Several families took weeks-long camping trips in the San Ramon Valley recently, but not to enjoy the great outdoors. Instead, approximately eight hopeful home buyers pitched tents outside Gale Ranch offices in Dougherty Valley with the hopes of buying one of nine new homes.
A new phase of homes in the Solaris neighborhood in the Gale Ranch community went on sale Saturday morning, with asking prices starting around $700,000. The subdivision consists of 108 homes, though Shapell released Saturday's homes on a first-come, first-served basis. So far, Gale Ranch officials have received eight deposits on the released homes.
The single-family homes are located on the east side of Gale Ranch, just north of Bollinger Canyon Road. While some families camped out for more than two weeks, others hired people to wait in line for them, according to reports.
"The best way that we have to sell in a high demand area is first come, first served, and we've done the last few releases that way," said a Gale Ranch representative. "They get to know each other, get friendly with each other get to establish their own neighborhood ahead of time. It's pretty neat."
Although other neighboring developments use a lottery system for the in-demanding housing, developer Shapell decided to forgo the often lengthy process. Although the same representative said he had seen long lines wrapping around Bollinger Canyon Road in years past, this stiff competition for homes is unlike anything since 2007 or 2008.
San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson, a realtor with Golden Hills Brokers, said there are multiple reasons for such fierce competition, the first being low interest rates, making the purchase of a home cheaper than renting. Clarkson also cited shrinking inventory as a driver.
"We used to have 250 homes on market in San Ramon, today we have 69," Clarkson said.
In addition to high rent prices, a reduction in housing and low interest rates, families are drawn to the area because of its good school district and reputation for being family friendly. Although demographers underestimated the kid population in San Ramon by about 20-25 percent, the city's services and Gale Ranch's proximity to parks and schools is enticing to prospective buyers, Clarkson added.
"The difficulty is there is a lot of people that want to move here because of the schools and they already have friends, family and coworkers that live here, that creates the demand," said the Gale Ranch representative, who wished to remain anonymous.
The nine homes for sale in the Solaris development should be completed in January.