The Aptos real estate market, found in Santa Cruz County, continued to face disappointing news and statistics in the last two months. Foreclosures continued to exert a disproportionate influence over the Aptos housing market, and the median sales price in Santa Cruz County spiraled downwards in both January and February 2011. In early 2010, the median price in the County was $500,000 – Santa Cruz has always had much higher average property values and prices than the rest of the state, partially by virtue of its location. However, in the two most recent tracking periods, the median sales price fell to just $450,000, falling closer to the lowest recorded figure for February, which is $380,000. The decline in sales price is largely attributable to the preponderance of foreclosures in the region. The Santa Cruz Record reports a total of more than three thousand foreclosures over the last two years. Since foreclosures and short sales are routinely sold for more than the average sales price or property value, the fact that foreclosures are so common helps to depress median price.
One clear sign of distressed properties’ influence on the market is the percentage of purchased properties that were at some stage of the foreclosure process. For instance, in February 2011, out of the 95 properties that changed hands, fully 48 percent of them were either short sales or bank foreclosures. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, 57 percent of the condominiums sold over the same time period were in the same situation. There is one potential bright spot for Aptos real estate – the number of new foreclosure filings in February was well below the volume reached last year. While February 2010 saw 400 notices of default, there were ‘only’ 300 in February 2011. This may be an indicator of a potential backlog in banks attempting to offload foreclosures, or alternatively a testament to how many property owners are choosing to execute short sales before the foreclosure process is complete. Still, since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008, nearly 8,000 properties have been foreclosed upon throughout Santa Cruz County, with a cumulative value of approximately four billion dollars.