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Wild Horses Over the Hills

Charles Bukowski’s adage of how the days run away gains greater significance for me with each passing year. My daughter turning five is the surest sign that indeed another year has passed, yet I get the sense that we will wake up in January looking back and wondering if 2016 really happened.

Perhaps it is a function of age, yet I can’t recall another year that went by as swiftly as this one. And it’s been awhile since we’ve seen such a wild string of events on a national level, most notably the results of a presidential election that left folks on both sides wondering if we hadn’t woken up in some strange parallel dimension. The odd thing is, both sides seem to think that their perspective is the one that supports positive change—I just hope that the change that comes will come about in a way that unites instead of divides us.

Those self-same horses could just as well illustrate our local housing market, charging headlong at breakneck speed into unknown territory, with multiple offers continuing to nip at their heels. This year we saw the average price for Santa Cruz County homes hit an all-time high, nearly breaking the million-dollar mark at $942,318 in August—in a month where there were 202 sales. And the average price for condos just hit their all-time high in November at $588,541. With inventory hovering at 2.8 months for houses and 2.2 months for condos, the only thing likely to stop the escalating prices is the pending increase to interest rates, but in the face of current market forces, this has so far only served to make buyers more motivated to act now before rates go much higher.

In the midst of the stampede of media, market data and rumors you still need to be able to make rational decisions based on what you are trying to achieve, and you can find yourself stranded if you don’t chart your course with realistic expectations based on sound decisions. On a national level those decisions aren’t always in our hands, but on a local level we have a little more control. For this reason, accurate analysis of fair market value is one of the things that I work the hardest to provide my clients, which is a task that can be surprisingly difficult in a market where data is often few and far between. After all, when the stakes are this high, it is more important than ever to avoid a misstep.

Looking ahead to 2017, the best we can do is to continue to create space for our hopes and dreams to come to pass. When handled with awareness, even the most challenging situations can help us achieve a positive future as a profession, as a community and as a nation. After all, it is the quality of the decisions we make that will ultimately define who we are as humans.

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