Low supply versus high demand, coupled with low interest rates, has continued to push home prices up locally. But more than 1,600 homes in the City of Tehachapi’s development pipeline may help relieve some of that pressure.

Recent presentations at meetings of the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council, East Kern Economic Alliance, and Tehachapi City Council yielded promising information for people who hope to make Tehachapi their home — or move to a different home within the community.

Hot market

Stacey Peel, president of the Tehachapi Area Association of Realtors, shared market statistics at the September GTEDC meeting.

Peel compared local residential real estate activity for the first eight months of 2021 to the same period of 2020. During January through August of 2021, the median priced home in the Greater Tehachapi Area was $375,000 compared to $315,000 in 2020. That’s about a 19 percent increase.

But more astounding is the increase from the median listing price in January 2021 ($332,000) to that of August 2021 ($482,000) — a 45 percent increase.

Although those numbers — and quick sales — are good for sellers and people in the real estate business, there’s a downside, Peel said. As someone who grew up in Tehachapi, she said it “makes my heart hurt” to see prices increase beyond what many locals can afford.

“We need more inventory,” she said. More housing — and especially a diversity of housing types — should allow a healthier turnover. She said older homeowners would then be able to sell larger homes they no longer need and move to smaller homes in Tehachapi. And people who are in starter homes would be able to sell and move up within the same community.

The hot housing market makes it harder for people to manage such change because typically contingency offers are needed, meaning that sellers must agree to accept a purchase offer contingent on the buyer selling their current home — or vice versa.

But with so much pressure from newcomers with cash, it is harder to make such deals and sometimes harder to buy with FHA or VA loans.

More inventory should help, Peel said.

New homes

Although there has been some new home construction in Golden Hills, Stallion Springs, Bear Valley Springs and other unincorporated areas, there has been little building in the city of Tehachapi in recent years. At the Sept. 7 meeting of the City Council, Development Services Director Jay Schlosser said only about 50 new homes have been built within the last 10 years.

However, that’s about to change. Not only has the city approved the Sage Ranch planned development, but a number of long dormant previous subdivisions are seeing activity.

At an EKEA meeting on Sept. 9, Tehachapi’s Economic Development Coordinator Corey Costelloe said just under 700 new homes are being planned in addition to those in the Sage Ranch planned development. Costelloe said this includes 250 lots in Alta Estates and other parcels in previously approved subdivisions.

Sage Ranch, as previously reported, is expected to bring 995 residential units in six phases to be built over seven years. In addition to single-family homes, the project includes apartments, townhomes and cottages — some targeted to senior citizens.

The developer needs to provide water rights and meet other city conditions before construction can begin. But Costelloe said some other projects are expected to be underway soon.

K Hovnanian homes

Corona-based K Hovnanian plans to build in the Alta Estates subdivision located on the southern edge of the city north of Highline Road and west of Curry Street.

Alta Estates was approved in 2003 and a number of homes were built there prior to the economic crash of 2007- 2008. But the bankruptcy of the original developer left some homes and much infrastructure unfinished. Eventually the city completed roads, sidewalks and storm drains using funds from a settlement with the developer. Still, a relatively small number of homes have been built there since 2012.

K Hovnanian’s proposal before the Tehachapi Planning Commission this week is for architectural review for 12 plans to be built on 55 lots owned by TLK Group, LLC, of Laguna Niguel. Architectural styles would be hacienda, farmhouse and Spanish, with sizes ranging from 1,927 to 2,401 square feet.

The Commission was to review the designs at its meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Wells Education Center, 300 S. Robinson St., Tehachapi. This meeting took place after the deadline for this edition.

Efforts to reach the builder before deadline were unsuccessful.

Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: claudia@claudiaelliott.net.