Merced sees boom in construction of homes

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- The sounds of new construction can be heard all over the city of Merced these days.

"You can see that we have construction going on, not just in north Merced but also South Merced, what we call East Merced near Campus Parkway. And if you consider this west because it's on the western edge, even west. So the nice thing is we're kind of growing in every direction," says Director of Development Services Scott McBride.

McBride says this is a welcome change. From 2009 to 2013, only 22 new homes were built.

So far this year, there have been nearly 500. Several new apartment buildings are also in the works to help keep up with growing enrollment at UC Merced.

"So we don't have students who are doubling or tripling up in rooms in neighborhoods. They can have opportunities to be in apartments where it's a different living style," he says.

The housing boom is bringing new jobs in many construction-related fields, increasing impact fees that can help spruce up parks and other amenities, and helping to attract more shops, hotels, and restaurants. But it is causing some frustration for current homeowners who are looking to sell.

"We were in a seller's market for so long but now we're shifting to a buyer's market, and in that shift, sellers still think their property is worth this and the developers are selling this for a brand new home with all the amenities, and so that's slowed down our market," says realtor Scott Oliver.

Oliver says many of the developers are able to offer good deals because they purchased land during the recession at rock bottom prices and waited to build. But he says buyers should remember that new construction can come with extra costs.

"Landscaping is a big thing because nowadays the builders don't do back landscaping. They don't even do patios anymore. You have to hire your own contractor to do patios, patio covers, landscaping," he says.

But Oliver is optimistic the Merced market will continue to strengthen over the next year, and he says residents should feel good about all of the new opportunities coming to the community.
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