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Humboldt County Marketplace News

Humboldt County, CA Listings: Eureka, Arcata, Trinidad, McKinleyville, Orick, Fortuna, Ferndale, Lolita, Rio Dell, Redway, Garberville, Blue Lake, Willow Creek, Fieldbrook

© Joshua Kinch, Sweet Home Realty, Arcata, CA
Housing prices in Humboldt County, California - January 2010

Here is an overview of the Real Estate Market in Humboldt County at this time.
Prior to 1988, the road system leading to Humboldt County had large stretches of windy 2 lane highway. This, along with Humboldt's relative isolation from large population centers, became known as the "Redwood Curtain". It acted to keep our population growth down. For the past 15 years, Cal Trans has invested millions of dollars to tear down the "Redwood Curtain", straightening the road, converting much of it to freeway, and generally, making access easier. That has led to a slow but steady chippoing away at our isolation.

Critical Mass. At the present time, enough people with good incomes have moved here to have resulted in a new Humboldt; one no longer totally dependent on logging and fishing (both of which are in decline). The standard of living has risen, and the number of amenities has as well. We are the last California Coastal College Community (Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods) where housing is still affordable (think Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma County, etc.) Our "aggravation level" is low as well (no blazing heat or traffic jams).

People have discovered Humboldt County.
Outside Magazine selected Eureka/Arcata as one of the top 10 towns for outdoor activities. Utne Reader selected Arcata as on of the 10 Most Enlightened Towns in America. American Demographics Magazine selected Humboldt County as THE top county in America (based largely on geographical features).

It is nice here. Larger than several of the smaller states, we have a population of less than 130,000, an amazing variety of social and physical microclimates. We are an independent, intelligent population. Earthy.

All areas have seen dramatic rises. Eureka was always a place to get a bargain but now is appreciated for its solid neighborhoods and older home charm. Many greenbelts behind the homes as well. Arcata is popular for its liberal atmosphere and new age community. Trinidad has continued to lead the way with its quiet, ocean front setting. All the surrounding areas where there are homes with land or with privacy are extremely popular.

Locally, our Real Estate market remains strong, although, it must be noted, it has experienced a downturn in prices as a result of the general change in activity in our State. In the past few years, there have been multiple offers, and low inventory, things which typically indicdate a Sellers Market. While the slowdown has yet to become a full on Buyers Market, the trend is definetly favoring buyers, as price reductions are common, and bidding wars much less frequent.

Quality properties, with land, charm, views, ocean front, are remaining popular. Luckily for those entering the marketplace, or working with a budget, prices are dropping, and at the very least, sellers must now make concessions, which a year ago were unthought of. Investors will still struggle with the gross rent multipliers, as rental units, with the cost of taxes, vacancies and upkeep, will still not produce the highly desired positive cashflow.

Taxes, following the dramatic run up of prices, are now a major consideration to investors and homebuyers in general.
At $250 to $600 and up per month, (1% of the purchase price), they can make the difference in buying or not buying for many people.

Speculative purchases are vanishing, as there are no more overnight windfalls-the recent correction in the real estate market brought appreciation back to more traditional slow, but steady, levels.

Not having a crystal ball to use, we feel as uncertain as everyone about our real estate prices. We do share our feeling that our area is poised for greatness, as our "amenity levels are high, and our aggravation levels are low". Places like Humboldt County, places with water and and interesting things to do, are continuing to be popular destinations for those fleeing the cities and also baby boomers retiring. With climate change producing potentially deadly summer heat, our coastal climate is also going to become more and more of an asset.

In conclusion, potential new residents will probably be surprised at how high the prices are here, as our semi rural county leads many to believe that we should be ripe for the pickin'. We remind them, that we are still dramtically more affordable than any similar California Coastal College town, and that prices have risen dramatically nationally. Call us for our take on the market, and our experienced, professional advice. We aspire to being experts, not mere sales people, and look forward to your call.

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