Why Boulder Creek and the 95006 clash with the trend: The influx of tech started with social and political unrest
A hardy type of landlord has always been drawn to Boulder Creek, where house prices have always been controlled by remoteness from the city, winding roads and extremely wet winters.
Power outages and quirky cell reception are rife, and last year’s horrific CZU fire should have been a further drag on house prices.
Yet home values in Boulder Creek are skyrocketing along with the rest of Santa Cruz County, confusing expectations and crushing one of the area’s last pockets of affordable housing.
Median single-family home prices in Boulder Creek ZIP code 95006 rose more than 33% between July 2020 and July 2021, from about $ 670,000 to $ 895,000, according to data compiled by the Multiple Listing Service . The average price in July 2011 was only $ 333,000.
Boulder Creek prices over the past decade
Open house events continue to be overwhelmed by potential buyers, with bidding wars pushing sales well above asking prices. Area 95006 – which includes a strip of remote mountainous land outside of Boulder Creek proper – has about 8,979 residents, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
The CZU fire, which burned more than 900 of the area’s approximately 4,520 homes, came amid the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread economic uncertainty. Real estate professionals were bracing for a drop in prices in Boulder Creek and were surprised to see a record increase in business instead.
“I thought the (CZU) fire would bring the prices down, but that didn’t happen,” real estate agent Mark Thomas said. “Some buyers recoil from the risk (of fire), but there is so much demand, so many people are lining up to buy. It’s so hard to find anything reasonable in Santa Cruz or anywhere else.
Some Thomas clients say the pandemic has rearranged their life priorities, increasing the desire for home ownership. Some families have pooled their resources to create multigenerational living situations on large rural properties. But political and social unrest has also fueled the hot seller market.
Officer Jayson Madani said last summer’s protests and other political violence sent a wave of buyers seeking refuge in the redwoods.
“When the riots happened, my phone just started ringing – I was hearing 20 shoppers a day,” Madani said. “The people of Silicon Valley wanted to get out of the cities. I’ve been working here since 2004… and it’s the busiest year we’ve ever had.
The new buyers are mostly Silicon Valley tech workers, and Madani says they’re not put off by the region’s faulty utilities and narrow, windy roads. “People are installing several Tesla home battery systems (Powerwall) and waiting for Elon Musk’s Starlink system (for the Internet),” he said. “They’re buying with the expectation of faster connections, soon. And some people like to ride Highway 9 and the Skyline (Boulevard) in their Teslas. “
Sadly, the locals are unquestionably outbid by the big pockets and cash offers of top earners from companies like Google, Apple and Netflix. “It is difficult to respond to these calls from residents,” Madani said. But he noted that tech buyers tend to bid on large, immaculate, fully staged homes, ignoring modest homes and renovators.
And this pool of modest houses is actually significant, as most mountain houses were built between the 1930s and 1960s, and many were designed to be summer cabins. There are still some great deals to be had for buyers with home repair skills and those who wish to live in smaller homes. And while local buyers are struggling, local homeowners are reaping the windfall of sky-high house prices.
The perceived influx of new money irritates some residents. But watching city dwellers come and go is an age-old cycle in the mountains, where full-time residents typically know how to power a woodstove, get by for weeks without electricity, and fire up a chainsaw.
Madani said he had clients who fled to Los Gatos after a year in the hills because they couldn’t handle the roads. A city registry (which will remain anonymous) admitted he had previously visited his rural fire department to report a dead skunk on the road, believing firefighters would ‘deal with’ it in a way. or another. The fire station staff stared at him in disbelief until he left.
But this transplant finally figured out how to become a local and how to get rid of a dead skunk. There is a learning curve to living in the mountains, and only time will tell if this year’s newcomers will love it or leave it.
Boulder Creek real estate broker, Deborah Donner, of Donner Land & Homes Inc., thinks that newcomers and old people for the most part have something in common: the love of the mountains and the dream of building an authentic life here. .
“I think it’s a cliché to see tech people as ‘the other’,” said Donner, who has lived and worked in the Boulder Creek area for over 40 years. “Whether you are a millennial nature lover, a mom and dad family, a hippie or an engineer, the people who come to the woods have a common dream: to live outside the box and enjoy the fresh air and large trees. These are outliers looking for a better life, and I don’t think that has changed over the years.
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