Homeowners are leaving uptown for downtown

FRESNO, California

The move to a new Downtown Fresno apartment four months ago has meant a change in lifestyle for Travis Sheridan.

"I met more people in 72 hours being downtown in the Tower than I did for three years living in the suburbs," said Sheridan. "Here it really feels like a sense of community where we know our neighbors, we trust our neighbors."

Before the housing crash, Sheridan lived in 28-hundred square foot home in North Fresno. Now he says the two bedroom, 11-hundred square foot unit at the new Broadway Lofts, is all he really needs.

Sheridan said, "Before the recession we were at a time of surplus and everybody got very greedy, myself included, buying things we didn't need, taking home equity loans and being frivolous with it."

According to a just-released report by the UCLA Andersen forecast many Californians will be downsizing, like Sheridan has done. The study also predicts a significant shift in demand towards condominiums and apartments.

Reza Assemi said, "I think we're reevaluating what's important in life and how we spend that time, I think that has a big part of it."

Downtown Fresno Developer Reza Assemi says the trend toward smaller, urban living has been gradual as downtown areas are being revitalized, but he has noticed a spike in recent years. "I've noticed people are coming in now that may not have wanted to live here 2-3 years ago."

This predicted move from big to small could mean California will be slower to recover from the recession.

A recent CoreLogic report shows almost 50% of Valley homes, are upside down on their mortgage compared to 22% nationwide and UCLA forecasters say the state's unemployment will likely stay above 10% due in large part to a lack of new construction.

But Loan Officer Paul Salazar has his own predictions. "The majority of these people that were foreclosed on will be back in the game, so to speak."

Once financially stable, he believes those who lost their homes will soon be back in the market and others will find home bargains that are too good to pass up.

Salazar said, "I believe that people are tightening their belts, I think people are taking a second look about buying versus renting, but if they do their homework they'll see that it's still a lot cheaper to own than it is to rent."

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