Accountant Cindy Morris was No. 1 on “the list,” a distinction she earned by showing up to the house sale nearly 36 hours before it began.
She had company.
By the time the Gfeller Development Co. began offering 23 yet-to-be-built homes for sale last week, Morris and her boyfriend were joined by two dozen others looking to buy into Phillips Ranch, the city’s up-scale residential area.
“I was expecting it to be a bad experience,” said Morris, who lives in Ontario and works in San Dimas. “But it was fun getting to meet all (our) new neighbors before we move in.”
Elliot Light, Gfeller vice president for sales, acknowledged that the company was taken unawares by the response, given a stagnant housing market and the lack of advertising or model homes for display.
“We’re sort of surprised,” he said. “As interest rates go up, the market has slowed because people have trouble selling their old homes.”
Gfeller’s 175-home “Country Crossings” subdivision will complete home building in Phillips Ranch, one of the most successful planned communities in the San Gabriel Valley, Light said. That, he surmised, and the opportunity to buy a “moderately priced” home in the $250,000 to $340,000 range, brought the prospective buyers out.
Light said the company sold $6.7 million in real estate in five hours, “a record for Gfeller.” The next phase of 25 homes will go up for sale in April or May.
The company is now building the models for the tract. The homes bought Saturday will be completed by July.
To secure a shot at the homes, the prospective buyers armed themselves with sleeping bags, ice chests, lawn chairs and portable radios and televisions. A makeshift table outside the sales office held the list from which the future home buyers picked their lots.
As the wait wore on, George Ladwig was appointed keeper of the list, suggesting the ground rules by which it was used.
“There always has to be a warm body representing you,” he said in explanation of the process. "(Gfeller) said that they would honor first come, first served. That’s what we’ve doing.”
Ladwig, who lives in a smaller home in the area, said he was not worried about the interest rates climbing, figuring it was better to get in before they went higher.
“Everyone agrees it’s going to be a good investment,” he said. “Phillips Ranch is one of the hottest developments in the San Gabriel Valley.”
Debi, who declined to give her last name, said she skipped work for a chance at what she expects will be a lucrative buy. She had seen the adjoining South Wind development “appreciate overnight,” and decided the newer tract presented an equally good investment. Between construction of the different phases of South Wind, also built by Gfeller, home prices sometimes increased by $95,000, she said.
The buyers, most of whom came from surrounding communities of Walnut, Diamond Bar and San Bernardino County, held no apprehensions about moving to a city that most said is generally less affluent than where they now live.
When asked about moving to Pomona, for two years proclaimed the nation’s “most stressful city” in a national survey based on crime, population growth and other factors, accountant Morris responded: “This is not Pomona, this is Phillips Ranch.”