Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Los Gatos Mountains & San Lorenzo Valley home prices
AFFORDABLE HOMES NEAR THE SILICON VALLEY:
Average single family home prices continue to range between $1 to $1.5 million across Santa Cruz County and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Many people who work in the Silicon Valley are delighted to discover affordable housing in the San Lorenzo Valley – within 45 minutes to an hour’s commute to major employers like Apple, Alphabet (Google), Facebook, etc… The San Lorenzo Valley offers a more relaxed, rural lifestyle at about half the price of neighboring Scotts Valley, which combines the conveniences of a small city with a sense of community. Santa Cruz home prices have been stable at about $1.1 million, where residents can enjoy legendary parks and beaches, plus a variety of shopping and restaurants, night life and amenities available in a city of about 60,000 residents.
San Lorenzo Valley sales prices softened a bit in the 3rd quarter, as the number of homes listed for sale increased. The number of home sales rose as well, while buyers who’d faced stiff competition in the past found it easier to win the bidding process without necessarily having to offer much over asking price. On average, homes sold for 100% of list price.
Scotts Valley home prices fell slightly from the 2nd quarter, but remained up over 9% compared to the same period last year, while the number of sales held steady.
Los Gatos mountains region had a measurably lower average price in the 3rd quarter, but it was due to an anomaly: just 11 homes sold for over $1 million and the highest price was $1.7 million. 3 homes sold for less than $500,000 (one with a code violation, one a contractor special, and one quite remote and off the grid). During the 2nd quarter, this region experienced a more typical 26 homes selling in excess of $1 million; 2 were over $2 million.
Santa Cruz – the city – saw home price appreciation of 2.4% during the 3rd quarter compared to the 2nd quarter, as the number of homes sold declined by over 10%. Prices were just 1.7% lower than this time last year.
Santa Cruz County as a whole saw single family home prices easing about 5% compared to the 2nd quarter, but prices were flat compared to a year ago. The number of home sold rose about 6% over the 2nd quarter but was level with the number sold last year.
Santa Clara County experienced a combination of price easing and slower sales overall, after many years of rapid appreciation. Average prices rolled back to the average reached in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
Days on market – on average across Santa Cruz County, it takes 4 to 5½ weeks for a home to go into escrow with a buyer now, continuing a trend that’s been increasing several days each quarter.
California’s August statewide results according to the California Association of REALTORS: median home price rose 1.5% to $617,410 when compared to July’s median of $607,990. This was up 3.6% compared to the August 2018 median of $595,920.
CoreLogic reported July’s overall mortgage delinquencies remain at their lowest rate in 20 years nationally. Many experts believe stricter mortgage guidelines and higher down payments over the past decade will prevent a real estate crisis when the next economic downturn occurs. Just four states experienced increased delinquencies: Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and Minnesota.
Mortgage interest rates – after a brief increase in interest rates earlier this year, recently the 30 year mortgage rate dipped to 3.63%, even lower than last quarter’s 3.99%. These rates are historically incredibly low and appealing to home buyers. Many homeowners can benefit from refinancing now – consult your loan professional, or reach out to me if you need references to excellent local lenders.
As you look at the price chart, remember some of these micro markets (like Brookdale) have so few home sales, that percentage changes aren’t statistically significant and average prices can be dramatically skewed when one of the few sales exceed a million dollars. It’s more useful to look at the San Lorenzo Valley as a whole.
These charts illustrate housing inventory over the past three years. Around six months of housing inventory is considered a market that is balanced between buyers and sellers. These graphs show that both regions continue to experience an inventory shortage of just two to three months of inventory. That means, at the current rate of sales, we’d run out of homes for sale in just two to three months.
At the time of this writing, San Lorenzo Valley has 86 single family homes for sale (vs 84 last quarter), compared to 80 at this time last year. Scotts Valley has 39 (vs 51 last quarter), compared to 32 homes for sale at this time last year. Santa Cruz, despite having four times the population of Scotts Valley, has 63 homes for sale (vs 72 last quarter), compared to 68 at this time last year.
Economic growth as measured by GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was 2.1% during the 2nd quarter, (3.1% during the 1st quarter of 2019, and 2.2% in the 4th quarter of 2018). Consumer price increases (a measure of inflation – something the Federal Reserve monitors closely) was 1.7% in August (1.8% in May 1.5% in January and considerably lower than 2.9% in July 2018). The unemployment rate remains steady at 3.6% (3.7% nationwide in January). Wages grew at a 4% rate during June (versus 3% in May and 4.5% during this period last year).
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY’S APPEAL:
Photo Credit: John Urwin
People from the Silicon Valley are enchanted to discover Santa Cruz County’s appeal. We have dozens of parks for hiking, mountain biking, climbing, horse-back riding, swimming, skateboarding and surfing. There are dozens of beaches, from popular to serene, walk-in to hike-in, as well as dog-friendly Lighthouse Field State Beach. The Santa Cruz lifestyle is informal: we cherish our slower pace. With 1/3 the population density of Santa Clara County, there’s more room to spread out in Santa Cruz County, and consequently lower stress and crime rates. (Just 440 people/square mile live here, compared to 1400 people/square mile living in Santa Clara County.) Most homes have high speed internet, and increasingly, companies are allowing employees to work from home at least part of the time. Many people say they enjoy driving through the mountains to work, versus sitting in traffic and spending a lot more money to live in Santa Clara County.
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REAL ESTATE MARKETS ARE LOCAL:
The advice of a knowledgeable local REALTOR®, who can intelligently discuss neighborhoods and price trends, is invaluable. Hire a REALTOR® you can trust, who has enough time to dedicate to you! I will help you untangle the maze of decisions, preparations, negotiations, inspections, title and disclosures as you buy or sell your home. Relocating? – I can also connect you to a trust-worthy REALTOR® wherever you’re going. My goal is to make the entire process easier to understand, less stressful, and as cost effective as possible for you.
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Sources: MLSListings.com, Reuters, California Association of REALTORs, REALTOR.org, ActiveRain.com, Mercury News, CoreLogic, FreddieMac, MortgageNewsDaily.com, Google. Month to month home sales prices fluctuate widely in small communities and cities, especially when property sales range between million dollar estates and fixer upper properties. Because of this, percentage and average price changes often aren’t statistically meaningful for short time intervals. *All stats as of October 8, 2019: MLSListings.com single family residences.