The West Side housing market is tipping in the favor of sellers, with low inventory and appreciating prices the hallmark of recent months.

Homes on the market that are well-priced and in prime condition are being snapped up quickly by buyers, local real estate agents recently reported, and in some cases sellers are able to choose from competing offers.

At the same time, they suggested, the market is not a frenzied free-for-all, as buyers are showing an awareness of value and a propensity to stay within their comfort zone rather than over-reaching financially.

Homes listed for less than $200,000 are few and far between, agents recently told Mattos Newspapers, while the number of homes on the market with asking prices exceeding $300,000 is growing.

The market is brisk for homes in the $200,000-$230,000 price range, several said, while sellers start to meet some price resistance above $250,000.

The average prices of homes sold in March were $230,000 in Newman and $202,000 in Gustine, according to statistics provided by Jared Amaral, an agent with Stephens & Borrelli in Newman.

Few properties languish on the market, particularly if the price is right.

“If they are priced correctly, they will usually be gone in 10 days, 15 max,” said Nick Vander Poel, an agent at Valley Real Estate Sales in Gustine. “Some (sellers) are pushing at a higher edge, and those homes are going to sit longer. It is tough for people to qualify at $300,000, or even $280,000.”

Tight inventory is one factor in the equation.

Jose Rodriguez, an agent with the Newman office of Allison James Estates and Homes, said that at one point in March the Newman market had only about 10

days of inventory.

“In November of last year, we had five months of inventory,” he noted.

The tight inventory could be changing, though, as Vander Poel and Rodriguez each noted that a number of homes have recently come onto the market.

“Last week, eight properties came onto the market the same day,” Rodriguez told Mattos Newspapers in late April. “There are people starting to sell again, mostly investors.”

That is a significant increase, given the small number of homes on the market.

Even with an influx of five new listings, Vander Poel told Mattos Newspapers recently, a total of 19 homes were on the market in Gustine and Newman. Eight of those were listed for over $300,000.

JoAnna Lafler of Lafler Real Estate in Gustine said business has been brisk, with demand coming from a mix of prospective buyers.

“There are some Bay Area influences, but over 50 percent are people from within a local sphere,” she explained. “We might pick up some buyers from Turlock, for example, because prices there have gotten so high.”

There are some nuances to the local housing market, Lafler added.

Because the available housing inventory is so limited, she said, it is not uncommon for sellers to require that deals are contingent upon them finding a replacement property to move into.

“We are seeing quite a bit of that,” she commented. “It is one of the complexities of the market right now.”

Agents also said that buyers are better-educated, and have defined their own comfort zone.

Some buyers who are looking at a property as a long-term home may stretch their parameters if they find that perfect house, Rodriguez said, but many are cautious about over-extending themselves.

“Buyers are well-informed. They have checked out the housing market on the internet and they are pre-qualified by the time they come in,” he commented. “They know how much they are going to pay, and even if they are pre-qualified for more they will tell you that they can only afford so much.”

Amaral agreed.

“When we have first-time buyers, we have exactly that conversation with them,” he said of the importance of finding a financial comfort zone. “They figure out their price point and they shop for it, so that they are not in sticker shock when they get their first mortgage statement.”