1996… Silicon Valley was on a hiring binge

Tom Brezsny
- Tom Brezsny

1996… Silicon Valley was on a hiring binge

Continuing the conversation…strolling down memory lane, looking at the Santa Cruz real estate market and how its relationship with Silicon Valley has changed over the last 30 years.

We left off as the market was heading into 1996…Silicon Valley was on a hiring binge and HB-1 tech visas were maxed out. The entire Bay Area was filling up with more new people coming from parts unknown outside the area.

All those people and jobs accelerated things on both sides of the hill. Here on the coast, prices had already recovered from the steep down- turn of the early ‘90s and now, fueled by a rush of new tech jobs, they were on a renewed trajectory upward.

As an Agent, the market in the mid ‘90s was one of my all-time favorites. Buyers and sellers were in good spirits. The market was balanced and there was a fair amount of give and take in most transactions (unlike the lopsided, over- the-top Sellers’ market of these last six years).

Best of all, a surprising number of home purchases were being made by first-time buyers who had landed good jobs over the hill and didn’t mind the drive. The surge in rookie homeowners was a boon to our neighbor- hoods. The new blood brought an infusion of sweat equity and pride of ownership in to transform some of the tired, old rental stock that had seen better days.

The early decade downturn of the ‘90s had ac- tually opened the market up to more deserving folks who had been priced out in the frenzy of the late ‘80s. If you bought your current home between 1993 and 1997, you were probably one of those people. But then…as Silicon Valley shifted into the hyper-drive of the dot. com era, the market also launched like a rocket ship into a brave new world.

Even though everyone said we’d never see an- other market with the intensity of the late ‘80s, they were wrong. Prior to the late ‘90s Santa Cruz never really had multiple offers. Maybe a few competitive offers here and there on select beach properties, but never an entire market that considered multiple offers a normal part of the process.

Santa Cruz prices had also never broken the magic million dollar mark before 1997, but that started to change too. In 1997 and 1998, we saw our first handful of single family sales that exceeded the million dollar milestone. And as dot.com mania swung into high gear, so did the market on the coast as increasing numbers of young 30-something tech entre- preneurs, flush with stock options burning a hole in their pockets, began to scour neighbor- hoods by the beach.

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