Former CA Bust Towns are Now Boom Towns

Many California towns that took center stage during the housing bust are making a vigorous comeback, topping the charts when it comes to median days on the market in California and earning spots in’s “Hotness Index.” released its August “Hotness Index,” ranking metro areas on how many days a listing in that area stays on the market, as well as how many web page views it receives.

Studding August’s top ten are names familiar from the housing bubble and the municipal distress that resulted when it burst: Vallejo and Stockton, two California cities that filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, as well as Modesto, Sacramento, and Fresno, which had hard times of their own.


A decade ago, California’s “Central Valley” was the epitome of “drive until you qualify,” a run-up of demand for housing at the outermost point from a job hub where homes become affordable.

Real estate markets there are benefiting once again from the booming job market in San Francisco and San Jose, where prices are notching new record highs. Prices in Vallejo, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento and Modesto sank by about two-thirds, nearly double the national average, and are still well below the peaks they set during the bubble.

But the hard-luck cases swelled, and then burst, because of overbuilding, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for “We were building homes that if not for speculation, no one would occupy.”

In fact, Smoke said, “We have the opposite problem now.” Housing starts rose to the second-highest rate since the recession in July,

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