When it comes to buying a new home, we all have non-negotiables. If proximity to the beach and being able to escape the city’s hustle and bustle without sacrificing everyday comforts are a must for you, then a home in Aptos, CA would be perfect.
Situated in Santa Cruz County, Aptos is an unincorporated town that includes the areas of Rio Del Mar, Seascape and Seacliff. Aptos is known for the historic Aptos Village and for being the gateway to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, which is famous for its redwoods and 30 miles of trails for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers.
Aside from location, timing is an important consideration in the home buying process. For many, house hunting in spring is a no-brainer, but it still pays to know some tips and tricks to navigate home buying in this particular season.
To help you in your search and decision making, I’ve put together a definitive guide to spring home buying and Aptos, CA and Santa Cruz county real estate. I’ve also included fresh intel and market trends specific to real estate in the said locations.
The pros of home buying in spring
Here is a breakdown of some other pros and cons of buying a home and moving during the spring season.
There’s more inventory
Towards April, property listings start to multiply. You will therefore have more choices as a homebuyer. Sellers are more motivated in spring, giving themselves the option to find another residence before the onset of fall. You may also find hidden gems in the form of old listings that have been hibernating in the preceding months.
The timing may be right for families
For those with kids, April and May are ideal home buying months. You can focus on house hunting and moving without having to worry about school pickup or activities. It also makes perfect sense to purchase a new home and move in before school reopens in September. You just have to be mindful that typically, it takes 60 to 90 days to close a listing.
You may have extra cash during spring
Your household budget will have already recovered from Christmas-related expenditures when April rolls around. You may have also received a tax refund from your tax filing. While these may not be significant enough to put a dent in your home down payment, you can certainly use the windfall to take care of expenses related to the house hunting or moving process.
The cons of home buying in spring
Competition may be fierce
You will likely face stiff competition from fellow house hunters eager to close the ideal listing. It just makes sense for demand to rise during spring, given all the benefits of home buying in this season. Unfortunately, the demand may result in bidding wars and generally higher home prices and even moving costs.
Moving just before school starts may be stressful
The need to move in and get settled before school starts may force you to compromise and hastily close what’s readily available. This results in a stressful home buying experience that can last until your first few months in your new property.
The people who can help you with the home buying and moving process are busier in spring compared with the winter season. They include real estate agents, home appraisers, and loan officers. Moving company rates are also higher in spring compared with winter. These may be minor considerations, but should nonetheless factor in your house hunting plan.
Getting an edge over the competition
Despite some disadvantages, spring is still widely regarded as the best time to go house hunting. If you’ve decided to go ahead and buy a house in spring, you will need to come up with a strategy to gain an advantage over the competition.
Determine when spring starts in your neck of the woods
You need to recognize that although March is officially the beginning of spring, the spring home buying period varies depending on where you live. In warmer climates, this may mean being able to house hunt from January to May while in northern cities, you may only have about a month of spring home buying.
Get a local real estate specialist
It pays to enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent, who should also be a neighborhood specialist. By ensuring that your agent is a local expert, you will get up-to-date information and intel on your chosen area. Agents with enough experience are able to show you as many listings as you need to view.
Make a list
A common mistake that homebuyers make is to focus on the seller, and not on the actual home. To simplify the process, list down your requirements and decide on which location works best for you. Other details, such as whether the house is a foreclosure or is being sold by a traditional seller, matter much less than your non-negotiables.
Focus on the value of the home
When negotiating and making an offer, focus more on how much the home is truly worth rather than on getting a deal. Sometimes, you may even need to pay more than the list price to get an edge over other prospective buyers.
A good tool to employ is competitive market analysis (CMA), which your agent can help you with. This analysis provides you with insight on the actual value of a home, based on comparable sales. Ultimately, what counts as a good deal is when you can get the house that you want at a price you can afford, irrespective of whether that price is the lowest that the seller can offer.
When buying a new home, it is crucial to have your ducks in a row financially. Unless you’re paying cash, get pre-approved for a mortgage by having a lender review your finances to determine whether you are qualified for a loan. Sellers see this as a sign that you’re not just window shopping and are serious about making a purchase. This also assures the seller that you’ll be able to make the payments.
Shop for mortgage lenders
Make sure that you speak to at least three to five mortgage lenders to ensure that you’re getting the best rate. This is all the more important amid rising and fluctuating mortgage rates. For instance, different lenders could offer rates as much as half a percentage point higher or lower.
Trust your instincts
Finally, don’t disregard the importance of your intuition. Often, your gut will tell you whether you are making the right decision. Consider the pros and cons and devise a plan and strategy, but don’t forget to trust your gut whether you’re a first-time buyer or a more seasoned house hunter.
For more information on the home buying process, check out this link, which provides key decision-making advice and information, from deciding and preparing to buy to moving in.
Latest Aptos, CA real estate listings
Now that you have a plan to get a leg up on the competition, you’re now in a position to check out some listings. Here are some of the best properties available, ranging from condos to beach houses, for sale in Aptos, CA. The link also includes further details on Aptos, CA real estate and the city’s communities and features.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, Amber Melenudo, via my website. I’d be happy to work with you and share my expertise and experience as a top producing agent in Santa Cruz County as well as this county’s resident for over 20 years. I also invite you to check out full real estate profile.
Insights on Aptos, CA and Santa Cruz County real estate market
It’s always wise to check out current market trends and the latest outlook when it comes to home buying. Just like any other year, spring remains a popular time for house hunting. There will be strong demand for real estate once again, house prices are predicted to soar, and there will be dreaded bidding wars.
Across the US, mortgage rates are higher this year compared with the previous year. Despite this increase, homes are reportedly selling at greater speeds, by up to 6 days faster than a year ago.
In Santa Cruz County, the following trends will affect spring home buying:
Low supply and intense demand
Santa Cruz County has been characterized by low housing stock even before the pandemic, which led to even lower home inventories over the last two years due to supply chain disruptions and shortages in labor across the US.
Last December 2021, the number of single-family homes for sale in the county hit its lowest point in two years – only 72 single-family homes entered the market during this month on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
In the first week of January 2022, only 75 homes were available in any price range – anywhere in the US. This was caused by exceptional buyer demand that led to low supply, and not by a lack of homes. Inventory is predicted to rise this year, but shortages are also expected. Therefore, it’s best to hire a local expert to get a leg up on available homes for sale in Aptos, CA and Santa Cruz County.
Rising interest rates
The Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates several times this year, causing mortgage rates to rise. Industry pundits say that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate would reach as much as 4.77% by year-end. This figure may even need to be revisited given the rising rates we’ve already started to observe.
Naturally, purchasing power declines when mortgage rates rise. Buyers normally lose about 4 to 5% in purchasing power for every 0.5% mortgage rate increase.
Before that happens, act now. Check out Aptos, CA real estate listings and browse current houses for sale in Santa Cruz County.
Expect bidding wars
It will continue to be a seller’s market given economic trends that include limited supply and high demand. The work-from-home phenomenon further adds to the demand for new homes. These factors push buyers to participate in bidding wars over spring and summer, the usual home buying peak seasons.
While home price growth will slow down per analysts, home prices in general won’t decrease, so buyers need to prepare for this. To compound matters, inflation fears have surfaced due to the 7% inflation rate in December 2021, the highest it’s been since 1982.
Get a headstart on the competition. Choose from Aptos, CA real estate listings and buy homes for sale in Santa Cruz County today.
Millennials to face home buying challenges
Many in the millennial generation (born 1981-1996) are first-time homebuyers. They will continue to experience challenges related to procuring property compared with prior generations. In the US, millennials are likely to seek financial support from family and friends to come up with a down payment.
Greater need to prepare for house hunting and financing
Preparation is key when it comes to home buying this year. Homebuyers must closely watch the market and enlist the help of a local Realtor to obtain the best advice and intel on property listings. Connecting with a lender early on is also a must. These days, it’s important for homebuyers to do research while acting fast to get their desired property.
Outlook on property purchase in 2022
Other key figures that homebuyers may wish to consider as they crunch their numbers and plan for their real estate purchase include:
- Median sales prices continue to rise. For single-family, resale homes, the median sales price was up 11.5% year-over-year last month.
- There were 167 homes sold in Santa Cruz County last month. This is above the average of 157 homes sold per month since 2000.
- Inventory is up for the second month in a row, after being down 28 months in a row. This represents a gain of 10.9% compared to April.
- In April 2022, the median list price and median sold price of homes in Aptos, CA was $1.4 million.
- In Santa Cruz County, the median sold price of homes was $1.3 million compared to the median list price of $1.2 million in April 2022.
- 40 condos were sold in Santa Cruz County in April 2022.
- The average sales price of condos rose 37%, a record high.
- Condominium sales were down 24.5% year-over-year.
New real estate and mortgage requirements
Before buying a home, keep abreast of new real estate and mortgage guidelines that affect the general home buying process and their unique situations. Many house hunters understandably focus on housing demand and supply and mortgage rates, however, it pays to see how changes to loan guidelines, for example, can affect their ability to finance their home.
Relaxed guidelines for self-employed borrowers
Mortgage loan companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased documentation requirements for self-employed borrowers early in the pandemic, to ensure that the borrowers had stable income and could afford their mortgage. Beginning February 2, 2022, the additional paperwork is no longer required. Mortgage lenders no longer ask for current year-to-date profit and loss statements and analyses of three months’ worth of bank statements (to ensure consistency between gross deposits and income from the previous year).
New ways to assess creditworthiness
Freddie Mac announced the rollout of a new automated income assessment tool for mortgage lenders. The tool allows lenders to better assess potential homebuyers’ creditworthiness through direct deposit information from bank accounts (instead of pay stub copies or other forms of income verification). Borrowers can also provide mortgage lenders access to their employer and tax return data to be factored in the assessment. All these result in lower costs, less errors, and faster loan application evaluation.
New condo loan requirements
To help protect condo borrowers, lenders are now required to perform additional due diligence when approving condo units for mortgage loans. This involves asking condo associations for information to ensure that the condominium is safe, sound, has structural integrity, and habitable.
Navigate the Aptos, CA and Santa Cruz County housing market with Amber Melenudo
If you’re thinking of moving to Aptos, CA or Santa Cruz County, find a real estate agent that knows the market inside and out.
Hi, I’m Amber Melenudo and I’ve lived in Santa Cruz County for more than 20 years. As your real estate agent, I can tell you exactly what you need to know about living and thriving here. With every interaction, you’ll not only find the best properties available, you’ll also learn a little more about the new place you’ll be calling home.
My goal is to be a true advocate for you, staying in constant communication and guiding you all throughout the buying process. My in-depth knowledge of the market allows me to anticipate problems before they arise and come fully prepared with solutions to every situation.