Merced's housing market shows sign of recovery

FRESNO, Calif.

"I really like the floor plan of this because it's a large living room and a large master bedroom."

Developer John Sessions hasn't given tours in the Merced Meadows subdivision since 2007. Back then, the project got off the ground with 20 homes.

But, when buyers stopped coming Sessions says an additional 60 lots were left unfinished.

"We finished the homes where we had commitments and prepared the subdivision for long-term storage."

Fast forward to 2011.

Sessions maintains the development is ready to go.

It's the first one to get started since the city council voted to reduce developer fees to encourage construction and create jobs in the city.

"And without that reduction, we wouldn't be able to price the houses where we price them."

Three bedroom homes here start at $137,000. The project is helping Jim Moulton's plumbing business.

Four years ago, when new homes were at its peak, he employed 50 people. Now, only four are left.

"It's great for us. Anytime you got work. It keeps your employees going and it keeps them in the market of buying houses also," Jim Moulton said.

Merced's foreclosure rate ranks among the worst in the state with nearly 1500 homes.

Still, the developer is confident these new ones will sell.

And neighbors like Boris Gracias who has been living here since 2007 is just as hopeful.

Even though he bought his home for $100,000 more than what the new ones are selling for.

"Well, in a way it feels good the subdivision is finally going to get completed and we're going to have a neighborhood we belong to instead of being in the middle of nowhere," Boris Gracias said.

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