Housing-Related Measures on November 2018 Ballot


The Incredible Shrinking Housing Market

This year there are a number of very important measures that will appear on our November 2019 ballot. Today I want to talk about three that will affect California housing: Proposition 1, Proposition 5, and Proposition 10.   Proposition 1 This initiative seeks to raise $4 billion to pay for affordable housing throughout the State of California, with most of the money going to our veterans. While I know that you may not be in favor of raising taxes, I do think that we need to start solving the problem of the lack of affordable housing. This is not going to be a cure-all, but I do think it is a step in the right direction, which is why I encourage you to vote YES. Proposition 5 This proposition is sponsored by the California Association of Realtors and is about property tax portability. If it passes, it will allow California homeowners who are 55 or older to sell their home and buy another in a different California county and transfer their property tax basis. Many unions such as teachers, firefighters, and police, say this is a bad idea because it may result in a drop in revenue that will hurt their agencies. However, the California Association of Realtors believes that it will be revenue neutral and I think that it will greatly increase the supply of housing by allowing seniors to leave their larger homes for smaller ones with a lower cost. This is why I encourage you to vote YES to Proposition 5. Proposition 10 … Read More

Why the “Shift” Happening in Our Market Isn’t What You Might Think


Shift happens.  But is our California real estate market shifting now too? There are all kinds of stories out there that seem to be saying that it is. Last week I was at a meeting with some big time Silicon Valley real estate brokers, and they agreed that the market has definitely changed. They said that multiple offers are history for now, properties aren’t selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking price, and there’s no need to set an offer deadline anymore because you’re lucky if a seller gets so much as a single offer. This is radically different than the kind of talk we heard earlier in the year about our market, so I did some research of my own on this topic. From what I can tell, the market is pretty much just following its normal yearly pattern. In the summertime, the market usually hits a bit of a lull. In our area, we have two big markets—the spring market (which was a very strong seller’s market this year) and the fall market. We’re just now sliding into the fall market, and based on the numbers I’m seeing, we should still have a strong market for sellers. Inventory has built up over the year (as it does, every year).  You’ll note there are price reductions happening because people overpriced their properties earlier in the year and now they want to get them sold before winter, so you will see a lot price reductions.  It’s important to note, though, that these are asking prices. I haven’t yet … Read More

Aptos Foreclosure Fixer Upper

sebfreyBlog, Distressed Properties

Need a nice fixer upper project? How about a big, fat house on a good sized lot? I’ve got just the place for you – and did I mention it’s less than a mile to the beach (as the crow flies, anyway)?   Plus it’s got swimming pool, detached office room, and an indoor basketball court (yes, really!). Check out the video below: 2816 Estates Drive, Aptos, CA Please let me know if you’d like to get in to tour this amazing opportunity. Yes I know it’s over $1,000,000 (asking price, but we can surely negotiate that down) and it needs a lot of work – but it’s only $380/sf or so which is really cheap for the area.  You can see all the listing details here. Listing courtesy of John Lee, MRL Group, Inc

9 Great Home Selling Survival Tips

sebfreyCommentary, Santa Cruz Real Estate

I’ve got some wonderful survival tips I’d like to share with you today.  But don’t worry, you needn’t be planning on climbing Mount Everest or swimming with sharks for these to be useful.  What I’ve got are nine (9!) great home selling survival tips which will be valuable to anyone who is selling their home – or thinking about doing so. Home sellers tell me all the time their least-favorite part of selling is living in it while it’s being shown. It’s definitely an awkward time period that feels like being in limbo, because you’re halfway between the time when you own the home and when someone else will. Shortening that time period in any way is going to lead to a much more rewarding and satisfying experience. Here are the top tips that I have for you for surviving in your home while it’s on the market: 1. Pack away the clutter. Not only does clutter kill your equity, but it also distracts potential buyers from your house. Do yourself a favor and pack this stuff away or store it. You’ll have less to worry about, it’ll be easier to move when the day finally arrives, and you’ll have buyers focusing more on your house rather than your stuff. 2. Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year. I’m not talking about packing it away; I’m talking about getting it gone. We all have stuff in our basements, closets, attics, and garage that we don’t see, use, or even know exists anymore. Unless … Read More

Santa Cruz Together Fights Rent Control

sebfreyCommentary, Santa Cruz Real Estate

Are you concerned about the movement to bring rent control to the city of Santa Cruz?  The folks working to establish rent control in the city have met the required number of signatures to put the measure on the ballot this coming November, so the rent control question will soon be put to the vote.  While there are many advocates for rent control, the opposite is true as well.  A local group, Santa Cruz Together, is a leading grass-roots effort against what they see as a misguided effort to improve housing affordability which will ultimately result in lower affordability, higher rent, and lower quality housing for all. Santa Cruz Together is a group comprised of over 600 local small property owners (many of them landlords) and “banana slugs.”  Many of these landlords oppose rent control not because it won’t allow them to raise rent, but rather, because they fear it will mean they’ll have to exit the rental business entirely because they won’t want the hassles of dealing with increased bureaucracy, tenant laws, and “just cause evictions” which make it very problematic to stop renting to tenants, even after a lease as expired.  Many landlords say they’ll simply remove their rental properties from the market, which will decrease the rental pool and ultimately work to raise rental prices. Their web site provides a wealth of information on the topic of rent control, and shares some sobering statistics, such as: In rent controlled Santa Monica, 25% of rental units were withdrawn In rent controlled San Francisco 30% of … Read More

A Very Special Offer of a Free Room-by-Room Review

sebfreyLocal, North Monterey County Real Estate, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Silicon Valley Real Estate

It’s springtime—the time of year when a lot of people start thinking about selling their homes. If you’re one of those people, I’ll bet that you’ve asked what you can do to the property to really boost the sales price and net the highest amount of money. Many people worry that they’ll have to make big, expensive upgrades or repairs.

What Lessons From the 2007 Financial Crisis Still Apply Today?


Today, I want to share with you five important lessons that I learned from the 2007 financial crisis With housing prices as high as they are today in California, there are many communities here where prices are far higher than they were even back in 2007. I spoke to a lot of homeowners back then who were going through extreme difficulties, and I learned some very important lessons that I want to share with you: 1) Don’t buy a home that you can’t afford. Back then, so many people bought homes they couldn’t afford, feeling that if they didn’t buy them, they’d be priced out of the market and never be able to buy a home ever again. Well, we know now that if they’d waited a few years, they would have found that homes were a lot more affordable. Don’t buy into the hype that if you don’t buy now, you’ll never be able to buy again.  Just keep on saving for the day when buying a home becomes in reach. 2) Don’t always believe that your home will go up in value. A lot of people believe that California home prices will always increase. In reality, they don’t; they fluctuate up and down, sometimes quite a bit. If they go down by a lot during a time in which you find yourself needing to sell, you could be in a bit of a tricky situation. This is important to consider when you’re buying a home: it’s a long-term commitment, and you want to jealously … Read More

Santa Cruz Median Home Price hit $920K in March

sebfreyCommentary, Local, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Silicon Valley Real Estate

Real Estate Report

The Santa Cruz real estate market is making headlines again.  A few weeks ago, the news was that the median home price in Santa Cruz county had dipped below $800,000 for the first time in 15 months.  But a fresh look at MLS data reveals that the Santa Cruz median home price hit $920K in March 2018.  This is believed to be the highest median home price ever recorded in Santa Cruz county. Here’s a quick break-down of the March 2018 Santa Cruz Real Estate Market data: $920,500 median single family home price (+12.3% vs. $820,000 a year ago) 132 Homes sold (+16.8% vs. 113 year ago) 37 Days on Market Average (-27.5% vs 51 DOM a year ago) $647/sf Average (+29.4% vs. $500/sf average a year ago) 210 New Listings hit the market (+2% vs. 206 a year ago) When the news hit a month ago that the January median price had dipped below $800K for the first time in over a year, I cautioned people that one month does not make a trend, it could easily be an outlier.  Likewise, March’s $920K number could also be an outlier.  Certainly, we are seeing a considerable amount of volatility in the market. Santa Cruz is 6th Hottest Housing Market in the USA Last month we reported on the 20 hottest housing markets in the entire United States.  Last month, Santa Cruz came in at #11.  This month, Santa Cruz is 6th hottest real estate market in USA.  This is according to a new article in Realtor Magazine.  Once … Read More

New Podcast for San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area


Great news everyone – there’s a fabulous new podcast for the San Francisco and Monterey Bay area! Do you listen to podcasts, ever?  If not, you don’t know what you’re missing.  If you’re not familiar with what a podcast is, here’s the scoop: it’s essentially a radio show that you can listen to on demand via your mobile device when it’s convenient for you, like on the way to work, walking the dog, at the gym, whenever. I was telling someone the other day about my podcast, and she mentioned that a lot of her friends had told her they are avid podcast fans. So she says to them, “So it’s basically just AM talk radio, right?” Actually, it is somewhat like talk radio, except without all the ads – and of course, you can listen to it when you want, where you want.  Another key difference is that with a podcast, you can listen to only the topics that interest you – it’s very niche. For example, I myself listen to a lot of podcasts about real estate – and there are lots of them.  But on my podcast, I don’t really talk about real estate. Mine is called “The Bay to Bay Podcast” and it’s all about living life in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay area. Instead of talking much myself, I mostly just listen to what my guests have to say. I talk with folks from all walks of life.  I want to hear about and share their stories, their passions, and … Read More

Just Cause Evictions in Santa Cruz

sebfreyCommentary, Santa Cruz Real Estate

I recently attended an all-member meeting of the Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors.  We have these meetings once or twice a year, to discuss what’s new and changing in the real estate eco system.  The headline issue at this meeting was the new rent control measures now in effect in Santa Cruz.  Chief among these is what’s known as just cause evictions.  This page is based off a series of notes I made from the presentation at that meeting, given by local Santa Cruz Real Estate attorney Terry Rein. A little background: Santa Cruz Ordinance 2018-04 is an emergency interim ordinance put in place to establish “just cause evictions” while citizens of the city gather signatures and funds to put the issue of rent control up for a vote in the November election.  The measure on the November ballot will include provisions very similar to what we have in this interim ordinance.  You can download a copy of the full text of the Santa Cruz Rent Control Act of 2018 here. Before we got any further, It goes without saying that although these are my notes from a presentation given by a local real estate attorney, what follows is not legal advice. Notes on Just Cause Evictions When you’re looking landlord/tenant law you have to know first what the current state of affairs is. Historically, a landlord could pick any tenants they chose, as long as they didn’t violate fair housing laws. In a lease, a landlord could require that the property would only be … Read More