Worst Decline in Home Prices Predicted for Kings County

Kings County, California Neighbors in a fairly new development in Hanford say there aren't as many foreclosures as there were a few years ago. Take it from one homeowner who bought one.

David Fagan said, "I got a great deal at the time hopefully it doesn't go down too bad."

But economists at Moody's economy.com -- in their latest national survey of home prices predict the housing market in Kings County will be one of the worst in the nation -- plummeting an estimated 29% this year.

Eduardo Martinez with Moody's said, "Housing prices more than doubled way ahead of population growth and just the growth of the economic base."

Martinez is blaming the problem on the doubling of home prices from 1999-2006 ... the County's heavy economic reliance on Lemoore Naval Air Station ... a struggling agriculture industry and problems with the state prison system.

"There's a lot of pressure on the state now to release the number of prisoners and it looks like the state's going to have to at least pull back on the pay that's going to go to prison guards," said Martinez.

Many homeowners Action News talked to said they can't see home prices falling as dramatically as 29% but admit Kings County's economy needs a big boost.

Lemoore homeowner Paulette Bellamy said, "I just think it's going to be a matter of time that things can recover and uh more and more people are still losing their homes, you hear it every day."

John Lehn with the county's Economic Development Corporation says the "one-stop job center" is packed with more than three-thousand people each month. He says Kings County's unemployment rate of more than 18% may also be in part to surrounding small towns where unemployment is much higher. Still, he says Kings County may be getting a bad rap.

"I think the sheer numbers of Kings County work against us in these types of comparative studies it's a very small market compared to say Los Angeles," said Lehn.

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