Lower Property Values Sink Idea of Pool

Fresno, CA When Dave Wilcox had his pool built seven years ago he said he had plenty of equity on his house that he could finance it with. "We not only built the pool, this back yard was a complete empty lot. We put a significant amount of financing together to put the pool together, backyard landscape, and in today's market I don't think we have the equity value we did then."

And that's a hard reality for Greg Kearns, Vice President of Wildwood Pools. "We were upwards of 150 to 200 pools so the heyday there was a tremendous amount of growth in Fresno and the whole Valley."

These days he builds less than 100 pools a year. "People aren't able to get financing like they used to and in certain Valley areas you can hardly get any financing."

Fresno County tax assessor Robert Werner just sent out about 47,000 notices to homeowners advising them their property values have plummeted.

The total loss of taxes to the county? Two and a half billion dollars. Werner said, "It's extremely detrimental to the local economy."

Greg Kearns has had to lay off employees and make some full timers part timers, but he's managed to stay afloat. He said 4 valley competitors have gone under in the last six months. "Now all of a sudden that pool of money isn't there anymore and anyone that has built a business based upon that money being available is in trouble."

Werner said it may be a while before homeowners build up enough equity to do any improvements to their homes.


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