Originally posted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel
By Jondi Gumz
SANTA CRUZ >> Home sales in Santa Cruz County sizzled in June with 221 properties changing hands, the most in two years, including a storybook four-bedroom gated estate on Capitola’s Depot Hill fetching $4.85 million, landing the median at $725,000.
Very strong demand, strong second home market, and very low inventory is how Bryan MacKenzie, an agent with Coldwell Banker describes it.
He helped Christopher Bently, a newlywed, organic rancher, biodiesel entrepreneur and Burning Man supporter, find a one-of-a-kind home in Capitola.
Homes selling for more than $1 million comprised 19 percent of sales, down from 22 percent in May and 20 percent in April, according to Gary Gangnes of Real Options Realty, who tracks the numbers.
As of the first week of July, there were 522 listings, down from 625 a year ago, according to Gangnes.
Only 386 were active listings, with those priced at more than $1 million comprising 44 percent of what’s available, he noted.
That figure has been rising, from 37 percent in April, then 41 percent in May, as new high-end transactions become comparable sales for future sellers.
Cash buyers made up 19 percent of sales in June, down from 29 percent in April and 26 percent in May, according to statistics from CoreLogic.
Still, a savvy first-time homebuyer got his foot in the door.
Debbie Calhoun of David Lyng Real Estate tells how her client, a 25-year-old in construction management, tired of high rent snagged a three-bedroom home at 16 Siri Lane, Scotts Valley, one of eight houses in the subdivision, for $725,000.
“He was a saver,” she said.
Her client persuaded the developer his asking price of $749,000 was too high.
“Younger buyers are getting approved for more, but they’re not willing to be house-poor,” Calhoun said.
The Siri Lane project was approved in 2009 during the recession but not completed until this year.
“We don’t see new developments,” said Calhoun, noting land is scarce.
People are renovating to attract buyers.
McKenzie said the seller of 223 Second Ave., a two-bedroom bungalow in the Seabright area, invested in a total remodel, asking $899,000. Two weeks ago, it sold for $1.2 million.
“It goes to show how design and presentation drives the price,” McKenzie said.
That’s the approach Sean Haghi of Elements Real Estate is taking.
A developer from El Segundo, he orchestrated a total makeover of a triplex at 1130 Seabright Ave., his first project in Santa Cruz County, taking 11 months to create three hip and open two-bedroom units with outdoor courtyards for a barbecue.
The designer, his brother Armin, gave each an ultramodern look, strategically using red, orange and magenta, LED lights that change color, and furnishings like a white leather sofa.
“It’s cool to see something like this,” Celeste Faraola Perie of Schooner Realty said at the open house. “I love that red wall.”
Asking price is $2 million.
San Jose contractor Kelley Nichols aims to transform a 108-year-old two-bedroom cottage off West Cliff Drive and in sight of Mitchell’s Cove, a popular beach for dog walkers.
Will the strong demand last? Calhoun thinks it’s “calmer” now than it was in the spring and the start of summer.
“Things are settling down,” she said.
*** *** ***
JUNE 2015 STATISTICS
Median price: $725,000 ($700,500 a year ago; $595,000 in 2013; $494,500 in 2012; $535,000 in 2011)
Listings: 522 (625 a year ago; 671 in 2013; 841 in 2012; 1,009 in 2011)
Number of sales: 221 (180 a year ago, 189 in 2013; 164 in 2012; 167 in 2011)
Distressed: Bank-owned, 4; short sales, 8
Unsold Inventory Index: 2.4 months (3.5 months a year ago; 3.6 months in 2013; 5.1 months in 2012; 6 months in 2011)
Average price: $800,980 ($769,132 a year ago)
Median price: $450,000 ($378,525 a year ago; $364,489 in 2013; $295,000 in 2012; $268,450 in 2011)
Listings: 118 (146 a year ago; 167 in 2013; 252 in 2012; 300 in 2011)
Number of sales: 50 (33 a year ago; 67 in 2013; 41 in 2012; 44 in 2011)
Distressed: Bank-owned, 1, short sales, 3
Unsold Inventory Index: 2.4 months (4.4 months a year ago; 2.5 months in 2013; 6.1 months in 2012; 6.8 months in 2011)
Average price: $486,577 ($426,532 a year ago)
*** *** ***
CLOSE TO THE MEDIAN
City of Santa Cruz
130 Glenwood Ave., $700,000
124 Seaside St., $701,000
226 Buena Vista Ave., $740,000
114 Kenneth St., $744,000
239 Jackson St., $745,000
Santa Cruz County
376 Ralston Ridge, Boulder Creek, $725,000
437 Cliff Drive, Rio del Mar, $725,000
16 Siri Lane, Scotts Valley, $725,000
80 Skylark Lane, Corralitos, $725,000
145 Cortez St., Capitola, $727,000
466 Tuttle Ave., Watsonville, $269,000
11505 Lake Blvd., Lompico, $296,000
20 Buckeye, Felton, $298,500
402 Center St., Watsonville, $324,900
121 California St., Watsonville, $325,000
309 Beach Drive, Rio del Mar, $2M
1424 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, $2.025M
208 El Camino Medio St., Capitola, $2,090,325
526 W. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, $2.3M
722 Escalona Drive, Capitola, $4.85M
Source: Real Options Realty