Picking up in the early ‘90s…our market was in a huge downturn

Tom Brezsny
- Tom Brezsny

Picking up in the early ‘90s…our market was in a huge downturn

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. And for better or worse, how our close proximity to one of the most rarefied regions in the world continues to shape the three big- gest concerns on everyone’s short list: housing, jobs and traffic.

Picking up in the early ‘90s…our market was in a huge downturn between 1990 and 1993. Most locals thought it was the earthquake that did the market in but the truth was, things had already peaked six months prior to the events of October 17th.

There was a national recession and the market was down everywhere. When prices around San Jose softened, more of those buyers who had fueled price increases in Santa Cruz in the late ‘80s gravitated back towards the epicenter of the tech economy. Why? Because they could.

The inventory of homes here rose to all time highs and levels that haven’t been seen since. Price reductions were common. Days on market more so. It wasn’t unusual for it to take six months to a year to sell a property. All unthinkable by today’s standards. It was a tough time to be a Realtor. There were a lot of lonely open houses.

So what happened? The economy started to grind its way out of the recession and Silicon Valley woke up and roared back to life. Tech companies went on an unprecedented hiring binge between 1993 and 1995.

One of the seminal periods in the evolution of Silicon Valley came next, as a huge increase in the number of H-1B visas brought an influx
of tech workers from all over the world. The complexion of Silicon Valley changed and as the flood of new, higher paying workers settled in, Santa Cruz County saw a steady stream coming its way.

Along the way, there was also a shift in the way real estate values were distributed throughout the County. Prior to1995, Aptos was consid- ered the most likely place executive-level wage earners would want to live. As more techies chose to live on this side of the hill, Hwy 1 began to resemble the afternoon parking lot we know today. And as traffic delays increased, there was a notable shift in real estate values away from Aptos and towards Scotts Valley.

Suddenly more people wanted to live on the Scotts Valley side of the fishhook. Today, most of the young buyers working for companies like Apple or Google already know they don’t want to live any further south than the Mor- rissey exit, before they even start looking.


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