Editor’s note: The following is from a Times interview with David Putonen, a Realtor for Concierge Real Estate Services in Merced
The Merced office of Concierge Real Estate Services held a grand opening on Sept. 25, 2019, which was a celebration of its second location at 3558 G Street, in the Raley’s shopping center.
The office deals in fine homes, ranches and estates, and serves the Central Valley, agriculture, UC Merced and Merced College communities.
Concierge is still operating from its main place of business, which can be found at 4989 Highway 140, in Mariposa.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on the real estate market?
According to Putonen, forecasters in the real estate market statewide say that COVID-19 and the resulting turn in the economy most likely will not have much of an effect on the real estate market, statewide.
He explained, “The impact of COVID will certainly be nothing like it was in the last recession when there were bad loans. The people who are still working and have money and are able to get money are still able to buy. The bad loans which caused all the problems during the last recession are all gone.”
How has business been in the Merced office for the past 11 months?
Putonen told the Times, “Business for Concierge in Merced has been through the roof. We have been busy almost since Day 1 of opening up.
“We have been actively recruiting new agents, and we have two scheduled to take their exams and join us, and we’re always looking for new agents.
“My broker, Kori Smith, has implemented a marketing plan with a very extensive advertising and sales generation lead program for all her agents. This program constantly provides us with leads for sellers and buyers alike for the Mariposa/ Merced area, and all surrounding counties, extending even to Northern California.
“We at Concierge have never been so busy.
“We have a very large share of people who are local looking to get started owning their own home for the first time, as well as people looking to move out of the area.
“There are also a lot of people looking to move into rural areas like Merced and Mariposa from the Bay Area, Southern California and a lot of urban areas.
“People want to get out of the big cities where the virus is more likely to be passed, and they are selling their homes in the Bay Area for a lot of money and paying cash for a home that’s cheaper where they’ll be living in a much safer area from COVID, earthquakes, floods and fire. With UC Merced here, this is a prime area for people to move to.
“People from out of town like San Jose are coming here and paying cash over asking price for homes.
“Since COVID-19 hit, there are also urban residents looking to move to a rural area where they can live while they work from home, and when the pandemic clears up, they can return to the city and use it for a rental home.
It’s a seller’s market
“Inventory in Mariposa County is low, so if you want to sell your home in Mariposa County right now you can sell it easily.
“It is a seller’s market right now so if anyone has been thinking of selling, they can get top dollar, and it’s coupled with mortgage rates being at a historic low.
“If you’ve ever thought of selling or buying a home in Merced County, now is the time because the rate is going to stay the same but the price is going to keep going up.
“The only downfall from a local’s perspective that kind of makes me feel sad is that investors from out of the area are coming over and scooping up homes at over asking price and paying cash, so local residents looking to get started are sometimes losing out on homes they want. But I will ultimately always put them in the home of their dreams.”
Describing his personal style as a realtor, Putonen said, “I love this company. I’ll never leave because Kori Smith is one of the top brokers in the area, and she makes it a great working atmosphere where we also have a lot of fun. She gives us leeway and freedom to do our jobs, and that makes it really good for us to produce. The energy and positivity that we have as a team rubs off on the clients, and it’s almost like they sense the vibe and feel the genuineness and the honesty. We develop a rapport with our clients and many times, we end up making friendships.”