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Santa Cruz County median price home plunged

by Patti Lyles

February home price median retreats to $380,000
by Patti Lyles

The median price for a single-family home in Santa Cruz County plunged in February to $380,000, the lowest since January 2000, prompting one agent to declare the market has bottomed out.

92 sales, with homes in Watsonville, the area hardest hit by foreclosures, accounting for a record 33 percent.

And 66 percent sold for less than $500,000, the highest percentage in years, according to Gangnes.

In Watsonville, banks sold foreclosed homes at discounts of 30 percent to 50 percent.

A few examples:

124 Grant St. sold for $166,000, down from $490,000 in 2004.

38 Lower Cutter Drive sold for $215,000, down from $420,000 in 2003.

518 E. Lake Ave. sold for $235,000, down from $395,000 in 2002.

Those are not condo prices; those are single-family homes.

"We've hit our bottom in South County in single family," said Dee Dee Vargas, president of the Watsonville Association of Realtors. "If you're waiting to see if prices might drop a bit, you might miss the boat. We're seeing multiple offers. I've got more buyers than properties right now."

With a market full of "distressed" properties, banks selling foreclosed homes and homeowners seeking bank approval for short sales, closing a sale is "almost a miracle," she added. "We get a lot of curve balls thrown at us."

It might be a lender that insists on reviewing an appraisal before authorizing a loan or one that shuts down before providing the promised funds.

Entry-level buyers are taking advantage of FHA loans, but some are discovering there's a catch. Distressed properties need repairs to meet FHA health and safety standards, but banks want to sell the home as is and the buyers are stretched to come up with the required down payment.

Some investors competing with first-time homebuyers.

That's driven by a change in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines. The two mortgage-buying entities had restricted investors to four properties. New guidelines allow 10.

Clients qualified for an FHA loan but the bank that owned the house accepted an all-cash offer from an investor.

"With banks, cash is king,"

Tai Boutell of Santa Cruz Home Finance predicts that interest rates for mortgages, pushed artificially low -- at or below 5 percent -- could go up by mid-year to the low 6 percent range. Buyers who wait until then hoping for prices to fall will pay more, he said.

For example, payment on a $500,000 loan at 5 percent would be $2,684 a month; if the home price drops 10 percent in six months and interest rate rises to 6.5 percent, the payment would be $2,844 a month.

While the low-end market is brisk, high-end activity has nearly dried up.

Only four homes sold in February for more than $1 million.

Longtime appraiser Glenn Fuller reported 212 listings in that price range at the end of last week.

"That's a lot," he said.

He tallied only 11 pending sales, leaving about 19 months of inventory.

In 2007. buyers were snapping up $2 million homes around the county. Now they just aren't selling.

Very few people can qualify under the new standards, Fuller said, and the typical buyer of the high-end properties had money in the stock market but doesn't seem as rich since the market tanked.

 

Pros and Cons of FHA loans

by Patti Lyles

Q: I am looking to buy my first home this year. My mortgage broker keeps suggesting an FHA loan, almost like she is assuming that that's what I will choose. But some of my friends who bought recently say that they are more expensive and harder to get than a regular loan. What gives?

A: With subprime mortgages long gone and the credit crunch keeping conventional lending guidelines quite tight, FHA and other government-insured loans have become the mortgage of first resort for many first-time homebuyers and others looking to take advantage of the current buyer's market. In many respects, FHA loans are very buyer-friendly; however, there are some insider secrets every prospective FHA loan borrower should know before they even start their house hunt.

Mindset Management

More now than ever, homebuyers must be vigilant about where they get their real estate advice and information from. Every homebuyer's situation, finances, qualifications, and the advice they receive from their real estate and mortgage professionals are unique. For example, perhaps your friends were working with a mortgage broker who charged much more for FHA loans than conventional loans. Or maybe your friends were looking at fixer-upper properties, and found it difficult to get an FHA loan approved on their ideal property.

If we've learned nothing from the recent mortgage, housing and foreclosure crisis, it is that your choice of mortgage is potentially a massively impactful decision for your long-term financial well-being and the overall wellness and prosperity of your family. Additionally, if you try to process all the voices of your friends, plus the myriad messages about real estate you see on TV and read in the paper and on the Web, you will quickly become confused and overwhelmed as you try to make these very important decisions.

As such, you owe it to yourself to get a reputable professional's personalized assessment of your various mortgage options, and their advice regarding what makes sense for you. While it is good to gain emotional support from friends who have been there and done that, stop short of allowing the input of your friends to sway your decision-making -- rather, use it to direct your research and questions, then make your decisions based on what will work for your finances in the long term.

Need-to-Knows

FHA loans are simply loans that are made by regular mortgage banks, but are insured against default by the Federal Housing Administration. As such, the FHA sets forth the qualifying criteria borrowers and properties must meet to qualify for these loans. Given that the FHA's mandate includes encouraging and facilitating homeownership, the average borrower will find FHA loans easier to qualify for than non-government-insured or conventional loans.

When you pit FHA loans head to head against conventional loans, the following advantages are clear:

  • FHA loans require only 3.5 percent of the purchase price as a down payment -- conventional loans now require at least 5 or 10 percent down;
  • Importantly, the FHA does not mind if your down-payment funds come from a gift, a city-funded down-payment assistance program, or even a charitable organization -- most conventional lenders require the funds to be from your own personal savings;
  • FHA loans offer very low interest rates compared with lower-down-payment conventional loan programs -- the government-backed insurance minimizes the risk on the lender's part, so they charge you less;
  • FHA loans have very reasonable credit qualifying guidelines -- while your specific lender might look for a higher FICO score, the FHA itself has a minimum credit score requirement of 500 if you are putting less than 10 percent down. Realistically, though, most lenders are looking for at least a 620 credit score to obtain an FHA mortgage -- and they look at the borrower with the lowest middle FICO score.
  • The FHA typically implements home saving programs for homeowners with FHA mortgages much sooner and more effectively than non-FHA loans, in the event they run into financial difficulties during the life of the mortgage.

However, your friends may be referring to some of the potential pitfalls that FHA borrowers have also experienced:

  • FHA loans -- like most government programs -- are quite paperwork-intensive, causing some mortgage professionals to broker FHA loans than conventional loans. However, many reputable mortgage brokers will do FHA loans for 1.5 points or even less, so if you are asked to pay much more than that, you might want to get a second opinion. FHA appraisals are also slightly more expensive, but we're talking about a $100 (or less) difference between the cost of a conventional appraisal and an FHA appraisal in most areas.
  • FHA loans place more restrictions on the condition of the property than conventional loans. Time after time, I've seen transactions fall apart because a bank-owned property had no working kitchen sink or stove, or had many broken windows, which the bank refused to repair prior to closing. These items are considered health and safety requirements, and the FHA will not insure a loan placed on a property that does not allow a very basic level of healthy, safe living for its occupants.
  • FHA loans have a strange little twist that allows legally married individuals to buy homes on their own, but still requires that their spouse's credit and debt be taken into consideration in the qualifying process. Don't even ask how I discovered this (!), but it comes up more frequently than you might think. Conventional lenders who allow spouses to buy separately do not consider the non-borrower spouse's financials.

Action Plan

1. Avoid letting your friends' experiences create anxiety or confusion in your mortgage decision-making process.

2. Get a reputable mortgage broker -- ideally by referral from your Realtor -- to give you a personalized assessment of your purchasing power and mortgage options.

3. Use the FHA pros and cons listed above to decide whether an FHA loan or a conventional loan will be best for your finances, target properties and lifestyle.

Hey homeowners loan modification is an idea

by Patti Lyles

Is your loan going to reset?

Part 1 of 2: Preparing for an adjustable-rate reset

Monday, October 22, 2007

by Patti Lyles

(This is Part 1 of a two-part series.)

A loan modification is a change in the loan contract agreed to by the lender and the borrower. The modifications of major concern today are those designed to reduce the payment burden on borrowers faced with impending rate increases that will make the mortgage payment unaffordable to them. Many are subprime borrowers.

Homeowners faced with this prospect, whether they are already delinquent or not, should request a modification. They are very unlikely to get one if they don't ask, and they should make the investment required to make their case. The stakes are very high: They can save their house and their credit.

The Decision Process: In most cases, the decision on a modification is not made by the firm that owns the loan. It is made by a firm servicing the loan under contract to the owner. The owner could be a single lender, or it could be a group of investors who own pieces of a mortgage-backed security collateralized by a pool of loans.

Whoever the owner, the servicing firm is contractually obligated to find the solution to payment problems that will minimize loss to the owner. If the lowest-cost solution is a contract modification, great -- everyone involved prefers a modification to a foreclosure. But if a foreclosure would generate lower costs for the owner, the decision will be to foreclose. The cost of foreclosure to the borrower does not enter the decision.

Yet the decision is far from cut and dried, and it can be materially affected by whether and how the borrower presents his case. On this issue, I have benefited from an exchange with Warren Brasch, an attorney who represents borrowers seeking loan modifications.

Equity: Perhaps the most important factor affecting the modification decision is the amount of equity the borrower has in his property. If the borrower has enough equity in the property to pay any deferred interest plus foreclosure expenses, foreclosure is almost bound to be the lower-cost solution.

Equity depends on property value, which the borrower is much better positioned to know than the servicer. The borrower knows or can easily find out how many houses in the neighborhood are for sale and what the trend has been in recent sale prices. In a weakening market, it is easy for the lender to overestimate value, and the borrower must prevent that.

Moral Hazard: Servicers fear that if they are liberal in granting modifications, borrowers who don't need a modification will seek one anyway. They protect themselves against this by entertaining modification proposals on a case-by-case basis, while placing the burden of proof on the borrower.

Borrowers must accept the burden of proof. In addition to the data on property value, they need to document that they cannot afford the payment increase that is pending, and they must document exactly what they can afford.

For this purpose, borrowers should calculate their total debt ratio: the sum of mortgage payment, other debt payments, property taxes and homeowners insurance as a percent of their gross (before-tax) income. This number should be calculated now, what it will be after the rate adjustment, and what they will be able to afford. On the last, Brasch suggests that a servicer may be willing to accept 45 percent as a reasonable maximum.

Servicing Cost: Servicers have a self-interest in minimizing modifications because they add to costs. They try to minimize costs by computerizing the servicing process to the maximum degree possible, and standardizing customer support procedures so that low-paid and easily trained employees can perform them.

Modifications must be handled by a special group who are more highly trained and better-paid, and the increased costs from expanding their number cuts into the bottom line. Hence, there is a tendency to be nonresponsive in the hope that the borrower will go away.

Borrowers have to be persistent. According to Brasch: "If a servicer says they will call you back … forget about it. You need to call them and call them constantly. They will lose your paperwork, fail to return calls, put you on hold, and then hang up. It's what they do. Keep fighting, calling, faxing. This does work!"

In making their decisions about whether a modification would be less costly than a foreclosure, servicers usually ignore an asset possessed by the borrower that could tilt the balance toward modification. This is the right to future appreciation in the value of the borrower's house. In exchange for a modification that might otherwise be more costly to the owner than a foreclosure, the borrower could pledge a percent of the future appreciation, which could shift the balance to modification. This will be discussed in the second article in this series.

An agent is not your surrogate

by Patti Lyles

A lesson in real estate problem-spotting

All too often, home buyers and sellers remove themselves as active participants in their real estate transaction when the contract is signed, confident that their agent will handle everything for them. This approach can result in an unpleasant surprise if your agent calls to tell you at the 11th hour that the sale has been delayed or won't be closing at all.

A Santa Cruz real estate agent should, of course, stay on top of the details. But an agent is not your surrogate. Ideally, you and your agent will work as a team to close the deal. However, remember that you are the decision maker, and your agent is merely the facilitator.

For example, let's say the people who have agreed to buy your home are having trouble lining up financing. They request a couple of extra days to finalize a loan commitment. The request will be made through your agent. It would be inappropriate for your agent to grant the extension. That's a decision for you, the seller to make, while relying on the good advice of your agent.

The delay in financing could be due to the fact that the lender hasn't received a forthcoming document. Or, it could be due to a bad credit report. The first is nothing to worry about; the second could mean big trouble.

Suppose your agent decides not to bother you with the request for an extension. Instead, your agent tells the buyers' agent that it's OK to take the extra time. The agent has now stepped in to the role of decision-maker.

A few days turns into a week and you still don't know that anything might be amiss with your sale. If the buyers aren't successful in obtaining the financing they need to close, you could have wasted precious marketing time by not staying involved.

Some agents think they're doing their clients a favor by insulating them from bad news. They hope to solve the problem so that the buyer or seller isn't bothered. Although the agent's intentions might be good, they are ill conceived.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: To ensure that you have a successful home purchase or sale, resolve to stay involved in the process from beginning to end. This may seem impossible to buyers and sellers who are extremely busy. There's usually a lot at stake, so it's worthwhile to make time to stay involved in the outcome of your real estate transaction.

One reason buyers and sellers shrink into the woodwork as soon as the contract is signed is they feel they're out of their element. They have little or no real estate experience and think it's best to leave the heavy lifting to people who know what they're doing.

A good way to stay on top of your transaction -- regardless of your level of expertise -- is to ask your agent to provide you with a summary of the critical details of your purchase contract as soon as possible after the final contract is signed.

The summary should include key contract dates for such things as the date the buyer's deposit is due, contingency deadlines (for financing, inspections, the sale of another property, etc.), a final walk through of the property and the closing date.

It should also include the names and contact information of the people involved in the transactions, such as the buyers and sellers, their real estate agents, the closing agent, inspectors and the buyer's mortgage broker or loan agent. A synopsis of who pays for what (transfer taxes, mortgage fees, etc.) is also useful.

THE CLOSING: Enter the key contracts dates on your calendar and follow up with your agent on the critical deadlines as they come due.

BUYERS! If you won't listen to me - listen to the experts

by Patti Lyles
I am asked this question everyday now... Is now a good time to buy a home?
Buyer's you can't focus on falling prices, focus on long-term goals

Monday, September 10, 2007

By Dian Hymer

Last year, the home sale market began to slow, causing many buyers to postpone buying hoping that prices would drop. In fact, in some areas and in some segments of the market, prices have declined. However, in high-demand markets like San Francisco, Austin and Seattle, prices increased compared to a year ago, particularly for upper-end properties.

When interest rates fell below 6.5 percent at the beginning of 2007, San Francisco Bay Area buyers were back competing against one another in a low-inventory market. Was it wise for these buyers to postpone buying until 2007? Waiting resulted in lower interest rates, but in many cases, a higher purchase price.

Mass psychology influences home-buying patterns. For example, when buyers decide that it is not a good time to buy due to fear of falling prices or rising interest rates, this notion tends to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. When the volumes of home sales drop, buyers tend to hold back. When sales heat up, buyers perceive this as a good sign. They feel they must buy immediately before home prices rise and they are priced out of the market.

Buyers tend to follow the herd, which is counterintuitive. It would seem that the best time to buy would be when there isn't competition from other buyers -- that it, in a slow market. However, most buyers feel more comfortable buying when all their friends are buying. The comfort of the crowd validates that their decision is a good one.

Home sale markets are cyclical. There are up markets, down markets, and stable or balanced markets. In an ideal world, you would buy at the end of a down cycle, just before the housing market picks up again. But, it's impossible to time the real estate market. You know that the bottom of a cycle has passed only when the market is moving upwards again.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Given the cyclical nature of housing markets, home buying is risky unless you have a long-term perspective in mind. If you buy at the peak of a cycle and are forced to sell soon after in a softer market, you could end up selling for less than the price you paid. Buyers who can stay put and ride out a down cycle are in a better position to recoup their investment when they sell, and possibly make a profit.

In an uncertain market, buyers who are not sure about how long they will be living in an area may be better off renting than buying. It's often difficult to find a rental that feels like home. However, from a purely financial point of view, buying for the short term could end up costing more than you anticipated if you need to sell in a down market.

A common complaint about renting is that it's a waste of money. There are no tax benefits and you don't build equity. However, it can cost less to rent than to buy. To get the tax write-off, you often need to pay more than you'd have to pay renting. Renting usually requires no home maintenance and there's no risk of losing equity.

Good candidates for buying in a slower market are buyers who are ready to put down roots and stay put for awhile. This not only means that you aren't planning on moving out of the area soon, but it also means that you can afford to buy a home that will suit your long-term needs.

THE CLOSING: A purchase decision should involve a consideration of the dynamics at play in your local market. Prices might or might not drop in your area. In many places like Capitola & Santa Cruz, CA, sales volume is off, but not prices. When inventories are reduced and buyers are back in droves, prices could

"How dumb is that?" isn't what I want to hear

by Patti Lyles

 When I told my buyers last week that Fannie Mae's 2007 Conforming Loan Limit Remains at $417000, they quickly chime in with "How dumb is that?"  As a Santa Cruz County Realtor what do you tell them next week if the buyers come back?

OMG,  The trouble is that $417,000 is the maximum loan amount for a single family residence that Congress will allow Freddie and Fannie to provide, doesn't work in California.  It doesn't help my buyers in the San Lorenzo Valley.  Which is the cheap seats of the real estate theater in my county, I can't believe this.  

This may be fine for some parts of California, it does not provide much help for any home buyers and homeowners in Santa Cruz County where the median price in July was $780,000.  Even if that went down in the next 4 months the conforming limit would still be a joke.  Amazingly, years ago Congress saw fit to raise this conforming limit to $625,500 in the "high-priced" states of Alaska and Hawaii. I will never understood why they didn't include us. Why can't we get the same breaks that Hawaii gets?

The House of Representatives has recently passed a bill raising the limit but the Senate has yet to act. While today's borrowers might still have access to the wide variety of mortgage options that existed prior to this month, there aren't as many viable options to satisfy most of my earnest home buyers or any homeowner (past client) who calls me and wants my advice about refinancing.

I strongly urge the Senate to make this a priority, because we need to help homeowners get access to needed credit.  I sent out an short email to express my thought to Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Gary Miller, and Sen. Charles Schumer.  I understand they are on my side.  What else can I do?  I do still service the high-end $2mil +++ stuff http://www.LuxurySantaCruz.com but I can't get my next door neighbors into homes any more.

I am not a lender but don't you think that in general, the more mortgages the two entities can purchase, the more confident lenders can be about making loans?

I want to buy a Santa Cruz Home in the next 60 days

by Patti Lyles

Q: I want to buy a Santa Cruz Home in the next 60 days. You asked me what my FICO scores are.  I just found out that the score was below what you would have liked.  My FICO scores are a little low, is there a way I can improve my scores very quickly?

A: The first rule of maintaining and keeping a healthy FICO score of 720 or higher is NEVER BE LATE!  Primarily any MORTGAGE PAYMENTS. I can't emphasize the point of how important it is to never be late on your mortgage payments.

But it is not the sole deciding factor of your FICO score, the three major credit bureaus involved with FICO scoring are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. All three of these companies use algorithmic equations taking in a multitude of factors in determining your FICO score. The FICO score range is between 300 and 850 and to get the best rates from lenders today, a mid-score of 720 is needed.

For example, if you have the following three scores, 680, 730, 745, you are in a position to get the most competitive rates because your mid-score of 730 is over the 720 benchmark score. So what happens if your mid-score falls under 720? There are a few things you can do to get a rapid turnaround in 30 days.

The first and most immediate impact is to look at your credit cards. If you have any credit cards at or over 50% of the maximum credit limit, pay those credit cards to under 50% of the credit limit immediately. For example, if you have a bank credit card and the credit limit is $5,000 and you have a standing balance of $3,500, pay that down immediately to 50% of the credit limit, which means sending a payment of at least $1,000 to bring the balance under $2,500. One of the biggest detriments to your FICO score is having what is classified as a revolving debt (a credit card) maxed out or over 50% of the balance. Once the revolving debt is paid down to under 50% of the credit limit, the impact on your FICO score can be significant.

What happens if you don't have the cash to pay down your credit card debts to 50% of the balance?. If you do not have the $1,000 to pay down the balance, you can ask for a credit limit increase. With the above example in mind, requesting the bank to increase your credit limit to $7,000 will reduce your debt to 50% of the credit limit and can give you a boost in your scores. But this is only for the most disciplined of people because most people are in the habit of just spending and putting more on a credit card once they are granted a credit limit increase.

There are other things you can do to improve your scores to buy that Santa Cruz Home which include limiting credit inquires to no more than 12 a year, do not cancel credit cards you may have had for a long period of time, and there are a list of others which we can go into with the lender you choose to work with on any Santa Cruz Real Estate transaction.

How do vacation rentals work in Santa Cruz?

by Patti Lyles

Q. How do vacation rentals work in Santa Cruz?

A. First of all this is a function of specific rules (ordinances) in City of Capitola and the lack of any rules in the City of Santa Cruz, and in Santa Cruz County areas. 

 

As for the City of Capitola, there are strict ordinances that govern daily/weekly/vacation rentals. (That is any time period less than 1 month or 30 days.) The property must be zoned commercial and in the Village, Downtown to be rented in this manner. Also, there is a 10% hotel tax (otherwise known as room tax or transient tax) due at all times. Penalties for not paying this are extreme. 

 

Most is positive about vacation rentals. They are a vehicle to “have your cake and eat it too”.

You buy your Beach House, enjoy it when you want to (or when it’s not rented) and collect about four times the normal rent per month. A rule of thumb is vacation rentals get about the same income per week as you would get per month in the off-season. Of course, you must deduct cleaning, advertising, bookkeeping, maintenance, hotel tax, and any management charges. This total can range anywhere from 25%-45% of the price charged to the guest.

 

Another perk is the constant appreciation that Beach Properties in Santa Cruz County have enjoyed. Even in so-called down markets,  Beach Homes here have stayed strong since most are cash buyers that are not relying on large loans or high LTV’s (loan-to-value) and our limited product inventory.

Contact Patti@PattiLyles.com

http://www.santacruzrealestatehomes.com for more information about real estate or buying a vacation rental.

 

Once you leave Capitola, both north and south, you are in Santa Cruz County designation. These areas include Rio del Mar, Seacliff, Seascape, La Selva Beach, Manresa, and Pajaro to the south. To the north of Capitola, there is Opal Cliffs, Pleasure Point, Live Oak, and the Yacht Harbor. All of these areas have no restrictions except to pay the 10% Hotel Tax.

 

The City of Santa Cruz also has little or no restrictions on vacation rentals that I know of except the 10% Transient Tax due. Fortunately, this Hotel Tax goes to either the City or County areas where the property is located and into those coffers for use on roads and maintenance of that local infrastructure.  When choosing areas for your new beach home that you intend to rent, be sure to call one of the several local vacation rental management companies or a network of owners who want to manage their own. (You can call or email me for this list.) It is important that you ask which property areas are in most demand and exactly what amenities should the property have to get the most rent and be most desirable for vacation tenants.

 

In summary, the positive aspects of vacation rentals are the following: you have your own Beach House when you want it (maybe with a locked closet or room to keep your personal things on site); you enjoy the appreciation over the years; you off-set the expenses with great income; someone else (if you have a management company) takes care of the problems and maintenance; short-term rentals allow more owner control than long-term; you may need to use your assets for income gain; it’s good for the economy of Santa Cruz – tourism is our #1 business. People who rent vacation homes shop, eat, and are entertained in our little Paradise. Call or email questions

 

or comments regarding where to buy and how it works

 

Santa Cruz one of nation's best cities

by Patti Lyles

Outside Magazine issue latest issue names Santa Cruz one of the nation's best cities.

Santa Cruz Home owners once again have proof they live in one of the best towns in America. The upcoming issue of Outside magazine names Santa Cruz in its annual list of the most desirable places to live.

 

The editors at Outside Magazine said they chose Santa Cruz for its mix of laid-back and cosmopolitan atmospheres. The story describes it as, "old-time hippie culture, complete with dread locked street urchins and lots of wheatgrass, blending with the Volvos and BMWs of the high-tech crowd".

John Bradley, a senior editor for Outside Magazine, said the magazine was looking for "smallish" towns that could blend outdoor treasures with an active nightlife.

"It's that juxtaposition in lifestyle of sports and culture that makes Santa Cruz unique," said Bradley. In its profile of Santa Cruz, Outside recommends hiking in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, surfing at Cowell's and tasting local wines at Soif Wine Bar.

Living in paradise does have its drawbacks, though.

Resident Kris Carson, 60, admitted it was hard to make a living in Santa Cruz, and the housing prices don't help.

Santa Cruz has one of the highest costs of living on Outside's list.

But Carson said it's worth it because, "Santa Cruz lets me be myself" As an avid sailor Carson said he loves being near the water. He also acknowledged Santa Cruz's proximity to San Francisco as a bright spot, especially because Santa Cruz "is a terrible town for restaurants," said Carson, a construction manager.

Even those who don't live in Santa Cruz are influenced by its charm.

"It's magical," said Stacie London, who attended UC Santa Cruz and is now an industrial design artist who lives in Los Angeles. "It has everything you'd want for a healthy lifestyle"

London and her husband said they are considering moving here after spending just a few days in town and driving Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay. They said they are impressed with the friendliness of the people and the diverse array of cultural and physical activities. "This would probably be a great place to raise children," said Luis Herrera, London's husband.

This is not the first time Santa Cruz has graced the magazine, popular with outdoor enthusiasts. In 2003, the magazine named Santa Cruz the best college town in America.

The editors at Outside chose one town with a population less than 100,000 in each of nine geographic regions. The August issue hits newsstands July 10.

Contact your real estate agent Patti@PattiLyles.com or look at her site at www.santacruzrealestatehomes.com or www.luxurysantacruzhomes.com for Vacation homes, beachfront and oceanview homes.

Best Towns in AmericaOutside Magzine selected the nation's best cities, with less than 100,000 residents, to live in by region. Santa Cruz was given the honor for the California coast. http://www.gadling.com/2007/07/17/outside-magazine-s-best-towns-2007/

 #1California Seaside: Santa Cruz.

  • Northwest: Bend, Ore.
  • Rocky Mountain: Jackson, Wyo.
  • Southwest: Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Midwest: Iowa City, Iowa
  • Northern Lakes: Duluth, Minn.
  • Southern: Asheville, N.C.
  • Atlantic Coast: Portland, Maine
  • New England: Burlington, Vt.

 Getting Out Of A Dead Market - The Case For Taking What's There And Movin' On
Patti Lyles @ http://www.santacruzrealestatehomes.com

There of course those who might disagree, but as I've said so many times before, buying small residential income properties in Santa Cruz haven't made sense for quite awhile now. Furthermore, I can envision any scenario resulting in positive change so radical that small units become investor friendly in the foreseeable future.

Larger properties offer different dynamics than the little guys, but I still don't see how the rising rents will have much of an impact with the cap rates remaining so relatively low. You just know though, that with the future rents in Santa Cruz almost sure to be higher than they are now, that investors will be attracted to the larger projects in good to excellent areas. With home prices what they are, more and more folks will be renters - a demand factor guaranteed to raise rents region wide.

The smaller units - 2-4 - are selling for, (throw out the high and low) $650-900K  for duplexes, on up to $1.2mil-2,5mil for fourplexes. The owners of these properties wouldn't buy them again at their current values. Ask ‘em. Some of them would immediately start laughing. I have asked some of them, and the ones who've bought in the last 18 months or so regret their decision - sometimes bitterly. But when they think about selling, the thought is quickly squelched. "Just can't do it" they say. Owners say this even when they bought it two hundred grand ago - and will profit handsomely.

Why?

They aren't sure of where else they'd take their equity. Most have read or heard from others about the markets investors like these days - but don't seem to have the confidence, or maybe enough solid info to pull the trigger. I'm guessing many of them are still strong believers in the Santa Cruz Real Estate market, expecting it to bounce back. You can't blame ‘em, that's been their experience the last 40 years or so. Why should this market be different?

Indeed.

The only question now is - how long will it take for them to realize the prices for their type units don't make any sense whatsoever - and most likely won't ever again?

So, what should they do? EXIT NOW

If they're still in growth mode, and their equity to value ratio is favorable, (they have a bunch of equity) they should be moving their capital by way of a tax deferred exchange to an area more hospitable to investors. In other words - find the exit sign and take your equity elsewhere. What many of these investors don't realize is they can easily afford to acquire 2-4 times the property they now own - and with significantly younger buildings to boot.

Here's a quick example.

One client took a small Seabright duplex and executed a tax deferred (1031) exchange. He sold for just over $799K  last October.  He traded into just under $1.2Mil of better located and much younger properties. His tax shelter (depreciation) literally rocketed upward. He now owns five small properties (huge flexibility), his capital growth rate is now turbo-charged, and he's taken himself out of management. That last one didn't exactly upset his wife. 

You're in a changing forever-changed market. You can trade yourself into a far better position - in every way you'd want.

I urge small unit owners in Santa Cruz County, and the many regions just like it, to think long and hard about their current circumstance. Ask yourself - what reasons compel you to keep putting up with the status quo?

Let's review.

Increase the value of your portfolio by two to four times.
Move your tax shelter into the stratosphere.
Get your capital growth rate going in the right direction again - and faster
And for dessert - get out of managing the dang things.  
 

There's no case for a growth oriented investor to keep their equity in Santa Cruz- or any place like it.  We can do a 1031 exchange and get you into a higher cap rate local in 80 days.

What would you do with all the above listed improvements to your investment portfolio and no more management?

I rest my case.

 

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Contact Information

Photo of Patti Lyles Real Estate
Patti Lyles
Century 21 Showcase, REALTORS
P.O. Box 67275
Scotts Valley CA 95067
831-335-2100

DRE #01385517