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Posh digs projected to nearly double in a decade
Mark ark and Amie Ferry started saving to buy a house in south San Jose five years ago, but the Bay Area's red-hot real estate market kept working against them. "Two years passed, but the dollar goal itself had started to rise," Mark Ferry says. "Then three years had gone by and prices had almost doubled."
Last year, while considering whether to buy a small, two-bedroom condominium in the Bay Area for $350,000, they happened to spend a weekend with a friend in El Dorado Hills.
"We looked around," he recalls, "and our jaws just hit the floor."
Within months, the young couple moved to the foothill community. There they bought a new, five-bedroom Pulte home in Rolling Hills Estates for the same amount of money they would have spent on the condo. "It was a no-brainer," Mark says.
The Ferrys are among hundreds of Bay Area emigres helping to fuel the new-home market in El Dorado Hills, among the Sacramento region's residential construction hot spots.
"El Dorado Hills is becoming the Alamo and Danville of Sacramento," says John Schleimer, president of Market Perspectives, a firm that analyzes the new-home market. "It's a very upscale production and custom-home market. It's attracting a tremendous number of Bay Area refugees who can buy twice as much house here as they can in the Bay Area."
An area that 25 years ago was a speck on the map, and not yet a gleam in the eye of developers, now houses 15 percent of the county's population, up from 10 percent a decade ago. El Dorado Hills' population nearly doubled since 1990 and is projected to more than double in the next decade.
However, such continuing growth just a few. thousand feet eastof the Sacramento County line hinges on resolving at least two key issues.
First, there is the historical bane of El Dorado County, lack of water. (See story on Page 22.) And then there's the usual modem bugaboo, car traffic.
The new residents: Bay Area buyers, attracted by housing prices as well as the foothill landscape, include, entrepreneurs who move their businesses here, retirees rich with equity, professionals who telecommute to Bay Area jobs, and others who quit their jobs and find new ones here, says Greg Paquin of The Gregory Group, another new-home market analyst.
After Mark and Amie Ferry moved to El Dorado Hills, Mark's parents soon followed. They sold their 2,300-square-foot house in San Jose for $810,000 and bought a larger custom home in Serrano for $550,000, Mark says.
El Dorado Hills is also attracting high-tech workers at nearby Intel Corp., and Sacramento residents moving up to bigger and more expensive homes.
El Dorado Hills' population, now at about 20,000, will rise to 41,000 in 10 years, according to the Sacramento Area Council of Government's projections. Total housing units, at a smidgen less than 3,809 in 1990 and now at about 7,400, are projected to grow to more than 10,000 in five years and to more than 14,000 in 2010.
SACOG pegged the 1990 population of El Dorado Hills at 10,568, and the county population at 102,600. El Dorado County's' 2000 population of 129,900 means that more than a third of the 10-year county population increase is in El Dorado Hills.
Rapid growth years ago spurred a nascent move toward …