Real Estate News San Lorenzo Valley Santa Cruz MountainsColumns Real Estate 

Real Estate: Moving into Recovery

Market Review: 3rd Quarter 2020

By M.C. Dwyer


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Average home prices rose again across our region during the third quarter (July 1st to September 30th). Several communities recorded all-time highs, including Boulder Creek, Felton, and the City of Santa Cruz. There simply aren’t enough homes for sale compared to the number of people who want to buy. Fueled by historically low interest rates, the number of home sales rose too. This is a nationwide trend. 

As we move into the recovery process after the fires, changes in the real estate market are noticeable. Since about 1,000 families tragically lost their homes, demand for rentals rose.  Although many hoped they could live on their property in an RV or trailer during rebuilding, that’s prohibited until the property is cleaned of post-fire toxins. The supply of homes for sale continued to decline; it was already very low all summer. “Days on market”–how long a home is for sale on the MLS until it goes into contract–began to shorten again last month. A few homes close to the fires have been listed for sale, but for the most part people want to stay. Some are choosing to buy another home with their insurance money, while waiting for their home to be rebuilt; current estimates are that rebuilding could take three years. The anguish and hardship these survivors are going through can be overwhelming. Notice I use the word “survivors.” When I was going through cancer a few years ago, I really didn’t like being referred to or feeling like a cancer “victim.” The phrase cancer “survivor” felt so much more empowering.      

My husband is among those choosing to rebuild. We met with his insurance adjusters at the property just weeks after the fire. While countless hundred-year-old trees were damaged or destroyed, to my amazement, fresh green grasses were already emerging from the dry and blackened earth: a reminder of the resilience of nature, and a symbol of hope. The first phase of cleanup is being handled by the EPA. They are rapidly processing properties, but it seems that so far, they are just flagging hazardous materials. Ultimately, FEMA will only remove the most toxic materials. The rest of the fire clean-up process will be overseen by Santa Cruz County. While property owners can pay for private cleanup, to try to expedite the process before the rainy season arrives, the County does not yet have a disposal site, and there’s no guarantee the County will approve the work done by private contractors. Some insurance, like ours, doesn’t supply any coverage for cleanup, others don’t supply enough insurance to hire a private contractor. But FEMA just extended the time you can apply for aid for one more month. Refer to this website for updates:

It’s so inspiring to see our community rally to support our neighbors with fundraisers, free meals, resources for recovering remnants of treasures from the ashes, and workshops to help people understand the insurance, cleanup, and rebuilding processes. It’s uplifting driving along Highway 9 and seeing all the home-made signs of gratitude. Thanks go out to all who worked to keep our neighborhoods safe while we were evacuated. 

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“M.C.” Dwyer, MBA, REALTOR®   CA DRE License 01468388

With Century 21 Showcase REALTORs® since 2005

E-mail:  (831) 419-9759  

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