Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Real Estate: Schuil and Associates celebrates 30 years

(Submitted photo. Mike, Marc and Rick Schuil of Schuil and Associates Real Estate in Visalia.)

Visalia real estate company, Schuil and Associates, is celebrating 30 years in business this month.

The company, run by three brothers, started in Dinuba in 1983 and over the years opened three other offices in Kingsburg, Reedley and Visalia. Back then, the business handled residential, commercial and agricultural property sales. Each brother — twins Mike and Marc and younger brother Rick — managed an office.

Then in 2007, the brothers decided it was time to consolidate locations. The company built a nearly 4,000-square-foot building on Mineral King Avenue and Akers Street in Visalia six years ago where the brothers and all employees reunited under the same roof.

What’s it like to work with family all these years?

“Obviously family businesses always offer challenges,” Rick Schuil said. “The fact that we consolidated rather than moving farther away (from each other) is a testament that we get along pretty darn well.”

The company made its name specializing in agricultural and dairy sales. It shed the residential portion of the business just before the economic downturn to concentrate on agricultural and commercial property.

“The economic downturn really affected residential sales,” Rick Schuil said. “We were proactive before that happened.”

While the residential market suffered, farmland prospered allowing the Schuils to remain stable in recent years.

“Agricultural sales and values have dramatically increased in the last five years so our timing was very good.”

Mariposa Grove and the pileated woodpecker

At the Mariposa Grove, a tourist pointed out something I had never seen in Yosemite National Park — a pileated woodpecker.  Bee photographer Craig Kohlruss snapped a picture of it.

We were in Yosemite to research a story about the Mariposa Grove, where about 500 mature giant sequoias live. The graceful scenes were everywhere, but the pileated woodpecker stole the show.

This is a big, eye-catching bird. It looked like the size of a crow — black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest.

The bird was pounding at the base of a white fir tree, making little pieces of wood fly. A few people stopped and took photos, but nothing distracted this woodpecker. Someone told me it was hunting for carpenter ants. I couldn’t really see what it was doing.

It has been a while since I had visited the Mariposa Grove, which is near the South Entrance and Highway 41. I’ll have to get back there again soon.

Real Estate: Habitat to build nine houses in southeast Fresno

(Submitted photo. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announces a $845,000 award to Habitat for Humanity Fresno County.)

Habitat for Humanity Fresno County will build nine new houses in southeast Fresno next year thanks to some help from the city of Fresno.

The nonprofit housing agency was awarded $845,000 from the city’s Home Investment Partnership Program for the project at Belgravia and Laval avenues, east of Chestnut Avenue.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin joined City Council member Sal Quintero and Habitat representatives for a news conference and official kick off on Tuesday morning.

The plan is to build three-, four- and five-bedroom houses that range in size from 1,300-square-feet to 1,600-square-feet.

Construction is expected to begin in March or early April.

Real Estate: Building permit requests up in Visalia

Single-family homebuilding may be on its way up in Visalia.

Homebuilders pulled more permits to build new houses in October than the month before, according to a city report released Friday.

Last month, builders pulled 57 permits compared to 26 in September. A year ago, only 17 permits were issued for the construction of new homes.

Fresno building permit numbers for October have not been released yet, but the September report shows 66 new home permits were issued that month. In August, builders pulled 111 permits.

Real Estate: Music group buys Bob Wills House from Granville

(Photo courtesy of Granville Homes. The Wills House ready for transport.)

The Central California Music Association has bought the Bob Wills house for $1 from Fresno homebuilder Granville Homes.

The group, a new nonprofit led by president Lance Tullis, plans to have the one-story wood-frame house moved from Clinton and Armstrong avenues in Fresno to a 20-acre property less than 15 miles away in Prather. The move is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 6.

“Bob Wills was a major contributor to western country music,” Tullis said. “We’d like to open (the house) up as a museum of country music in the foothills.”

Granville wanted to raze the house, which is falling apart and has problems such as bee infestation, asbestos and lead paint, to build a housing project in its place.

But the city’s Historic Preservation Commission intervened to preserve the home where Wills — the King of western swing — and his family lived in the 1940s.

Granville in turn offered to sell the house if the buyer moves it at no expense to the developer.

Tullis answered the call by forming the association and then starting a campaign called “Raise the Roof” to raise the $75,000 needed to move the house and restore it.

The first fundraiser was on Saturday, and attended by Wills’ daughter, Carolyn, Tullis said. For more information or to help, visit centralcalmusic.com.

Real Estate: M Street Arts Complex opening in downtown Fresno

A new artist venue is getting ready to open its doors in downtown Fresno.

The M Street Arts Complex, a collaboration between local artists and Fresno homebuider Darius Assemi of Granville, will have its grand opening on Saturday in conjunction with its first exhibition.

The complex was built in an old warehouse space on the corner of M and Tuolumne streets. Granville bought the property a few years ago with plans to convert it into commercial, retail and office space.

But the plans changed and an idea to create gallery space and artists studios with security and private parking took its place. The 10,000-square-foot complex has a large gallery, five galleries with attached private studios, three warehouse style spaces with roll up doors, and seven other studios. The curators are artists Christina Rea and Julia Woli Scott.

The grand opening will include a ribbon cutting at 3 p.m. followed by the unveiling of two public art installations. The exhibition, “Spectacle, A Closer Look at Fresno,” highlights the work of 13 artists. The event is free to the public.

San Joaquin River water releases will increase

This week, San Joaquin River water started pouring out of Friant Dam a little faster than it has been. It’s part of the experimental flows in the river restoration project.

For those who don’t follow the river closely, I’ll explain a little. Water releases from Friant have been going on for decades to supply land owners immediately downstream of the dam. It’s usually just a trickle.

This week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is ramping up to 1,050 cubic feet per second — about 2,000 acre-feet of water per day. Later this week, the release will be dropped to 700 cfs through Nov. 6. Then it will dip to 350 until the end of February.

The restoration project, which began four years ago, is supposed to reconnect the dried parts of the river with the Pacific Ocean. One goals in the project is to bring back runs of salmon that died off decades ago.

The releases over the next several days mimic nature by attracting migrating chinook salmon to move upstream for spawning, a bureau spokeswoman said. Biologists and other wildlife officials are studying the river’s reaction to the reintroduction of fish and flows.

Biologists have tagged and planted salmon in the river to follow their progress.

A big concern is seepage downstream beyond the Mendota Pool on the Valley’s west side. The flows have gotten into farm fields and caused damage, growers say.

Federal officials have installed underground water monitoring systems to detect when groundwater is rising in reaction to the extra flows.

Also local land owners have been alerted to call or email federal officials if they see seepage. Bureau leaders say they are prepared to reduce the flow if problems appear.

Real Estate: Lennar Homes will unveil new Next Gen floor plans in NW Fresno

(Submitted photo. Lennar’s Omnilliant Next Gen floor plan.)

Lennar Homes plans to unveil two new Next Generation home floor plans during the grand opening of its latest development in northwest Fresno this weekend.

The Next Gen home offers multi-generational families a private suite that includes a bedroom, kitchenette and full bathroom. The suite has a separate front entrance and one into the main house.

It was first introduced to the Fresno market in October 2011 to fit the changing demographics of buyers and has quickly become a best selling product for the national builder.

There are now five Next Gen floor plans. The two newest models include the 2,600-square-foot Omnilliant, a single-story, four bedroom, three bathroom, three-car garage home. The second is the Revelation, the first model to have a two-bedroom suite in a 3,404-square-foot, two-story home with three to four bedrooms, three ½ bathrooms and a three-car garage.

“There are so many uses for this concept,” said Susan Wilke, vice president of sales and marketing. “Grandma can have her own space. Or maybe it’s your teenagers abode when he starts college or returns from college.”

The plans are available at Elderberry on the Bluffs which celebrates its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Real Estate: Fresno County home prices inch up in September

The pace of Fresno County’s home price appreciation is slowing down, but the median home price of an existing single-family home still inched up higher in September compared to the month before, a monthly report said.

The median home price of a home in Fresno was $185,830 last month compared to $184,000 in August, the California Association of Realtors monthly housing report said.

In September 2012, the median home price was $159,130.

Madera and Tulare counties followed a similar trend with home prices increasing nearly 12% and 3.2% month-over-month respectively. Kings County, however, saw an 8.4% fall in home prices.

Real Estate: Investors make money flipping homes in Fresno

Real estate investors flipped more homes in the Fresno metropolitan area in the third quarter of this year compared to last year and made a sizable profit, according to a report released Thursday.

Investors bought, renovated and sold 182 homes in Fresno during the third quarter, a 47% increase from 124 properties at the same time last year, the quarterly home flipping report said.

RealtyTrac, an online housing data company, compiled the report showing a 13% drop nationally in home flipping, but an increase in the average gross profit of each home sold.

In Fresno, the average purchase price of a house was $141,908. Investors then renovated and sold the home for an average of $192,585 — a profit of $52,704, or 36%. That’s quite a jump from last year when investors made a profit of $29,977.

Nationally, home flips were down 13%. Investors made an average profit of $54,927 off each home — a 12% increase from last year.

As the inventory of cheap homes falls, investors are being driven to more high-end homes, which sell for $750,000 or more, allowing them to make a bigger profit, RealtyTrac said.

“Increasing home prices over the past 18 months combined with decreasing foreclosures have created a market less favorable to the high quantity of middle- to low-end bread-and-butter flips,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president.

“But the sharp rise in high-end flipping indicates there is still good money to be made for flippers willing and able to take on the additional risk of buying and rehabbing more expensive homes.”