Seb Frey

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News and Views about Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Real Property in Santa Cruz, California

HGTV wants to help you renovate your Santa Cruz home

April 11, 2013

Today I had a missed call on my cell phone, from the 212 area code – that’s the Big Apple, if you’re not familiar.  I figured it was a telemarketer or someone looking for money – not to be judgmental, I think a lot of us are looking for money.  But I got a voicemail, and when I had a few minutes, I checked it…and there was an unusual message, from a lady working for HGTV.


Not familiar with HGTV?  Ask my wife, she’ll tell you – I’m a HGTV junkie.  HGTV stands for Home and Garden Television, and they produce such wonderful shows such as House Hunters, Property Brothers, Love it or List It, Design It, and many others.  I “Tivo” a number of their shows and watch them in the wee hours when no one’s around to see…a guilty pleasure.

I called the lady back, and it turns out that HGTV is working on a new home renovation series – they are looking for first-time vacation-home purchasers who are about to renovate their new investment into a beach rental/getaway and use the rents to help cover the repair cost.  I was told that HGTV will contribute up to $20,000 for the repair, but whatever amount they contribute must be at least matched by the home owner.  In addition, they will donate about $10K worth of products, paid for I assume by the sponsors of the show.

They are looking for projects in towns like Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Aptos…priced between $400K and $600K.  That’s going to be a tough call of course finding a home in that price range in our area, but that’s another story.

If you or someone you know has a project that might work for the show, check out this page on the HGTV web site.

If you know of a good candidate for this, please contact me (my contact info is all over my web page) and I can put you directly in touch with the HGTV representative.

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Posted by Administrator at 4:10pm
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Happy New Year 2013!

January 04, 2013

To all my friends, family, colleagues and clients I want to wish you a happy and heartfelt new year!  Check out this brief video message I have on YouTube, just click on the image below:

Happy new year 2013

2012 was a challenging year for a lot of us, but I’m feeling very positive about 2013 – I hope you are too!

All the best,

Seb siganture

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Posted by Administrator at 9:32am
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How to Sell Your House for More Than It’s Worth

May 30, 2012

If you have a house that you need to sell, I’m going to bet that you’ll be wanting to get the most amount of money you can get for it – can I hear a boo-yeah, Amen to that brother?  Wanting to sell your house for top-dollar is a given, right? That is, after all, why you hire a professional Realtor as opposed to just putting a sign in the front lawn and trying to sell it yourself – yes?

So we are agreed – when you go to sell your house, you’re aiming to sell it for top dollar.  But what just does “top dollar” mean?  To me, “top dollar” means selling your house for 100% of fair market value – getting every dollar for your that your property is worth.

Now it’s time to ask – do you think it’s possible to sell your house for much more than fair market value?  Is it possible you could get a buyer to pay you substantially more for your property than what it’s really worth?

Most sellers will agree that it’s not likely they will be able to find a buyer who will wildly over-pay for their home.  But does that mean they won’t try?  Sadly enough, many sellers do in fact try to start much higher than the indicated market value for a property – and then, through a series of price cuts, eventually end up selling for a lot less than they initially asked – and, usually, less than they would have received had they priced the property correctly from the get-go.

Why is that, you ask?  The reason is simple:  new listings get the most attention in the market.  When a property first hits the market, there will be a lot of eyeballs on it.  If the property is overpriced, buyers won’t make appointments to see it, they’ll skip the open houses, they won’t write offers.  Serious buyers – the ones who are pre-approved, have been looking for months, know the market cold – will see an over-priced listing come on, recognize it as such, and promptly forget about it.  Coming onto the market too far over fair market value is a sure-fire way to blow your very best chance to sell for top dollar as the very best buyers for your property will be ignoring it.

The fewer buyers who are looking at your property means there will be fewer offers, at lower prices, from less qualified buyers.  Fewer buyers and fewer offers almost always means less money for the seller.

So why would a seller want to price their property such as to virtually guarantee the best buyers will ignore it, and instead keep the property on the market for months with successive price cuts, to eventually end up working with one weak, low-ball buyer who chisels them down still further on price?

It beats the hell out of me.  But I see it happen all the time.

You want to get top dollar for your property?  Unless it’s truly a unique, one-of-a-kind property for which there are very few buyers anyway, the formula is quite simple:  price your home just a bit under market, and give your home adequate market exposure before reviewing offers.  This way, instead of working with just one buyer, you the seller will have the luxury of working with several buyers who are ready, willing, and able to compete against each other to buy your property – even if it means they might have to pay a bit over what they’d consider fair market value.

This is the only way anyone can reasonably expect to sell their house for more than it’s worth.

There now – I’ve spilled the beans, you know the secret! If you want to know how much your home is worth (provided it’s in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, or Monterey counties!), head on over to my web site, for a free, no-obligation PinPoint Price Analysis of your home.

If you – or anyone you know – are thinking about selling your house, you’ll also want to grab a copy of my Insider’s Guide to Selling Your Home in Santa Cruz – recently updated for 2012!  You can request a copy over on this page of my site.


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Posted by Administrator at 6:58pm
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Santa Cruz Real Estate Forecast 2012

January 12, 2012

It’s a new year, so it’s time to blow the dust off the ol’ blog and provide to all those who find it with an update on the Santa Cruz Real Estate market for 2012.  But before we get too far into 2012, let’s discuss oh-so-briefly how we did in 2011.  Perhaps it’s no surprise, but we ended 2011 with a median home price that’s down 7.2% to $485,000 as compared to the December 2010 median home price of $522,500.  But that’s a lot better than the median home price in November – which hit bottom at $416,500, the lowest median price of the year.  In fact, every month of 2011, single-family home prices were lower in 2011 than they were in the same month the previous year, with the exception of June (which was up 5.3% over the previous June).

Crystal ball

It is pretty clear that 2011 was not a great year for real estate in Santa Cruz – but then, it wasn’t a great year anywhere, except for a few neighborhoods where a handful of newly minted dot-com millionaires are looking for digs.

Of course, the kind of price declines we saw in 2011 were mild compared to what we had seen in years past, when the market dropped with dizzying speed.  Clearly, the rate of decrease has slowed down, which I think all will agree is a positive sign.

To check out all kinds of whizzy charts and graphs for our market, check out my Santa Cruz Real Estate Market Data page – you can slice the data many different ways.

What does all this mean for 2012?  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have been pretty bearish on the real estate market for the past several years.  I remember back in 2008 and 2009 hearing so many Realtors and talking heads on television and in the print media predicting that a turn-around was coming, and that 2008 and 2009 – or for that matter, 2010 and 2011 – were great times to buy real estate.  Turns out, that would only have been true if you didn’t mind buying a depreciating asset class – and who really wants to do that?

I’ve been saying for years – if you’re going to buy a home in Santa Cruz, buy with caution.  I’ve been saying there is no rush to buy, the market is still in decline.

Now, though, I’m about to change my tune, just a little.  I think that the evidence is mounting which would indicate that we are approaching the bottom of the housing bust.  Why do I think this?  I point my finger right at the economy.  The economy finally seems to be gathering strength.  My feeling – and that’s all I have for you, dear reader, just my gut feeling – is that there are going to be more buyers out there is year than last, and this will be enough to put the real estate market on firmer footing.

There is no doubt that there are many risks and unknowns out there – what happens if the economy weakens?  Well, then, all bets are off.  What if interest rates pick up?  If the economy heats up, interest rates probably will rise, especially if Europe gets its act together – but interest rates will not likely rise by much, and will still remain low overall.


There’s an 800 pound gorilla in the closet, of course – that would be the dreaded shadow inventory.  What happens if the banks decide to just say aww to heck with it and foreclose on everyone and flood the market?  After much thought on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that this is simply not going to happen.  There may be a small rise in foreclosures in 2012 as compared to 2011, but not enough to make much of a difference I don’t think.  Nationwide, there are millions of loans in some stage of default still – and California is #3 in the nation in terms of foreclosures per capita (or household, rather).  The situation we have today, is the one we’ll have tomorrow – and for the rest of this year, and probably the next, and quite likely for a number of years to come.

This “shadow inventory” will be released slowly, and it won’t all be REO (foreclosed, bank-owned real estate) – some will be REO, some will be short sales, and some people will have their loans modified such that homeowners can hang on to their homes but still be seriously underwater on the mortgage – a precarious situation and not something anyone should be too happy about.

Indeed, it is precisely the fact that there is so much distressed inventory out there that home prices will remain “low” for some time to come – there will be a large pool of sellers who can and will be selling below market value, if only just – and these sellers are going to be around, albeit in gradually diminishing numbers, for years to come.

What’s the bottom line?  Bottom line – for buyers, is this:  if you’re in the market to buy some property in Santa Cruz, or pretty much anywhere in California – I don’t think you need to worry about your investment going down in value (much).  Conversely, I don’t think anyone should be buying property with the notion that the market will have a rapid rebound, and you’ll be able to turn the property over in a couple of years for a tidy profit and move up to something bigger and better.  But I think that 2012 will prove to be a safe time to buy – finally, after many years.

What’s the bottom line for sellers?  The good news here is that I believe you’ll finally see an end to the decline of your home’s value.  The bad news is, I don’t see much improvement in the market overall for sellers – I think it is still going to be tough, there will still be lots of distressed-sales to compete against this year and for some years to come.  I do not see price appreciation coming back in any significant way any time soon – so if you’ve been waiting for a market rebound, before planning to sell, I think you’ve still got a long wait in front of you.  Selling today is probably going to get you the same for your property as it will 2-3 years from now.

Want to know what your Santa Cruz home is worth?  Click here for a free, custom Santa Cruz Real Estate Home Price Report!

Clearly, there are many challenges out there for housing still.  But at the risk of sounding like one of those Realtors who just loves to hype the housing market, let me just say – I think the worst is behind us.  Going forward, I’m sure the road will be rocky and we’ll run into a few ups and downs along the way, but I bet when we look back at 2012, we’ll think of it as the year when things finally started getting better.


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Posted by Administrator at 5:33pm
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Giving this Thanksgiving

November 22, 2011

It’s not just the economy that’s in the dumps.  It seems that people’s spirits are really down, too.  This year the summer was unusually cold and foggy, and our cherished Indian Summer went by in the blink of an eye.  Our famous autumn season has likewise proven to be abnormally wet and cold, and it seems as though everything used to be better.  Or is it just me?


As I write this, Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away.  I have a lot to be thankful for – we welcomed our second child into the world back in September – Evan Armando, and he’s perfect.  Our first son is now two and a half years old, and while at the moment he has a raging cold and could barely talk a couple of days ago, generally speaking he’s very happy and healthy, and this too is a blessing.

But times are tough, there’s no denying that.  I am sure a lot of people are feeling more than a little pinch from the protracted downturn in the economy – and the crash in housing prices is, I am sure, doing nothing to help people feel secure and prosperous.

A lot of people, though, are feeling more than a pinch from the economy – and for many, housing prices are totally irrelevant, as they don’t even have a roof over their heads – they might consider themselves lucky if they have a dry spot under a bridge.

So in this holiday time, I remind you to please keep your heart and wallet open for those of us – a growing number of us – who are facing real hardship. When you see a collection going around for Second Harvest Food Bank, or Toys for Tots, when you see the Salvation Army bell ringers collecting money – be generous.  There’s a lot of hunger out there, and anything you can give will help.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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