Santa Cruz MountainsColumn: MC Dwyer Columns Real Estate 

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By M.C. Dwyer

In Santa Cruz County, over 130 homes sold in December. Home prices rose about 20% compared to 2019, reflecting high demand from home buyers. Home buyers with jobs that survived the Covid-19 economy are anxious to take advantage of incredibly low interest rates—often less than 3%—to move into homes that suit them better now that many employees won’t have to commute as much.   

We lost about 1,000 homes due to the fires: rebuilding will be more expensive than many people were insured for. Sadly, many people found out they were significantly underinsured and may have to tap other sources of money to rebuild. Call your agent for a home insurance review soon.     

In the chart below, you can see that homes sold faster this year than last. The limited number of homes for sale has been a problem for years and continues to drive home price appreciation. In the San Lorenzo Valley, it looks like home prices fell this December, but actually there was an anomaly: only two homes sold above one million dollars in December, 2020 compared to four last year. Figures below were calculated on 12/24/20,  whereas 2019 covered a full 31 days. Knowing small groups yield less statistical accuracy than large groups, I prefer to look at three-month (quarterly) trends for our micro-markets. I’ve no reason to think that the San Lorenzo Valley or Scotts Valley are “under-performing” county, regional, or state trends.

Single Family HomesDecember ’20 Average Price % Change Year Over Year# SoldDays on MarketDecember ’19 Average Price # SoldDays on Market
San Lorenzo Valley $714,568 -2.4%3223$732,318 2452
Scotts Valley$1,119,250 3.8%1025$1,078,500 1778
Santa Cruz County$1,245,823 19.9%13328$1,039,389 15569
Santa Clara County$1,689,751 13.2%73119$1,493,184 71837

In the next chart, November single-family-home sales prices rose by nearly 20% across the state. The Central Coast combines Santa Cruz County with Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties. The San Francisco Bay Area includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma counties.

California’s Association of Realtors Published Median Home Prices: Latest Data Available Is for November
State/Region/CountyMedian Price November ‘20 Median Price November ‘19 Price Year to Year % Chg# of Sales Year to Year % Change
CA Single-family Homes (SFH)$699,000 $589,770 18.5%26.3%
CA Condo/Townhomes$520,000 $485,110 7.2%30.0%
Central Coast SFH$825,000$695,00018.7%33.4%
S.F. Bay Area SFH$1,100,000$925,00018.9%34.4%

The passage of Proposition 19 may have far-ranging impact when it takes effect next year. Survivors of fires and other natural disasters have more choices: they can either use their insurance proceeds to rebuild, or, if they had no mortgage, can qualify for a purchase loan; or they can sell what’s left of their property and use their insurance money to buy elsewhere in California while keeping their current property tax basis. Seniors over 55 and the disabled also may take advantage of this “property tax portability.” Before Prop 19 passed, it was really hard for seniors to move outside their county while keeping their current property tax basis. Many people couldn’t downsize their home, unless they stayed within their county, without triggering new and higher property taxes based on the new purchase price. This new law may also help moving closer to family more affordable. It’s possible that the number of home sales may rise over time across the state.

My husband and I are hanging tough! He’s an optimist and is glad to redesign his home a little bigger and a lot better. It’s warmed my heart to see new signs cropping up along the Highway 9 corridor with words of encouragement and sympathy for our community’s fire survivors.

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“M.C.” Dwyer, MBA, REALTOR®   CA DRE License 01468388. With Century 21 Showcase REALTORs® since 2005. E-mail:  

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