Coast Life

‘A lot of full-cash offers right now’: Seabright ‘tiny home’ fetches a cool $1M amid multiple offers

After only four days on the market, a 328-square-foot home in Seabright sold for over $1 million, following five competitive offers and a packed open-house weekend. According to listing agent Walter Stauss, who’s sold homes in the area for nearly 25 years, it’s a sign of the demand vastly outpacing the supply: “There’s a huge pressure on the inventory.”

A seemingly idyllic beach bungalow came on the market from Coldwell Banker Realty just over a week ago. The 328-square-foot home is a one-bedroom, one-bath, on a 3,833-foot parcel just steps away from Seabright Beach, and all with a deck overlooking the spacious backyard.

But it was the price tag on the tiny vintage bungalow built in 1948 that really got locals buzzing: It was listed at $988,000 and sold a mere four days later for $1.025 million.

It’s a sign that the first dip in the county’s median home prices in months in September was not a trend in the making.

In fact it’s a continued sign of the pressures on the local real estate market, said listing agent Walter Stauss, who has sold homes full-time throughout Santa Cruz County for the past 25 years. While demand has generally gone up over the past few decades, Stauss believes the problem now is the lack of supply — which makes homes like this one highly sought after, and commanding of a surprisingly robust sum.

“This market kind of got crazy about two years ago, with an increase in demand from the Bay Area,” he said. “They were much less price-sensitive and also had a lot more cash — there are a whole lot more full-cash offers right now.”

Long shot of a kitchen — stove on left and counters on right — looking into a living room.
A view of the home’s kitchen, looking into the living room. At 328-square-feet, the Seabright one-bedroom is fairly compact.
(Courtesy of Walter Stauss, Coldwell Banker Realty)

For this particular home, Stauss noted that there were a total of five offers, with one being a full cash offer. Stauss said this trend has been on the upswing for the past few years, putting more pressure on properties close to the Pacific Ocean, which in turn affects homes farther inland in Santa Cruz County.

“There’s just not enough inventory for everybody,” he said. “There’s not enough to go around.”

As soon as the property went live on the market Oct. 22, with an open house Oct. 24, Stauss and the seller had already garnered substantial interest; they closed the offer date period on Oct. 26. Stauss said the buyer — who was excited to move in as quickly as possible — has purchased the home as his primary dwelling.

In response to a news report from KSBW-TV last Friday, hundreds of local Santa Cruzans expressed their disappointment in the home price via Facebook. “No longer an affordable place to live for most of our younger generation, sad,” one woman said. Another noted: “The right price is whatever any fool is willing to pay for.”

Stauss said these trends aren’t a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but noted the pandemic has put more pressure on buyers to act frantically in their home search, rushing to put in offers often substantially above asking. It’s added another layer of difficulty for Santa Cruzans looking for homes amid competition from buyers seeking second homes and the strain the UC Santa Cruz student population puts on housing.

Dirt backyard, looking up toward the home's deck
The Seabright home is a one-bedroom, one-bath, but there’s room to expand.
(Courtesy of Walter Stauss, Coldwell Banker Realty)

As for what this particular home and its selling price could mean for the future of the Santa Cruz market, Stauss worries less about the real estate and instead focuses on the impact on Santa Cruz society.

“How’s this all going to work, in this crazy market?” he asked. “It’s hard on everybody.”

With the influx from Silicon Valley, Stauss hopes newcomers will incorporate themselves into the fabric of Santa Cruz. He also hopes that the supply and demand discrepancies are addressed so there isn’t as much “us vs. them” mentality in the market moving forward.

“People resent that they can’t afford a house here anymore, and they think there are very definite reasons for why that has happened,” he said. “I would much rather have prices back where they were 20 or 30 years ago … it was easier to make more people happy.”

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