No need to blink twice. Home builders are back in action.
A builder from Morgan Hill is building five model homes and starting construction on its first 12 houses for sale in Harlan Ranch, the master-planned community northeast of Clovis.
Benchmark Communities plans to build a 79-lot neighborhood called Vantage at Harlan Ranch. The builder also has a second parcel of land in the same community with 37 lots for future development.
Benchmark is the third builder to announce plans this summer for a new neighborhood in the Clovis area. The others are De Young Properties and McCaffrey Homes.
But it's not the first new significant construction in Harlan Ranch in recent years. Fresno builder Wilson Homes introduced a new line of houses in the community last year.
Increased demand for existing homes and a limited supply of homes for sale prompted Benchmark to jump into Harlan Ranch.
"I think it's a tough time to buy resale homes," said Dustin Bogue, president of Benchmark. "You're constantly competing with investors for short sales or REO (bank-owned) product."
The Vantage houses will range in size from 2,100 to 3,300 square feet and will have backyards. The houses will start in the low $300,000s. Harlan Ranch currently offers small lots with no room for a yard or pricey custom homes, Bogue said.
Benchmark is not new to the Clovis market. The builder finished construction of the existing but partially finished houses in the Patriot Homes development at Shaw and Locan avenues early last year. Patriot Homes filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Benchmark has been buying lots in the Fresno and Clovis area for the last four years and now owns more than 2,000 lots. The Vantage is the first of up to six new communities Benchmark has planned for the area.
Neighborhood corp. builds first house
While Benchmark embarks on a plan to bring new homes to the Clovis market, a neighborhood development corporation is taking small steps in Fresno with its first new home project.
The Lowell Community Development Corporation started building a 1,248-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house at 415 N. Calaveras Ave. last month.
The corporation bought the property, which has been vacant since a house was razed after a fire about 25 years ago, said Phil Skei, the corporation's chairman. The goal is to find a low-income family who will be a first-time homeowner to buy the home, Skei said.
This project is "part of our push for homeownership in the community by utilizing existing housing stock as well as doing infill projects that contribute to the character of the neighborhood," Skei said.
The corporation has rehabilitated two houses in the neighborhood and is starting its third home renovation.
Anyone interested in applying for the Calaveras house can call Skei at (559) 492-7889, ext. 706.