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The Best (And Worst) of Our Housing Market

The average and median housing prices in Santa Cruz County hit all-time highs in February, which struck me as apropos to report in a Best of Santa Cruz Issue…for those who already own a home here, at least. But the feeling is different for others, as shown in several excerpts from a recent thread on a local online neighbors group:

It started with a post:“Room for rent in a large (2600 SF) home. Available bedroom suite (200+SF) with large private bathroom and built-in closets. Rent is $1000/month. Move-in expenses are: first month's rent plus a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. (Total of $2,000)”. [later added] “The landlord said that it would be $300/mo more for 2 people.”

This prompted responses ranging from: “That is so much money for a one bedroom. Is this really what rooms are going for now days? I own my home so I am out of the loop but wow that's crazy”, to: “I hate to be a Debbie downer but how have we all accepting this ridiculousness about housing!!??? $1,300 for a sublet if there are two people is out of this world!!!! $1,000 for a bedroom no matter how nice it is, is still ridiculous!! I've lived here my whole life, going on 34 years, and I've never seen it so ridiculous!!

To which the original poster replies:“I agree that rents today in Santa Cruz are insane. I am a renter so I am well aware of that fact. If I may offer an aspect that we are opening our house to share our beautiful kitchen, dining room, living room, and deck...I ask you to consider how much your privacy is worth - just how much would you ask for if you had to open your house to share with others?”

This drew wide support from others who pointed out (correctly) that Santa Cruz County has the 5th most expensive rental market in the US, and the following perspective was offered by another:“I have a very nice little three-bedroom two-bath and I just rented out the master bedroom and bath (private with walk in closet) for $1600! I agree with you it's kind of crazy but mortgages are high too. I'm in a position right now where I couldn't pay the mortgage by myself without the roommate so I am charging market value”.

When you see that the average price of homes sold in our county just hit $951,758 (with the median not far behind at $874,000) in February, it helps put in context that many folks, homebuyers and renters alike, are getting hit hard by the strong Silicon Valley economy.

For better or for worse, supply and demand is an unstoppable force, and the secret seems to have gotten out amongst people with money that we live in one of the most awesome places on the planet. And now many among us, some of whom were here first are driven to figure out increasingly creative ways for people to afford to live here.

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