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Making a Difference One Sale at a Time

Making a Difference One Sale at a Time

In 2015, Angel and I made a very public commitment to donate a portion of our income from every sale we completed.  Since then, schools such as Delaveaga Elementary, Santa Cruz Gardens, Branciforte Middle School and Westlake Elementary have all received donations. (Click here to see full list of donations)

We are firmly committed to supporting local school systems.  We never miss the opportunity to help with fundraising.  We understand that it takes a village, and that every little bit helps.

We are lucky to have had the opportunity to work with very close friends of ours on a sale and purchase. This family designated the Santa Cruz Gardens Home and School Club as the recipient of the donated funds. Here is where the story gets really good.  Rather than just forwarding the donation on to the Home and School Club, this family advocated tirelessly to see that the funds would be put to good use.  The $1000 donation on its own wouldn't fund an entire program, but, with the Home and School Club matching the donation, Santa Cruz Gardens will be able to kickstart a new Science curriculum.

Science is Elementary will be made available for Kindergarten and 1st graders.  The program relies on a trained volunteer, utilizes small group sizes, and hopes to spark a lifelong interest in science.

Bravo to our friends, to the Home and School Club, and to all of the parents, students, and teachers at Santa Cruz Gardens.

Santa Cruz's Disappearing Market: Where did the entry-level market go???

I'll make the argument that the entry-level market has disappeared. Gone are the days when young couples would buy their first condo, accumulate equity, and then move up into their first single family home.

According to the WSJ,  the "number of first-time home buyers [has fallen] to lowest level in three decades." The last time we saw first-time homebuyers represent a 32% share of the marketplace it was 1987.  Historically, this figure has averaged around 40%.

The biggest obstacles noted by would-be first time homebuyers are saving for a down payment and high student loan debt.  Santa Cruz's rapidly increasing rental rates have only compounded the issue; higher rents have made it more difficult to save.

Further aggravating the issue is the non-existent price difference between a condo and a home.

Yup, you heard me right. The gap in price between a condo and a home is almost non-existent.

Within Santa Cruz city boundaries the two lowest priced active homes are listed at $575,000 and $599,000. Both are two bedroom homes, under 1000 square feet in size. The lowest priced two bedroom condo is listed for $549,000. However, with the condo's $380 HOA fee, the monthly cost to own the condo is essentially the same as the single family home.

170 Everson Dr is a condo listed for $549,000. 
315 Button St has been on the market for 136 days. Listed for $599,000
Now, on one hand, I can see some readers jumping up and down for joy. This is good news.  Why buy a condo when you can have a house for the same price?!

On the other hand, the affordability factor (or lack of it) is alarming.

If you have the typical 20% down payment saved up ($120,000) and $0 debt, you would need a household income of about $100,000 to purchase a $599,000 property. The median household income for Santa Cruz is currently $62,755.

With property values rising so quickly, the entry-level market has essentially disappeared. Condos and townhomes alike have risen drastically in value. Their prices are competing with that of single family homes.

(On a side note, this is GREAT news for condo/townhome owners who bought when the units were still at entry-level market prices.)

Affordable Options are available

Santa Cruz City currently has Measure O in place, a voter-approved initiative to require developers to designate a certain number of new units as affordable housing units.  Recently, developer Bill Brooks had 2 units set aside in the new Delaveaga Park Home development on Sunny Ln in Prospect Heights.  There was a wait list of about 20 parties who were interested in purchasing an affordable housing unit. Likewise, the County has a similar initiative in place- Measure J.

2 Measure O homes sold for $393,451 while the other market rate homes sold for $735,000+

Angel and I are passionate about housing and have had great success working with buyers of all different incomes and budgets. Whether it's your first purchase or you're 10th, we hope you will contact us to see how we can find an affordable option that meets your lifestyle needs.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

"Anti-California" Stickers on For Sale Signs

Picture a place with coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and food carts.  Nearby ocean beaches offer the smell of salt air, sand between your toes, and crashing waves. Historical architecture lines the streets coupled with the latest in LEED buildings.  Liberal communities dotted with Gluten-Free, bicycle-friendly people and the endless offerings of State Parks, trails, and outdoor experiences.

I was NOT describing the Bay Area. I was describing Oregon.

As the median sales price in San Francisco has risen well above the million dollar mark and the median sales price in San Jose and surrounding Santa Cruz areas have topped $750,000, it's no wonder some Californian's are looking to the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle, after all, is home to Google, Amazon, HP, and Microsoft, AND the median sales price is only $350,000.

Major Price Difference: Portland vs. Bay Area

$350,000 in Santa Cruz will buy you a 2007 manufactured home in an age-restricted community (55+.) You don't even own the land.

On the other hand, $307,000 will buy you a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom 2000+ square foot home with a partial basement on a 5,000 square foot lot.

800 Brommer St #2 sold for $340,000 in September
7219 SE Harold St, Portland, OR sold for $307,000 in October

So can you really blame Californian's for looking Northward to relocate? Climate is similar, the landscape is green and water isn't restricted. I don't think any people in Portland are leaving it mellow when yellow and flushing down when brown.

Oregon Backlash

I can only imagine that, with breaking hearts, those Californian's who are electing to make the move can at least ease their pain knowing they are headed to a land of similar culture, vibe, and lifestyle. Why wouldn't Portland welcome a mass exodus of hipsters, millennials and tech retirees with open arms?

Courtesy of Lori Fenwick

In recent weeks, stickers like this one have popped up on For Sale signs around Portland. The local real estate market is starting to experience bidding wars and properties selling for well above list price. Some local Realtors attribute the rising prices to historically low inventory levels and buyer frustration.  Does this scenario sound familiar?

As locals are being priced out of their own market, many are turning their frustration into blame.  Blame on Californians for their "mass exodus" and their single-handed responsibility for a pricing "bubble."

Change is inevitable. When you look around Santa Cruz now, it is not the same Santa Cruz it was 30 years ago.  Whether you agree or not with Portland locals and blame Californians for hiking up their local property values, what the heart of this story reminds me is that Real Estate is not just local, it's Global.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

WIN!!! $25,000 or a NEW CAR

It’s simple. It’s easy. There’s no catch.  

Purchase a ticket for $5 each or $25 for 6 tickets.

Top Prize is $25,000 or a 2015 Toyota Prius or Subaru Outback.

100% of the money from the tickets will go to local schools.  Any tickets you buy from us will go to benefit our kids school, Delaveaga Elementary.

Contact me to buy your tickets today. Hurry!  Ticket sales end October 18, 2015!!!

Drive for Schools is an annual Santa Cruz County schools fundraiser.  Thanks to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Capitola Auto Mall Dealership who have teamed up to sponsor the event and offer the top prizes of either $25,000 or a new 2015 Toyota Prius or 2015 Subaru Outback. There are ten additional $1,000 cash prizes and 100+ additional prizes donated by local businesses.

What would you do if you won?

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

Multi Generational Households are on the Rise

The weekend birthday circuit. Need I say any more?

Once school starts, it’s only a matter of time before the invitations start coming home crumpled and wet at the bottom of their backpacks. 
Open House or Birthday Party???

There are a lot of tough choices for Angel and me when it comes to the weekend schedule. Who does the Open House and who takes the kids to the Birthday Party?  

Often we settle the matter with a good old-fashioned, reliable and very mature round of Ro-Sham-Bo.  (For the record, it’s always 2 out of 3 to win.)

As I’m enjoying the company of 3 other families at this last party, the conversation turns towards housing.  It’s a very common, and often heated, topic here in Santa Cruz.  Family A, B, & C all are 2-parent working households, with the average of 2.3 kids. All parents are gainfully employed.

The Families

Family A’s current situation is shared rental housing with a grandparent. Parents wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to live in this house without grandma’s financial contribution. Likewise, grandma wouldn’t be able to afford any rental or housing situation on her own. Rents and housing prices have just skyrocketed!

Family B owns their home. They were able to buy a starter home back in 2009, pre-kids, at the bottom of the market, and with a generous 20% down payment gift from their parents.  Family B has outgrown their home and wants to up-size but can’t make the numbers work without a significant contribution from their extended family again.

Family C's income doesn't keep
up with their $3000/month
rent payment

Family C is in a rental. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, clean, safe neighborhood, nothing fancy.  Sometimes they struggle making the $3000 rent payment a month and have to ask for assistance from a set of parents to get them through the tougher months. 

The Question

I would be lying if I said these types of conversations or family circumstances were a first-time occurrence.  In fact, the housing affordability topic frequently comes up.  I hear about all kinds of living situations, family compounds, assistance, generous down payment gifts, properties being willed to grandkids.  I’ve heard it all. 

Through the course of these conversations, I usually offer some contribution to the discussion, pick a few brain’s, throw in a couple ideas, and then inevitably follow everyone else into the yard for cake and piñata.  There is no real concrete solution to offer.

What are people going to do to stay here in Santa Cruz?

The Numbers

755 14th Ave, Santa Cruz
Swan Lake Gardens
Measure J County Affordable Housing

If you look at the raw data, the median household income in Santa Cruz County is $67,000 (I’m rounding up.)  Based on that income, one might be able to qualify for a $300,000 loan.  That’s assuming great credit and no debt. Yet, the median value of owner-occupied housing is $557,500.  That’s a $250,000+ discrepancy.  Even if the family saved 25% of their income, it would take them 15+ years to save enough to bridge the gap between wages and housing values. 

Again, I come back to the same question. 

What are people going to do to stay here in Santa Cruz?


HOW are they going to do it?

So… How are they going to do it?

Upwards of 16% of the population are already living in multi-generational households.
One third of adult children expect to share a household at some point. Why? The 65+ population is expected to double.  Long term care costs continue to rise. Millennials are entering a shrinking workforce with increasing college debt. To name a few.

It's very common in other countries for grandparents to
live with their grown children and family.

Multi-Generational Households aren’t coming, they’ve already arrived.  

Listen at the next birthday party.  Ask about people’s current living set ups. Talk with me. I’ll tell you how homes with a "granny unit" are selling for a premium.  Duplexes are being snapped up before the first open house. Family compounds are IN! Buyers want to know where they can put in a guest unit or divide a large home into two separate living spaces. 

If you own a multi-unit property or family compound that you’ve outgrown, now is the time to consider selling. If you’re considering a multi-generational purchase, see me so we can come up with a serious strategy.  Housing costs are not going to go down. It’s time to talk about how to secure your future here in Santa Cruz. 

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

This is what $10,000,000 looks like in Santa Cruz

4660 Opal Cliff Drive, Offered for $10,690,000

It's been 4 months since Santa Cruz County has had a $10,000,000+ listing on the open market and nearly 9 months since the last closed sale.  When this uber-luxury listing popped up for sale on Opal Cliff Drive, I was excited.  Finally.... maybe Santa Cruz will finally breech it's glass ceiling.

I was really, really, really (to the 10 millionth "really") ready to be inspired, awed, and rendered speechless.

For the younger generations,
this is the adult
equivalent of MTV's "Cribs."

I had grandiose visions of previewing this property and transporting myself into my own real-life episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."  For those of you that don't know, this was a TV series hosted by, none other than, Robin Leach in the 80s and early 90s.  One of my favorite shows to watch, I might add.

So what does $10,000,000 get you in Santa Cruz?

Strictly speaking numbers, it will buy a 4100+ square foot, 1939 home with 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a 3 car garage and bonus room on 1.23 acres spread over 3 parcels.  So the value must be in the amenities and the view, the estate setting, right?

1 Thayer Rd sold for $13,700,000 in December 2014

In the last 5 years, Santa Cruz County has had only ONE sale (on the open MLS) above the $10,000,000 mark. That property was located in Bonny Doon and sold for $13,700,000 in December 2014. It was a 5000+ square foot ranch on 147 acres with a caretaker's cottage, guest cottage, and all of the modern amenities a luxury buyer could want. Multiple barns, a wood shop, surfboard storage, crystal clear pool, views to the Ocean, and a fully restored and updated main residence.

Back to Opal Cliff Drive-
The view was amazing. There's nothing like opening up the sliding door and smelling salt-rich air from the Pacific Ocean. An acre of ocean front property is also unheard of in Santa Cruz. It really is a once in the lifetime opportunity to gobble up a limited piece of prime coastal front property.  The reality is we can always build more homes, but it's not like we can "make" more coastline.

But here's where I feel a professional obligation to set the record straight.  If you're looking for all of the bells and whistles, keep looking.  You won't find a 3-car garage with pristine epoxy coating, so clean you can eat your dinner off the garage floor. The garage looked barely worthy of hosting a Tesla. There's no infinity pool with waterfall spa or a high-tech home-system hub that is so futuristic it requires you to download an app for the app.  The most updated section of the home was probably a mother-in-law wing with it's own kitchenette, fireplace, and sitting room.  Hardwood floors, sure.  Crown moulding, yup.  But overall, there  was no consistency with the updates. A long, inviting and modern hallway would lead to a 1950s wallpapered bedroom with the old windows in metal casing and hand cranks.

Dilapidated Play Structure

No epoxy coating here.

"Bonus Room"

Here's what $10,000,000 looks like in other areas

$9,995,000 Highland Beach, FL
$9,900,000 Rye, NY
$9,995,000 Harwich Port, MA
In the past 12 months there have been 42 luxury property sales ($2,000,000+) in Santa Cruz County. With close to 50% of those being all cash purchases, the real money is coming in from the Silicon Valley. These "new money," affluent, GenXers expect the latest in updates and amenities. They don't want CAT-5 wiring, they want CAT-6.  Energy efficient systems don't mean anything unless they're plugged into the latest and greatest NEST system to be operated remotely from their iWatch.  No Uber or Lift service in the area? Forget it.

These young, high end buyers are of the mindset, "I want it. I want it now, and I'll pay a premium for it."  Trust me, as a Cupertino-raised and educated person I know how these people think. I grew up with them, went to high school with them, I took my SATs with them. In 2011 tech start-up Punchd was acquired by Google for a $10,000,000+ price.  Niket Desai, one of the developers, hailed from the same high school I attended.

My point is the money is here in Santa Cruz County. It's not just one commuter bus leaving from Scotts Valley; there are multiple commuter buses shuttling high-tech employees to Google, Apple, Netflix, and Yahoo!.  The next $10,000,000 buyer is already eating at Penny Ice Creamery, surfing the waves off 38th Ave, and dining at Suda.  It's not the price tag that scares off the new buyer, it's the horrific lack of updates.  Out with the OLD. In with the MODERN. Let's give them a house they want to spend $10,000,000 on.

On a final parting note.....
The drought doesn't discriminate. Even the uber-wealthy have dead grass. 

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.


Being able to give back to our home community has been a long-standing part of our long-term goals.

In the past, we've made contributions here and there to the Red Cross, American Cancer Society, local sports teams, and donated cash during fundraising drives. 

We've also been regular givers of our time- coaching teams, volunteering weekly at the school, and encouraging our children to join us in local fundraisers.

The goal, though, is to be able to give consistently, regularly and with abundance. At the start of this year, Angel and I made a commitment that for every home we closed we would donate a portion of the proceeds to local schools, with no maximum limit.  It didn't matter what price the home sold for, what our expenses were, or how much time we spent. We would give.

We've started 2015 at a $500 donation amount per sale, to be donated to a local school of the client's choice.  In 2014, we sold 22 homes so we are confident the regular, consistent donation will add up to an amount that can make a difference.

In order to spread the word, Angel has been going door-to-door in the Prospect Heights neighborhood.  He's knocked on about 200 doors so far and has received an overwhelmingly warm response from neighbors, friends, and fellow Delaveaga Elementary families. 

If you see Angel or myself out there, we'd love to say Hi. We're not coming by asking you to sell your house (unless you're interested, of course!)  We're coming by to ask for the community's support in helping spread the word. 

Spread the word, let your coworkers and friends know.  If you, or anyone you know is interested in buying or selling, their sale can help benefit local schools.  If they're already working with a Realtor, encourage them to ask their Realtor to make a contribution to local schools at close.

Give us a call.  We'd also love to hear of any other charities or organizations that would benefit from others giving back.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

The Bull$h!t of Being Busy

We are getting ready to bid farewell to a beautiful summer, usher the kids back to the daily grind of a school schedule, and gear up to throw ourselves into not one- but two!- soccer coaching gigs.  On top of that let’s not forget I also run a business. 

When I visualize Fall, I see nothing but a big, grey cloud of BUSY.  

A stressful juggling act of open houses, soccer games, and client showings.  There will be field trips, home inspections, appraisals, and PTC meetings.  

Perhaps it was the universe tapping me on the shoulder, but as I scrolled through my Facebook feed this week, I came across an article written by a Bay Area former classmate of mine, Jeffrey Chad Shiau.  The title caught my eye.  “The BullShit of Being Busy.”   

The title alone would make you pause, wouldn’t it?

I felt compelled to read it. Would I become enlightened and realize that I wasn’t so “busy” after all? Would this former classmate call me out on my own BullShit? Or would he reaffirm my own feeling that I really am flipping BUSY?!

As I read the Disclaimer:

“Before continuing, let me set one thing straight: if you are parents of three, juggling jobs/day care/school trips, then yes, you have all the right in the world to say, “I’m busy”.”

Hey…. I like this guy! He hit the nail on the head. See…. I am busy!

As I continue to read, there are some particular comments that strike a chord.

“Constantly barking, “Ugh, I’m so busy!” doesn’t make you cooler. It just stresses everyone out. ……  So why has this generation taken the course of constantly complaining and denouncing their own choices with, “I’m so busy,” instead of positively celebrating them with pride?”

There is a war going on in my mind as I’m reading this article. A large part of me says I want to be busy. There is a definite relationship between being busy and making money in real estate. If you’re not busy, it can be the kiss of death. But, I also don’t want to be stressed, and I most definitely don’t want to be a source of stress for others.  

I’ve chosen this profession. I’ve chosen to chaperone that field trip. I’ve chosen to coach soccer. As Jeffrey Shiau so aptly points out, we have chosen our commitments. So I must revisit my visualization of Fall. Rather than see a big grey cloud of BUSY, I am looking forward to a season full of OPPORTUNITY.

I choose to take part in opportunities to be present for my clients, my family and my personal self. I say “YES” to moments that bring joy to my life whether it be my child running down the soccer field, delivering keys to a client, or finally finishing that novel that’s sitting on my bedside table. 

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.

2015 Wharf to Wharf

On this part 4th Sunday in July I joined 16,000 other individuals of all ages, ethnicities, sizes, and talent level to participate in my very first Santa Cruz to Capitola, Wharf to Wharf. I’m embarrassed to say it was my first time participating in this widely popular and well-loved local event. 

Pre Race

My friend, Anna, and I were dropped off at the end of Buena Vista around 7:45am and joined the other masses of people walking over the train trestle down to the Boardwalk.  It wasn’t until we ended up in the massive line for the porta-potties did I realize just how BIG this event was. You think you know what 16,000 people looks like, but you really don’t until you see a group that large herded into 5 different corrals across just a few city blocks.

I distinctly remember having the overwhelming urge to say “moooo, mooooo” while snuggly tucked into the back of Corral 2. I suppressed that urge, of course.

The Start

Ok, I have to admit, the Start was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a live event and heard a gunshot to signal the start of an event. Watching it on TV is different from hearing the sharp “pop!” in real life.  I had imagined the crowds parting and Anna and I comfortably settling into our own special space.  The reality was some bumping,  a lot of “excuse me’s”, and a few almost trips over curbs, all topped with a bit of organized chaos.  Corrals or not, 16,000 people takes a couple miles to spread out.

Mile 1- Exciting

I’m feeling good. Anna and I are holding a steady pace. The first hill up East Cliff along the San Lorenzo River wasn’t as bad as I expected. I understand the benefits of running in a pack. You run faster and it’s much funner. We waved to an overhead drone, listened to a Scottish bag pipe group, and I pointed out to Anna the first apartment Angel and I shared shared. Overall, Mile 1 was exciting.

Mile 2-  Scenic

By chance we happened to pass Anna’s family who had come out to wave at us. Anna briefly gave her daughter a kiss and hug and then we joined the pack once again. We ran past a couple who were wearing awesome T-shirts. His said, “I listen to her.” Hers said, “He listens to me!”  Anna and I both made mental notes to order those T-shirts for our husbands.  

Down Murray, over the Harbor Bridge, past the Crows Nest, and along Twin Lakes Beach, Mile 2 was very scenic.

Mile 3- Halfway

This stretch was relatively flat- Thank God! As someone brand new to this running scene, I was just grateful and happy I had made it to the halfway point. There were kids volunteering at the orange slice station and tons of people lined along the closed streets.  Those orange slices were a godsend. By now, we had found some open space to run.

Mile 4- Rough

Mile 4 was rough. I vaguely remember a band playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That helped. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Anna and I hadn’t run anything more than 4 miles in distance in the entire past year.  I had momentary visions of throwing in the towel, dropping to my knees, and having a full blown adult meltdown.  The balloon arches felt like they were getting farther and farther apart. Who measured these markers?!

Mile 5- Are we there yet?

By now, I think most people around me are feeling the endorphins. Everyone’s smiling. Opal Cliff is lovely and flat. There’s tons of people out along the closed streets with signs and smiles. I briefly think there’s something wrong with me because I am definitely not feeling it. Anna is telling me we are almost there, but I am seriously doubting her. Finally we see the downhill into Capitola Village and then the endorphins decide to kick in.

Post Race

Pictures have been taken, water has been drunk, and now it’s time to mingle and find a good place for a post-race drink (or two!)  Margaritaville had a three hour wait and standing room only in the bar. So we ventured next door to the Sand Bar where we promptly sidled up to the bartender and ordered a round of Bloody Mary’s…… 

Two Bloody Mary’s in and the sprint up the hill to try and catch the shuttle back to Santa Cruz was a definite rookie mistake. 

Count me in for the 2016 Wharf to Wharf. Fourth Sunday of July, Santa Cruz to Capitola is where you’ll find me.

Aimee Thayer-Garcia is a Real Estate Broker Associate at Bailey Properties. She is Top-Producing Agent and practices Real Estate full time with her husband, Angel Garcia. Mom of 3.  831-435-9146.