Published 5:15 pm, Tuesday, October 17, 2017
As real estate prices continue to rise in the Bay Area, Vallejo is now in the middle of a renaissance as home buyers flock to the waterfront city in Solano County.
Nearly a decade removed from municipal bankruptcy, Vallejo boasts a thriving housing market, tech-savvy infrastructure and an improving school system.
As the property values surge in Oakland and San Francisco, potential buyers have expanded their search area when shopping for a home. This proves to be a boon for Vallejo, which has seen a multi-year rally in its real estate market as their prices remain a fraction of those in the rest of the Bay Area.
“There are substantial savings across the bridge,” said Linda Daraskavich, president of the Solano Association of Realtors and a broker for Coldwell Banker. “What you’re seeing here is consistent with other parts of the Bay Area, where you have multiple offers and homes selling for over the asking price.”
Location remains the most important factor in real estate, and Vallejo’s proximity to Oakland and San Francisco accounts for part of its appeal. However, new housing developments and the city’s new high-speed broadband network aims to make the city both a destination for buyers and a hub for the tech community.
“Fiber communications are critical to public services and commerce in the 21st century,” Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said. “With downtown and Mare Island right on the waterfront and affordable commercial real estate, we are perfectly situated in the San Francisco Bay Area to become a destination for the new economy.”
The gigabit fiber is a public-private partnership that leases city-owned fiber to Inyo Networks, Inc. The network firm markets and provides retail services to a variety of agencies, including government, medical and educational institutions.
Vallejo has ranked No. 1 for nine consecutive months this year in Realtor.com’s “hotness” index. Realtor.com’s hotness index measures where houses sell the fastest and what markets have the most views on the website. Vallejo has sat toward the top of the list every month this year and outpaces other major players like San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward.
The median price of a single-family home in Solano County is $378,000, roughly half of the Bay Area’s median price, and the city boasts a stock of classical homes and recent construction. Victorians, bungalows, and tract houses are peppered throughout the city, while newer construction by Lennar, Shea and KB Homes feature Mediterranean and contemporary designs.
Famed architect Julia Morgan even built in Vallejo. In 2015, one of her designs hit the market and listed for less than a million dollars. The brown-shingle five-bedroom would command a price north of $4 million had it existed in San Francisco, listing agent Jason Born said.
Typically, a house spends one month on the market in Vallejo before selling. That’s slightly less time than the surging markets of San Francisco and San Jose.
Schools will always be a concern for families looking to buy a home, and Vallejo’s educational opportunities are on the upswing.
The city now features a mixture of private, public and charter schools. For the third straight year, U.S. News and World Report named Mare Island Technology Academy “One of America’s Best High Schools.” The publication’s award is based on academic achievement, graduation rate and percentage of students going to college.
Other coveted schools include Annie Pennycook Elementary, St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School and Vallejo Charter School.
Realtor Valerie Bechelli and her team recently sold 3024 Overlook Drive in Vallejo’s Hiddenbrooke Golf Course Community. The four-bedroom, three-bathroom sits on a quarter of an acre 10 minutes from the Vallejo Ferry. Built in 2002, the home offers hillside views, new windows, a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances and hardwood flooring throughout.
The Hiddenbrooke Golf Course, designed by Arnold Palmer, winds behind the home that features gabled rooftops and a turret near the front door.
While the community is an enclave with one access road, residents of the Hiddenbrooke community represent a microcosm of Vallejo itself, Bechelli said. Young professionals, tech workers and retirees all call the community home.
“The demographics are kind of across the board,” she said. “We’ve had several people move from San Francisco to this area.”
Any time a city transforms in such a dramatic way there are concerns about lost identity. Vallejo celebrates its diversity and offers plenty of room for growth, so citizens aren’t in immediate risk of being forced out by rising home prices, said Joanna Altman, assistant to the city manager.
With so many local affordable housing options available, Vallejo is not seeing the type of exodus that comparable Bay Area cities are experiencing, she said.
“Bay Area wide housing and rent prices are on the rise, but Vallejo remains the affordable option,” she said. “Choose Vallejo.”