Median up $757,000 in June


SANTA CRUZ — Despite a real estate slowdown nationwide and the growing numbers of county homeowners missing their mortgage payments, one segment of the Santa Cruz housing market is buoyant: high-end homes.
Six homes in Santa Cruz County sold for more than $2 million in June, matching the number of $2 million-plus sales in April.

View a map of the six homes sold for more than $2 million in June.

Case in point: a 4,250-square-foot home with an ocean view and a wine cellar in the gated community of Monte Fiore in Scotts Valley sold for the listed price: $2.25 million. "There were three interested parties and it was more of a race," said Mark Oliverez, a real estate agent with Alain Pinel who represented the seller and the buyer.

In fact, of the 164 sales in June, 40 were for $1 million or more, a higher percentage than in May. The high-end market phenomenon gained attention last week in The New York Times, which reported that sales of homes priced at more than $1 million are up in Boston, New York and Miami.

In Santa Cruz County, affluent buyers are willing to pay higher prices for ocean-view homes.

June statistics

Single family homes
Sales: 164
Listings: 1,292
Unsold inventory index: 7.9 months
Median price: $757,000

Sales: 32
Listings: 289
Unsold inventory index: 9 months
Median price: $560,000

Source: Real Options Realty

The increasing number of high-end sales in Santa Cruz County is keeping the median home price high, at $757,000 in June, a barely perceptible dip from $760,000 in May. But the number of overall sales is down in comparison to the red-hot market of three years ago, when more than 250 homes sold in June. This year's June sales, 164, are the fewest since 2001, according to Gary Gangnes of Real Options Realty, who compiled the monthly statistics. The current housing inventory is at a 10-year high with 1,292 listings.

For those hoping more for-sale signs saying "reduced" would mean the median sales price would fall into the $600,000 range, it's just not happening. In many parts of the county, asking prices are high. The average listing price is more than $1 million in Aptos, Capitola, Davenport, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel, according to Gangnes, although he cautioned that listing prices do not reflect sales prices.

Sales of pricey homes rebound

Median sale price: $774,375
Number of sales: 128
Sales over $1 million: 35

Median sale price: $760,000
Number of sales: 147
Sales over $1 million: 27

Median sale price: $757,000
Number of sales: 164
Sales over $1 million: 40

Source: Real Options Realty

Ocean-view homes, and those within walking distance of the ocean are selling for more than $1 million, longtime agent Tony Aprile said. Patti Boe of American Dream Realty said she was too busy showing homes to have an extended conversation Friday. "I have seven escrows," said Boe, who was involved in two of the six $2 million-plus sales in June.

Kelley Trousdale, who sold a Rio del Mar home in June for $4.5 million, said high-end buyers tend to be people from the Central Valley with disposable income and a yen for a second home with a beachfront. Other agents said high-end buyers include local residents. The buyer of the Scotts Valley home was trading up from a property in Felton, but one of the other prospects was a New Yorker who had sold a business and wanted to move back to Santa Cruz.

Frank Murphy, who represented a buyer who paid $2.5 million for an ocean-view home on the Santa Cruz Westside on Refugio Road, said his clients lived in Santa Cruz but wanted acreage close to the city. Murphy also had a San Mateo prospect who has sold a business and was looking for the right location for a family compound. Two deals fell out of escrow when flaws in the property came to light, and the client ended up buying in Sebastopol.
That's typical for a high-end shopper.

"People can afford these homes and they don't want to settle or compromise," said Oliverez, using the word "cherry-picking" to describe the market. That's why Aprile went to the trouble of bringing in Erin Blackburn to "stage" the Refugio Road home, which was otherwise vacant.
"It's almost a requirement in this market," Aprile said. "When they see the furniture they tend to slow down"

Victoria Pendorf represented the Napa Valley buyer of 302 Cherry Ave. in Capitola, which sold for $3 million. She called the ocean view "amazing — you don't want to leave" The Napa Valley buyer is in the "pre-retirement" crowd, a demographic that could generate more high-end buyers.

The Silicon Valley tech rebound is another factor in the high-end market.
Oliverez mentioned a client who came from Arizona to work in high-tech and bought a $2.6 million home in Los Gatos. "You're not seeing layoffs, you're seeing hiring," he said. "Relocation buyers are out there"

Contact Jondi Gumz at
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