You don't need to know anything about real estate to buy or sell real estate. You really don't. But I'm going to explain what you might want to know or should know. Buying here in Santa Cruz County is not easy or cheap. I get a lot of calls. I get buyer calls, I get seller calls, I get people who have ideas about real estate. And it could be that maybe they're looking too much online and not getting down to the basics of what would really help them be successful in their endeavor of trying to buy or sell. Going on Zillow and and just the internet or YouTube, one might think, oh, I can just look at all this stuff and I can find the back door to that market. There is a way to get in there and I don't have to pay these high prices. I'm going to figure it out.

The request I hear the most is “I want to buy some land and then I want to put a house there.” I know in a lot of the areas throughout our country you can do that. And I'm not saying you can't do it here, it's just difficult. And if anything, it's not the easy way in to Santa Cruz. Buying land and building is one of the hardest ways in and could be the costliest. Let me give you a quick example. I had a buyer, they wanted to buy some land out in the South County of Santa Cruz, close to the ocean. It was a, a hilltop property and we walked up it, we didn't get all the way, I don’t think we even got to the actual place the pad would be, but we, we went way out there, and we checked it all out, it looked good, but it was super rough and there were no utilities close by to grab to use.

This means utilities must be brought to the property and it is difficult. And this particular area was also a protected area where the coastal commission had a layer over all the permits that said it was a special septic area. That is your sewer and there is not electricity nearby and the water situation for the well is unknown. So you have buying the land, which is hard to get a loan on and I'm not going to talk about that here. And then getting a construction loan, which is also very difficult to do and I'm not going to talk about that here either. Those are just things that aren't the easy route. Then there is getting a permit to build. Right now building and planning is super impacted because of the fires a couple years ago. It's just not the easy way into the market.

Next call I get is for a mobile home park end of Delaware Avenue, De Anza Mobile home park in our coveted 95060 zip code on the west side of Santa Cruz, which just about everybody really wants to be. It's near the beach and it's a beautiful spot. And the mobile homes are, I think they go as low as $125,000 now. Buyers see those come across the internet and aha, here's my way. I can get in. It's super cheap. And then they find out the space rent is like $2000, a month to as high as $5000 a month. The closer you get to the ocean. That is not a backdoor to our market either because those space rents are high because you are oceanfront.

That is what oceanfront costs. If you had a home on the edge of the ocean, the Pacific Ocean here in Santa Cruz, it's not cheap. And that mobile home park is basically an example of, of what it would cost to live ocean side again no short cut.

Lastly there is “I want to buy a small house up in the hills, but I don't want to be near the fires.” I understand but in the hills is in the trees. I have taken very nice people, and I don't want this to seem like I am digging on anybody who wants to try to buy property here. I am just saying that when you understand more about the market or you work with somebody who understands the market, you'll understand the complexity of buying here in Santa Cruz.

And you might get lucky and find somebody who's willing to sell you some great house for not a great price. I'm sure it happens. It's like winning the lottery and it is a unicorn overall. It's not an easy market to buy in. Sometimes the more you look online, this makes it harder because you're looking at all the websites and you're hearing these stories possibly and you're thinking, you are going to be able to to sneak in and it's just not that easy.

Back to the example of buying a house up in the trees. I was working with this buyer, she was super nice and we had fun looking at properties, and looked at a few that were really cheap and they were awful. I mean, they were just awful. I just don't even know if that hillside or that Wet Gulch should have had homes. Maybe they should just be restored to forest lands. It was just wet and the house was beat and dilapidated. I was so glad she didn't like it. I really wouldn't have felt comfortable selling it to her. I would've worried about her during storms. My point is, you don't need to know anything about buying real estate here but get somebody who really understands the area and all the little nuances.

One more example of knowing the market. Last year, if you had a property for sale, you could expect if you cleaned it up a bit, got some inspections, reports and did your disclosures, you could have a buyer come in say, I am going to give you more than you want and I'm not going to ask you to do anything on your property and I'm going to read all your inspections and reports might ask a few questions, but I'm going to buy it completely as is. That was last year. I would say that might have even been January or February of this year. But now we are in a market where the buyer can maybe take a little time to research the property, get a loan, even have an appraisal contingency because things have changed. So when I say there's no backdoor to the market, you don't need to know anything. Yet the market has changed this is where a local professional comes in because how to weather the current market will need guidance.

If you are flexible, which I say so many times because that is probably going to be what will determine the price you pay, and then the size and the amenities in that area. Your best bet is to understand you will pay more than you want to pay, maybe have a ½ bath instead of 2 full bathrooms and you maybe farther from the beach than you want but that might be your ultimate sneak into the real estate market here in Santa Cruz. Please feel free to contact me for more information I do have a few tricks that I share with clients too!


Posted by Michele Replogle on


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