Market poised for growth

2020 Vision: Real Estate

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Market poised for growth“I firmly believe that for the next five years, our real estate market will be quite good,” said Carole Vaughn, who will take over in two weeks as chair of the Ridgecrest Area Association of Realtors.

While new homes and apartments have been in high demand for the last couple of years, onerous state building mandates and an increasingly complicated process for developers have slowed efforts to increase housing options in the Indian Wells Valley. That could change when the anticipated $4-billion recovery effort for China Lake kicks in.

“That activity is going to spark growth for the entire community,” said Vaughn.

She and her predecessor, current RAAR President Norman Alexander, gave an overview of some of the challenges and opportunities, both past and president, that will help shape the coming year and beyond.

“Because real estate affects, and is affected by, all types of economic issues, one of the focuses of RAAR has been to promote the overall health of our community,” said Alexander. “Obviously having a strong economy has a positive impact on property values, so we have been heavily involved in the city and the base and advocating with our elected officials for solutions that will promote that kind of community health.”

Those efforts include working with the IWV Economic Development Corp. to help streamline city development guidelines, supporting efforts that strengthen local business and industry and building stronger relationships with our Sacramento and D.C. representatives.

RAAR reps visited our nation’s capitol just a few weeks before earthquakes hit. “It was helpful because we had a lot of relationships in place that evolved into important partnerships that supported the China Lake recovery,” Alexander said.

The National Association of Realtors also came in with $150,000 to help local homeowners with repairs.

While the recovery period is expected to trigger a flurry of economic activity and growth, both Alexander and Vaughn acknowledged that many challenges remain that could complicate growth beyond the near future.

“There remains a statewide shortage of housing, in particular apartments,” said Alexander. “And water is the other issue of concern.”

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan, recently adopted by the IWV Groundwater Authority as part of a state-mandated management act, prescribes reduced water use (and an anticipated increase in costs) that many are concerned will inhibit new growth or industry.

“Planning for growth while facing reductions is a challenge,” said Alexander. However, he said, he hopes there is time to refine the plan to accommodate all stakeholders.

“But even with earthquakes, housing shortages and a water crisis, Ridgecrest is still one of the best places to invest in a home in the entire state of California,” he said.

“It’s a great time to buy. Prices are relatively low, compared to the rest of the state. When I tell people outside of our city how much it costs to buy a brand-new, 1,800-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bath home here, they are shocked.”

The problem, he said, is that building costs, state mandates and other factors are going to continue driving those numbers up. “We are still subject to the same development and environmental requirements and lending rules as the rest of California. But our cost of living is still relatively low.”

“Especially with the recovery effort, we are going to see a lot more activity here,” said Vaughn.

“One thing to keep in mind is that our community will need to continue to look at the services, infrastructure and other support that need to be here to support that level of growth.

“It’s important to stay positive about our future, but it will also require all of us to stay engaged.”

Story First Published: 2020-01-03