If you bought a house five years ago when prices in Fresno were at their peak, chances are it's now worth less than half of what you paid for it.
But the effects of the housing boom and subsequent collapse have landed unevenly across the Fresno-Clovis metro area, hitting harder in the areas favored by first-time homebuyers: older, core neighborhoods and newer-growth areas on the fringes of Fresno.
In parts of central and southeast Fresno, for instance, the median home price has fallen between 68% and 75%.
Those who bought in neighborhoods closer to downtown Fresno were new to the market, getting in at the high end of what they could afford, said Patrick Prince, a Fresno real estate agent and 2012 chairman of the Fresno Multiple Listing Service.
"They were buying just to get into homeownership," Prince said, "and everyone was telling them this is a great boom, you should get in, and in two years you can have equity and sell to a better home."
They put little down and received creative lending packages, Prince said.
They also were the first to abandon their homes, leaving behind vacant and deteriorating houses that pulled values down even further, Prince said.
Conversely, buyers in areas generally north of Shaw Avenue were more established, took out traditional loans and had the intention of staying in their homes for 20 years or longer, Prince said.
The relative drop in value hasn't been as severe there -- 41% in northeast Fresno and 49% in some parts of Clovis, for instance.
The metro area's biggest percentage drops were in the 93702 and 93706 ZIP codes, which cover southeast and southwest Fresno -- 75% and 71%, respectively, according to data from the Fresno Association of Realtors.
Other areas felt the housing collapse in a different way.
In the areas that saw enormous growth during the boom -- such as new-home developments west of Highway 99 and in southeast Fresno -- there were a large number of foreclosures, despite smaller percentage drops in home values.
An example is the 93722 ZIP code, which covers part of northwest Fresno and new neighborhoods west of Highway 99. There, the median home price has fallen 52% from 2006.
But in one neighborhood, nearly half the houses have gone through foreclosure or were sold by desperate homeowners for less than what they owed, according to property tax records and the Fresno Multiple Listing Service.
The decline varies by neighborhood and location. In southeast Fresno, values fell by 47% in the 93727 and 93737 ZIP codes. In 93725, also in southeast Fresno, values fell 59%.
Northeast Fresno is in better condition, with prices falling 41% in the 93720 and 93730 ZIP codes.
Buyers in areas such as the Friant and Copper River neighborhoods were often move-up buyers with large down payments who planned to stay there for a while, so those areas didn't see the problems that occurred in other neighborhoods, Prince said.
The median home price in Fig Garden and Clovis was slashed in half, but real estate agents say those areas were able to hold values better than others, too.
These are more desirable neighborhoods where generations of families buy houses and the people seem to be more invested in their homes because of the schools, said Travis Takeuchi, real estate agent with Century 21 M&M in Clovis.
The median home price in the 93704 ZIP code, which includes Fig Garden, fell 56% while the 93612 and 93611 ZIP codes in Clovis saw a 56% and 49% decline, respectively.
"The relocation out of Clovis happens a lot less than other areas," Takeuchi said.
When home prices started to climb in 2005, newlyweds James and Kim Collier decided they should buy before prices got so high they couldn't afford it.
The Colliers wanted to buy a house in the Tower District, but a $250,000 two-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot house that still needed some work was already as expensive as having one built.
So the couple bought a new three-bedroom, 1,860-square-foot Granville home for $341,000 in southeast Fresno. They qualified for what James Collier now calls a "risky" loan: no down payment, 100% financed with two mortgage loans -- the first at an interest rate of 6.3% and the second at 9.25% -- and a balloon payment that matures after 15 years.
"We wouldn't have been able to buy in any other situation," said James Collier, owner of Paprika Studios, a Fresno marketing and communications company.
They planned to live in the home for five years, then sell. But in the past six years, the house has lost 53% of its original value. It is now assessed at $160,000, James Collier said.
"You buy something as an investment and so you can have ownership," he said. "Now, I'm over the idea that the American dream includes homeownership, because I don't feel like I own anything of value. It would cost me to try and sell it."
Home prices: 2006 vs. 2011
||2nd Q 2006
||2nd Q 2011
|Median home price