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Central Valley home prices play catch-up

February 18, 2007|Diane Wedner | Times Staff Writer

Who says home-price appreciation is screeching to a halt all over California?

Those who don't know about Wasco, that's who. Located 139 miles north of Los Angeles near Bakersfield and dubbed the Rose Capital of the Nation, the city ranked No. 1 in the state for home-price appreciation in 2006, according to data of areas with more than 100 sales compiled by a La Jolla-based research firm.

Prices of resale homes in that Central Valley ZIP Code of 93280 jumped 53.7% from the year before, DataQuick Information Services reported. The bad news is that the number of sales dropped 34.8% year over year in that ZIP Code.

The median price was $207,500, up from $135,000 in 2005.

And then there's Lamont's 93241 ZIP, ranked second. Just south of Bakersfield, the city of 13,296 saw median home-price gains of 52% compared with 2005 -- from $125,000 to $190,000.

"The Central Valley is doing some catch-up," said John Karevoll, DataQuick's chief analyst.

More than half of the 10 California ZIP Codes with the greatest price appreciation were in the Central Valley. Bay Area buyers, in particular, are cashing out to make investment and second-home purchases, with plans to retire to the Central Valley. Not all of the splashiest home appreciation is taking place mid-state, however. Indian Wells' 92210, near Palm Springs, is the Southland's standout. It's where the super-wealthy go to buy second homes; half of the buyers come from out of state. The median price of a home there last year was $1.15 million, up 29.9% from $885,000 the year before.

As for the ZIP Codes with the steepest price declines last year, four of the top 10 were in Southern California: Pasadena 91105 saw an 8.1% decline to $980,000 from $1.07 million; San Juan Capistrano 92675 slid 6.6% to $685,000; Ventura 93001, 6.3% to $580,000; and San Diego 92128, 6.2% to $610,000.

Topping that list was Menlo Park, south of San Francisco, where home prices dropped 19.2%, to $871,000.

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diane.wedner@latimes.com

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