TRACY (KPIX) — Anyone wondering where some of the residents who fled from the Bay Area during the COVID-19 pandemic should just look to the east.
In late 2008, in the middle of the financial crisis, the zip codes of Mountain House were the most underwater in the country. 90% of the homeowners owed more than their property was worth, by an average of $122,000.
Since the start of the pandemic, that has changed dramatically.
“Mountain House was not even on the map for a long time in the Bay Area,” said resident Girish Mohan. “Anyone I talked to who I said, ‘We bought a house in Mountain House,’ it was always like, ‘What? Mountain what?'”
Talk to those who have lived here for a while, and they’ll tell you Mountain House was slowly gaining appeal until disaster struck.
“The pandemic just sped up the whole process,” Mohan says. “Everybody wants a big backyard, working from home, [you] don’t have to commute over Altamont Pass. All that kind of added benefits to Mountain House.”
The result has been a rapid increase in home prices. Some home value estimates have jumped nearly 20%, in barely six months.
“Prices have really hit the roof,” said longtime resident Nadia Abushi.
Abushi told KPIX she can see her community changing, by the day, at her pandemic-inspired front yard market.
“Just Sunday alone. I met six new families that just moved from the Bay Area,” Abushi said. “And said that they paid over $50,000 to $100,000 over asking price for the home.”
No longer a fallback for buyers priced out of other parts of the Bay Area, Mountain House is now a target for families willing to spend on space and schools.
“What we have here in Mountain House perfectly fits the bill for everyone,” said real estate agent Mahendra Damodra of the demand. “It’s completely changed now. It’s for people who want everything, not just for the affordability’s sake.”
It is a dramatic change of fortune for a community that has already seen several of them. No one here is taking anything for granted.
“It’s a seller’s market,” Mohan said of his recent home sale. “I want to be one of the first, or first few, to make the big chunk and see how the market takes its shape.”
“Interesting times,” Abushi said. “It’s interesting, scary, all at the same time. It’s kind of unpredictable, to be honest with you.”