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Loch Lomond is Open in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Today, March 1st, marks opening day at Loch Lomond  

Lovely Loch Lomond is a pristine mountain lake located in the Lompico area of Felton – about half an hour from Santa Cruz.   (see directions below)

Image Anglers, hikers, and picnickers can enjoy this quiet reservoir –(no motor toys allowed) – plus some great weather this weekend!    If you’re a boater, know that this lake is part of the water supply system for Santa Cruz, so no outside boats are allowed to be brought in.   This is because the pipelines need to be kept clear of invasive species.   But you can rent a boat there, or contact the park rangers about leaving your own boat there.    Recreation Area staff can be contacted by calling 831-335-7424 for more information. A substantial boat rental fleet is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

From Santa Cruz, San Lorenzo Valley or Scotts Valley, take Graham Hill Road to Zayante Road.    Follow Zayante for a few miles, then take a left on Lompico Road.   After a few miles take a left on West and go up to the top of the mountain.    There are signs along the way.

Up at the top of West, I’m about to list a wonderful cabin with end-of-the-road privacy and a delightful separate studio/out building…within walking distance to the Lake!   Contact MC Dwyer for details…(831) 419-9759

Click here if you’d like help finding or selling your dream home near Santa Cruz

Call/text/e-mail me to post your upcoming events anywhere in the Santa CruzMountains

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San Lorenzo Valley Real Estate Prices – 2012 in review

San Lorenzo Valley Home Prices and Sales – 2012

The real estate market in the San Lorenzo Valley turned in a solid performance for 2012, with an average home sales price of $338,238, up 5% on average for the year.

SLV Home Prices

The key factor affecting home sales right now is a lack of inventory – the number of homes for sale is at an eight year low!    Yet, there are many buyers, including cash investors and first time buyers who want to lock in great interest rates.     The imbalance of supply and demand leads to competition, and that supports increasing prices.

A new home listing, priced properly and marketed well by your agent, is likely to get multiple offers, even over asking price.    There just aren’t enough homes on the market to match buyer demand.  Another measure of demand: Days on the market (before the house goes into escrow) is about 2-3 months, putting us solidly within what’s known as a sellers’ market.

SLV housing inventory 2012 by month

If you are contemplating putting your house on the market, there’s pent up demand right now!    Look at the typical upward swing in inventory during the summer months in the chart– is there really a reason to wait to list your property?    To find out what your San Lorenzo Valley home is worth now, click here

The Santa Cruz Mountains and San Lorenzo Valley are influenced by the hectic Silicon Valley and greater Bay Area markets which experienced rapid appreciation in the range of 20% during 2012.

Felton fields and clouds, photographed by John Urwin
Felton fields and clouds, photographed by John Urwin

With gas prices a bit lower lately, more working people are willing to make the 30-45 minute commute from the San Lorenzo Valley.   They feel it’s a great trade-off because they can come home to more affordable homes and a more relaxed lifestyle, with less crowding and more open spaces.  For the average price of $340k, buyers got a 3 bedroom, 1200 square foot home on lots averaging 1/4 acre or more!

Santa Cruz Mountains: Location, Location, Location!

Earlier this week I took the day off to enjoy a walk along Pleasure Point, dropping

Pleasure Point Egret
Pleasure Point Egret

occasionally down to the beach to look at the tide pools, then back up to street level where people were skateboarding and walking their dogs, enjoying the sunshine.   During dinner on the wharf in Santa Cruz, we watched the pelicans diving for fish, against the amazing backdrop of sunset and ocean.   Returning back home to the San Lorenzo Valley in the evening took less than half an hour, and I again felt so blessed to be living in such a diverse and gorgeous place.

Mortgage rates for a 30 year fixed loan continue to average well below 4%, allowing people to secure their future housing costs.   First time buyers are a big portion of the market, because renting costs just about the same as owning.   Investor buyers are a big factor as well, often defeating first time buyers in competition, because they are putting down a lot of cash – often buying homes with no loan at all.   Understanding the challenges involved in getting a loan, many sellers will choose a cash buyer if they have the option.   Buyers making a down payment of 3.5% or less may find themselves loosing in competition to buyers with a larger down payment, if the seller can choose amongst multiple offers.

2012 –year in review

299 homes sold in the San Lorenzo Valley – from Boulder Creek to the town of Felton (according to the Multiple Listing Service, areas 34-37).    The volume of sales is up about 16% this year compared to last, and the average sales price is up about 5% to $338,238.     (vs. $321,555 average price on 256 sales in 2011.)

In 2012, 46 homes sold for over $500,000, almost double the number in 2011, when just 26 homes had sold for over $500,000.

At the high end of the spectrum, two homes this year sold for $875,000 – one in a good Boulder Creek neighborhood and one in Felton – both were on acreage.

At the bottom end of the spectrum, 8 homes sold this year for less than $100,000 – all had serious deficiencies and would not qualify for a loan.

Distressed sales were still a big factor in the 2012 housing market in the Santa Cruz Mountains, particularly dominating the lower price range.  75 short sales and 76 foreclosures (REOs) caused about  50% of sales to be distressed properties.   It’s possible that there will be more short sales and fewer foreclosure sales in 2013.   This is in part because lenders have learned that unoccupied homes fall apart – loosing value quickly-  so they are seeing short sales as more advantageous.   For buyers, short sales are taking less time to get approved, so the risk is less than before.

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Felton Home Sales, Prices and 2011 Market Update

Felton Home Sales, Prices and 2011 Market Update

2011 –year in review

63 homes sold in Felton during 2011.   The average home price fell about 23% when compared to 2010.   The average home sales price was $328,643, taking an average of just over 3 months (101 days) on the market prior to going into escrow.    The discount between the list price and eventual sale price was 4% overall.

The highest priced home sold for $736,861 – this was a bank owned 5 bedroom, 3 bath home on 22+ acres.

The lowest priced home sold for $44,000 – it was a tiny, bank owned, burned down home on Highway 9.

Why did prices fall so dramatically?    In my opinion, the main reason is that the number of higher end homes – those selling for more than $500,000 – shrank from 14 in 2010 to only 5 in 2011.    On the other hand, in the affordable and fixer-upper home segment, 28 homes sold in 2011 for less than $300,000, nearly 3 times the number (just 10) that sold in that price range in 2010.

63% of all sales (40 houses) were distressed sales in 2011 –  homes that were either foreclosures or short sales.     All but 2 of the affordable segment were distressed sales – just two were normal, owner occupied sales.    This is in contrast to 2010, when 47% (28) were distressed residential transactions.

In conclusion, prices fell due to the mix of homes that actually sold as much as anything else.        Most buyer activity is either first time buyers or investors.

What I am seeing is that many people who might be trying to move up into a bigger home, or downsize into a smaller home, are waiting for the market to recover before they put their home on the market.    A few people are able to rent out their homes, and taking advantage of low interest rates to buy a second home that suits them better.

If you would like to find out what your home is worth now, click here

Felton Wall Mural
Wall Mural in Felton

2010 –year in review

In 2010, 60 homes sold in Felton.   The average home sales price was $427,195, taking an average of 80 days on the market prior to going into escrow.       The eventual sales price was an average discount of 2.2% off the list price.

The highest priced home sold for $795,000 – a lovely owner occupied 4 bedroom, 3 ½ bath home on about 3 ½ acres.

The lowest priced home sold for $97,000 – a small 1 bedroom, bank owned cabin.

Source: MLSListings.com, Single Family Dwellings

MC Dwyer, copyright 2012

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Trout will be planted in Loch Lomond, Spring 2012

Loch Lomond is in the Lompico neighborhood of Felton, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, CAToday’s Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that, to supplement the existing populations of bass and bluegill, about 1,000 pounds of trout will be planted in the Loch Lomond reservoir on two separate occasions this spring.     The Department of Fish and Game hasn’t planted trout here in several years.      The new trout are an enticement to  fishermen to return to the lake this summer and in the future.

Loch Lomond, located at the end of West Drive above and just beyond the Lompico area of Felton, is a gorgeous and quiet get-a-way.    Because the lake is part of Santa Cruz’ City water supply, outside boats and sports craft are not allowed on the lake – this is intended to reduce the introduction of invasive species that can clog water pipes.   The unintended result is a peaceful, natural feeling mountain lake located just 1/2 hour from downtown Santa Cruz and about 10 minutes from down town Felton.

There are trails for hiking, picnic areas, and rental boats available, as well as a enrollment system for people to quarantine and store their boats.     The lake is closed for the winter now, but reopens for a long summer season around Memorial Day, ending around Labor Day.

Share your fun plans and fond memories about Loch Lomond here!