already battling low inventory and rising home prices, but the added pressure from investors creates stiff competition.

William Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird Research & Insights, says cash buys are being bolstered by investor pools snapping up real estate, and less so by individuals looking to live in the home. “These are investment pools paying cash for houses to hopefully get returns,” he says. “It’s not necessarily a trend among individual homeowners because most people going to buy houses don’t have that kind of cash sitting around.”

And for sellers, an all-cash deal is ideal since is cuts down on complications, says Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insights. “If you own a home and are selling yourself, it’s probably easier if someone pays you cash — it cuts out the messiness and having the homebuyer get approved for a loan.” Typical cash buyers are either young people who come into a lot of cash, or international investors, he says.

Cash buys signal a housing market that people are more willing to invest in, says Delwiche, but the market’s attractiveness may also be due to a lack of other solid investment options. “The housing market is recovering, but people are also looking to diversify their portfolios,” he says. “They don’t’ want to put it all in stocks and bonds.”

It’s a sign that people are under the impression the market is turning around, says Dynan, which may be a self-fulfilling prophecy if enough investors follow. “A lot of those cash investors are looking for a return,” she says. “If a lot of people think home prices will rise, they will put money into the market, and that increases demand and pushes up prices.”

The cash-buying trend also gives the overall economy a short-term boost, according to Delwiche.
“This helps to bid up asset values for houses, and is good for homeowners who already own houses,” he says. “There is also a benefit to state and local government finances because of the taxes associated with these purchases.”

Dynan says the trend will reinforce the momentum in the housing market, but will impact hopeful first-time homeowners negatively in the future. “It just makes the housing market less affordable,” she says. “It’s good for the overall economy, but not for every person in the economy.”

Delwiche agrees, and says it may prevent more people from getting into the market in the future.
“Home prices go up and it affects housing affordability,” Delwiche says. “You can’t have first-time homeowners who are seeds for long-term growth, because they are then crowded out of the market. So short term it’s something of a positive, but is a headwind for first-time homeowners.”

Delwiche says he’d be surprised to see the trend continue, as well. “It’s just a reflection of poor alternatives for investment dollars,” he says.

By Kate Rogers

Investors have swooped in ‘ quickly

Many had little or no presence here before the bust. But they have quickly become some of Kern County’s biggest homeowners.

What distinguishes them now is how long they plan to keep their money here. While there is still plenty of rehab and “flipping” activity, some investors in the local home market have embraced their new role as landlords.

This view of Bakersfield’s latest housing investment boom, based on a Californian analysis of home sales data on the county’s top 20 homeowners, as well as interviews with investors, shows how appealing the local home market remained even during and after a devastating real estate crash.

And it has happened quickly.

Half of Kern’s 20 biggest single-family homeowners have at least tripled their inventory here since the end of 2006, which is generally acknowledged as the beginning of a bust that ultimately hit bottom in spring 2009.

Sixteen of the top 20 have each spent a total of more than $1 million on homes in the county since Dec. 31, 2006. Seven have invested more than $4 million since then, and one has invested $9.3 million.


That last one, Westlake Village-based Alta Community Investment, owns 100 single-family homes in Kern County; all but four of them are in Bakersfield. The county’s second-largest homeowner after a Bakersfield-based partnership, Alta bought all of these properties between March 16 of last year and Jan. 18, according to county home sales records.

The company’s chief executive is Todd Kaufman, a former Wall Street bond trader and mortgage broker with Washington Mutual, the Seattle-based home lender that collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis. With about 65 investors across the United States, he said, Alta owns homes throughout California and in other states, though Bakersfield is “among the larger” areas of investment.

Kaufman said Alta will probably buy more homes in Bakersfield before long.

“Were just refueling for more capital,” Kaufman said, adding that the company intends to keep its local properties for the long term.

A very different investment strategy applies at a group of funds managed by Bakersfield home flipper Miguel Soltero. Together, the various funds — backed by what he calls a “closely knit” group of friends, family and business acquaintances — owned about 60 Bakersfield properties as of March. That made them, as a group, one of Kern’s top 10 homeowners.

County home sales records show that Soltero’s group bought the majority of the properties since the fall of 2011, though some of those investments date back to 2002 and earlier.

Soltero said the group’s guiding strategy is not to rent out these properties but fix them up and sell them at a profit. It’s less capital-intensive than buying and holding, he said, and more profitable, too.

“We have enough rentals to know that, at the end of the day, it hasn’t been that lucrative for us,” said Soltero, a Los Angeles native who moved to Bakersfield at the height of the real estate bubble in about 2005. “We make more money buying, rehab’ing and selling.”


There seems to be little consensus on that conclusion. Indeed, county records show that almost all of Kern’s top 20 homeowners still own local homes they bought four or more years ago, even as much of their investment here has taken place more recently than that.

Becoming a landlord can make good financial sense for investors able to park their money in the real estate market, said Bakersfield Realtor and broker Frank St. Clair, who heads a diverse set of investment groups that together own more than 50 homes in the city.

The return on investment from a single-family home offered for rent averages between 5 percent and 7 percent a year, he said. That doesn’t include the property’s price appreciation, which in Bakersfield hovers around 20 percent per year lately.

St. Clair has made both kinds of investments — for his family trust as well as for his investor customers. Lately his focus has been on flipping homes, given that he and his family owned more than 1,000 local apartment units and rental homes. “We’re rentaled out,” he said.

Some of his customers are not. He said they send him a cashier’s check for the price of the home and he manages it for them as an income property.

“We know how to do it where it’ll make money,” he said.

One reason why Bakersfield makes an attractive place to buy income property, investors say, is the local economy.

Kaufman pointed to Bakersfield’s “well-balanced economy,” with its oil and ag strength complemented with manufacturing and financial services.

Soltero agreed but added that the city’s affordability has been a big factor in luring investment.

“It’s a cheap place to live,” he said. “Your dollar goes a long way.”


To be sure, much of the county’s recent home-buying has been concentrated in Bakersfield.

Fifteen of Kern’s top 20 homeowners have chosen the city for at least 85 percent of their home purchases since the end of 2006. Nine bought homes nowhere else in the county during this period.

Their collective investments span the city, even as the majority of their holdings are located east of Highway 99. Also, different investment groups have focused their activity in certain geographic clusters.

County home sales records show that the ZIP code that has received the greatest investment is 93304, on the east side of the 99 near Stockdale Highway.

The second-biggest investment cluster is in the 93306 ZIP code, in northeast Bakersfield, followed by the 93307 ZIP code further south.

The clusters themselves reflect distinct investment strategies, as some neighborhoods command higher prices than others.

For his part, Kaufman said he’s bullish on the city’s lower-end homes. Accordingly, his company has invested mostly in Bakersfield’s eastern and southern areas.

“Everybody’s got their own opinion,” he said. “People don’t believe in the bottom end of the market. … (But) we believe in that space.”

Californian staff writer

Spring Home Improvements: Repair, Replace, Enjoy!

Spring Home Improvements: Repair, Replace, Enjoy!.

With memories of snow and cold fading, it’s time to remind home owners to take stock of important work to be done for themselves and potential buyers down the road. Keeping on track with seasonal maintenance will lower costs and raise value.
April 2013 | By Barbara Ballinger

Besides cleaning closets and planting flowers and cool-weather vegetables, spring should involve scrutinizing the condition of a house following the rough winter. Repairs and replacements won’t just help owners enjoy their properties more; they’ll also keep energy costs down as hot weather rolls in and attract more buyers, many of whom have become meticulous about inspecting roofs, appliances, and HVAC bills.

While most home owners need to prioritize costs, these 10 improvements are at the top of many contractors’ lists. Some of them are even more affordable than ever before, thanks to rebates from local communities, utility companies, and the federal government.

  1. Replace windows
  2. If home owners’ houses felt drafty this past winter and they have single-pane windows, there’s a good chance those were one of the culprits. But replacing them all can be costly — $400 to $500 per window, plus $100 to $150 for installation, according to home improvement expert Tom Kraeutler of The Money Pit. Whether that’s the place to spend dollars should depend on how long home owners plan to stay put or what houses listed in their neighborhood offer if they’re selling. “If they’re the last ones with old, rotting-wood windows, that negative may affect buyer attention,” Kraeutler says. This year’s “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling magazine pegs the payback for vinyl windows at 71.2 percent and for wood windows at a similar 73.3 percent. A less costly alternative can be to add storms, caulk, weather strip, or rim joists in a basement. Contractor Paul Eric Morse of Morse Constructions Inc. in Somerville, Mass., suggests gradually replacing windows in any room that owners remodel to make the cost less prohibitive.

  3. Install a new heating system and change filters
  4. If a seller’s furnace and boiler were on their last legs this past winter, it may be time to install a new one, or at least provide sellers with a credit toward new equipment. Any choice should carry an EnergyStar label for best results. Existing systems still in good condition should have filters checked monthly and replaced when dark and clogged, a DIY project. For great energy efficiency, Morse is installing more heat exchanges that provide both heat and air conditioning and can be less costly than a new central air system with new ducting and a new furnace.

  5. Clean air conditioning units
  6. Before summer temperatures rise and HVAC pros are swamped, advise home owners to clean coils and change filters so their system doesn’t have to work as hard. They should also have drain lines cleaned, so moisture is eliminated, says Douglas Tompkins, with Pro-Air Heating and Cooling in Newburgh, N.Y. If they haven’t had air conditioning, now’s the time to weigh choices of a central system, heat exchange, or room units.

  7. Install more insulation
  8. A home’s first line of defense to stop cold or hot air — depending on the season — should be the attic, according to most contractors. An energy audit can determine how much more is needed, if they already have some. Seattle-based contractor Ron Rice, of Your House Matters, suggests adding more than the minimum 8 inches required by most local codes — up to 16 inches. For cold climates, installing electric or hydronic radiant heat under bathroom and kitchen floors will provide comfort next season.

  9. Switch out inefficient appliances
  10. Sometimes appliances are no longer smart to repair. The determining factors for that should be their age and the cost of repair versus replacement. Here, too, top choices carry an EnergyStar label. If home owners need to replace most of their kitchen equipment and have a limited budget or plan to move, Rice suggests they prioritize and first switch out the range, followed by the refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave — in that order.

  11. Repair or replace roofs, gutters, and downspouts
  12. Because of the tough hurricane season last fall and the winter blizzards, roofing contractors in many parts of the country have been busy. Morse recommends that those needing new roofs consider architectural asphalt shingles because of their long warranties (often 50 years), affordable prices, and attractive appearances that work with many house styles. In addition, many contractors have the equipment and experience to install roofs of this material, as opposed to metal. He also recommends that home owners have gutters and downspouts cleaned come spring so that water can flow through them; gutters should be angled away from a house to stop water pooling around a foundation and seeping into the basement. Gutter covers can be helpful but often don’t eliminate all debris.

  13. Paint
  14. Damage often shows up at this time of year, especially in climates where there’s been a lot of snow melting or winter rains, Morse says. Use the time to reassess your color choice for better curb appeal. Even changing the front door’s color can make a difference.

  15. Prune trees
  16. Cutting limbs that may have been damaged during winter and that might fall on a roof or allow squirrels to enter a house is smart, and it can be a cost savings later on. Called “thinning out,” this method gets excess foliage trimmed to allow more natural light into a house—and cut down on artificial illumination, says Sacramento, Calif.-based landscape designer Michael Glassman. “It opens the tree so you don’t have dead spots in the interior and lets the tree take advantage of air flow rather than chop off the top,” he says. A certified arborist will know the best ways to do this without removing too much of a canopy, which is useful for privacy and shade.

  17. Mulch plantings
  18. Along with fall, spring is a key mulch time. Mulch helps plants thrive by holding back weeds, retaining moisture so soil doesn’t dry out, and adding a tidy look, Glassman says. Use bark, shredded fir, leaves, straw, or grass clippings.

  19. Replace lightbulbs
  20. When it comes to artificial light, most contractors recommend switching burned-out bulbs to LEDs, which last longer than incandescents, consume less energy, and have come down in price — now often just $10. Quality has improved, too, and they’re dimmable and available in colors.

    One more thing: Before you hire anybody to take on work, get a written estimate. Better to be safe than sorry.