Marina >> The newest major housing development on the Monterey Peninsula, Sea Haven (formerly Marina Heights), has sold more than 50 homes since sales began just a few months ago on land that was once Fort Ord.
Even in the face of a new report suggesting a cooling market, both Wathen Castonos Homes and Renasci Homes, the builders of the first three neighborhoods at the development, said they are not feeling the effects of that conclusion at all.
“We’ve sold 51 homes to date, about 10 a month, since we opened in June,” said Peter Castanos, owner/vice president of Wathen Castonos. “We haven’t felt that” effect of pending home sales dropping 16.9 percent in Monterey County.
According to a survey by the California Association of Realtors, pending home sales fell markedly across California in September, with the largest regional drop-off occurring in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Sea Haven community had not yet started construction during the study’s reporting period, but the community still considers generating almost $50 million in year-to-date sales revenue a milestone. The new houses generate about $40,000 to $45,000 in revenue for local and county coffers apiece.
Sea Haven sits on the northern portion of what was once the Fort Ord Army base. The site is flanked by Imjin Parkway to the south, California Avenue to the west, Preston Park to the east, and established neighborhoods of Marina to the north.
Upon build-out, the development will add about 1,000 new housing units, including single-family homes, townhouses, and cottages. The 248-acre site will also include 35 acres of parks, greenbelts and open space.
Castanos’ company is building the Layia and Villosa neighborhoods, while Renasci is building the Larkspur neighborhood, with more homes and development on the horizon.
The Layia community is priced in the high $600,000s to the high $700,000s and range in size from 1,800 to 2,700 square feet. Villosa is priced from the low to high $800,000s and the homes are 2,300 to 3,400 square feet.
Castanos said he thinks a combination of location — to the ocean and Dunes shopping center — and a tight housing supply, helps the Sea Haven development maintain robust sales.
The two Wathan Castanos neighborhoods have attracted 51 percent of its buyers from the S.F. Bay Area, 41 percent from the Monterey Bay area, 7 percent from the San Joaquin Valley, and 1 percent international.
Ashley Meilan, sales manager at Larkspur said that since sales began over the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance weekend in August, nine homes have been sold with three more reserved.
Mike Hoye, Sea Haven development spokesman, said that Larkspur’s buyers are made up of 50 percent Monterey County, 26 percent Bay Area, and 25 percent Southern California residents.
Meilan said that what interests prospective buyers in the Larkspur models are its lower price point, new construction and quality building.
But in the rest of California, pending sales fell six percent year-over-year last month, while falling 10.8 percent in the Bay Area, 23.5 percent in Santa Clara County, but rising 18.2 percent in Santa Cruz County.
Castano said many Layia and Villosa buyers are interested in the one-story models, making up about 60 percent of the total sales so far.
“We work to accommodate these empty-nesters who have a need for that, or at least a downstairs room,” he said.
Castanos said the California Association of Realtors’ study, and talk of a pending bubble burst, are something to keep an eye on.
“We’re watching those indicators carefully and we’ll adjust” when the time comes, he said. “We’re still feeling the effects of the recession and are careful of what we go into the next season.”
But the developer said the information can be looked at from many angles.
A senior economist with the California Association of Realtors said September’s drop was compared to an abnormal surge in September 2016. The threat of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve likely led many to capitalize on low rates, as did new mortgage record-keeping rules.
Even though the rate of pending sales declined in September, a tight housing market and buyer demand continues to fuel rising home prices throughout the state.
For those whose price point is still below the Larkspur property’s – the least expensive of the three neighborhoods – there will be affordable housing built in about two or three years at Sea Haven which will make up 20 percent of the development. But there is no indication yet of what those will sell for.