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Buying a Luxury Home in Santa Cruz County


Looking to buy a luxury home in Santa Cruz? For an area where the average sales price of regular homes is over $1.4m, there is a surprising lack of new luxury homes in Santa Cruz County. One of the reasons for this is the sheer difficulty and cost associated with building new construction in Santa Cruz. That said, if you know where to look, you can find your very own dream luxury home in whatever flavor suits you best.


Let's talk about gated communities. Santa Cruz is remarkable in that many of its most expensive luxury properties are not located in gated communities. If privacy and security are very important to you, here are a few gated communities to consider:

  • Woods Cove (located off Graham Hill Rd just outside of Santa Cruz)

  • Los Barancos (located in La Selva Beach)

  • Rio Surf and Sand (located on Beach Drive in Rio Del Mar)

  • Las Olas (Seacliff)

  • The Seascape Uplands (you guessed it - in Seascape)

  • Potbelly Beach (New Brighton)

  • Pasatiempo Golf Course

Keep in mind many of these are developments so most of the homes in these areas tend to be luxury, albeit cookie-cutter and subject to HOA restrictions.

It is important to note that high-end one-of-a-kind luxury homes can be found in almost any area of Santa Cruz County. That said, here are some other neighborhoods to consider that are known for having luxury homes:

  • Depot Hill (Capitola)

  • Anywhere within a block of the coast - see East Cliff and West Cliff Drives

  • Westlake and Moore Creek Estates (Upper Westside of Santa Cruz)

  • Carbonera (near Pasatiempo)

  • Ocean View Avenue (Midtown)

  • Opal Cliffs/Pleasure Point (1st/2nd row from the cliff)

  • Mainsail Place and Panorama Drive (Soquel)

  • Benson Drive (near Santa Cruz Gardens)

Tips for buying a luxury home in Santa Cruz:

  • If getting a loan, consider going through a big bank that might be able to offer a very attractive low interest rate for carrying a high balance.

  • If new construction is your thing, have your realtor set up an MLS search for new construction only. Your real estate agent can also search for recently sold lots in high-end areas, as these are likely to be developed soon and construction may already be underway.

  • The best local realtors are in the know about coming soon projects. Certain builders are known for building new-construction spec homes and almost always have something coming soon. This is a great way to also buy a luxury home before it ever becomes available to the general public.

  • Pay attention to the Coastal Commission as they highly regulate homes in the coastal zone and may try to pass unfavorable laws. For instance, they previously proposed allowing oceanfront properties to only be remodeled once EVER (not once per owner). Although this rule is not currently in effect, it is important to stay informed through watch dog agencies such as Smart Coast California.

  • If you plan to rent your home out as a vacation rental to help cover costs and property taxes, make sure you are allowed to. Click here to read about Santa Cruz County's Vacation Rental Ordinance.

We know you love them, so here are some stats on luxury properties listed for sale in Santa Cruz this year:

  • So far in 2022, there have been 99 homes listed for sale over $3m in Santa Cruz County (compared to 75 in 2021)

  • Of these homes the average size was 4 bed/4bath and 3,491 SF

  • The average price per square foot of these homes was $1,507/SF

  • The average days on market "DOM" of these houses was 58 days

  • Of the 99 homes listed for sale, 19 were pulled from market and did not sell (this means they may still be available!)

If buying a luxury home in Santa Cruz is your dream, reach out to us today at 831.419.5852 with any questions or to start the search! Our team can make suggestions based on your unique criteria to find you that one-of-a-kind dream property.