Whether you think the current housing crisis is a cause of a symptom of the economic meltdown in the United States and abroad, there’s no denying that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about how long this recession will last , how deep it will cut , and what this means for people looking to buy a house in Santa Cruz today. I’ve said it several times in various postings to this blog, but I think it bears repeating: I think home prices in Santa Cruz county will continue to drop for the foreseeable future – and by that, I mean the rest of this year, at least. … It’s not a new thing – as I mentioned a blog entry or two ago, this multiple-offer feeding-frenzy has been going on at least 18 months, I don’t see that it is more common today than it was a year or so ago – but perhaps it’s being talked about more in the media, as there is now more effort into talking up the economy rather than talking it down. … I had seen it when it had come up (I send myself e-mails from my automated system for every bank-owned home that hits the market), but at the moment, I had a number of deadlines I was working to meet so I didn’t look at the particulars to see that it was really an incredible deal. … Actually, when it started out, I don’t think it was a short sale – but as the months went by, the price was reduced until finally the owner owed more on it than the market would pay.
Fact is, we have been seeing multiple offers for well over a year now on these bargain-basement properties in Watsonville – and pretty much anywhere in California where bank-owned foreclosures are sold several percent cheaper than competing properties – these properties attract multiple offers and sell quickly. … Pretty much – I didn’t go into 87 Arista when it was on the market, but from what I can tell on the MLS from the pictures, the choice of paint colors and level of amenities in this home was about on par with my listing. … And then, a scant two months later, my own listing comes on with an asking price of $250,000 – that’s 3.8% less than the sale price of a very very comparable property which closed just two months earlier…and I’m on the market eight days, and I’m standing in a field of chirping crickets . … But not too far below – if in fact you were able to buy a home for 10% below true market value, you could not do a thing to the property, then turn around and sell that property to someone else the next day for 10% more than you paid for it.
I said that prices have now reached the point where, in some situations, for some people who want to make Santa Cruz home and plan to be here, either as property owners or not, for some years to come, that it may be about the same expense to buy as to rent – or less, depending on where they want to live and what kind of home works for them. My colleague then said something I had not heard before: “rental prices are dropping in Santa Cruz.” … My colleague figured that the reason rental prices would be dropping in Santa Cruz is that many sellers, rather than selling in a declining market like this one, have opted to just put their houses up for rent rather than try to sell in a market like this, and wait to sell when times are better. Well, I thought, that’s a possibility – I believe there are a lot of would-be home sellers , especially in the mid-county area, who are bursting at the seams to sell their real estate but are putting it until the market exits this cycle. … However, they speculated that the market is soft at the moment because it’s the middle of winter, and this is a time when students are not looking to move into housing, they should have settled in by now.
The first thing I do is go and look at the listing itself – there is a place on the MLS entry for a property where the listing agent can put open house information. … If you point your web browser to mlslistings.com , you will see an image like this right on the first page: That image is hyper-linked to an Open House Search page. … Those are still pretty well advertised in the newspaper, and if you’re looking for a quasi-definitive list of what’s going to be open on the weekend, check out the Santa Cruz Sentinel . … Your Realtor will also probably be happy to hand you a stack of his or her cards and tell you that when you go to the open house, just hand the agent sitting the open house, “I’m working with so-and-so” and hand over one of the cards.