Santa Cruz County’s priciest sale of the year fetches nearly $10M 

An Aptos beach home with an interior design pedigree is the biggest deal so far this year in Santa Cruz County. The four-bedroom, three-bath house sold for $9.8 million, or more than $4,1000 per square foot, earlier this month after listing in early October for $10 million.

The buyers of 531 Beach Drive are listed in public records as Beach Drive Living Trust, whose trustee is Bradley Hileman, the executive director of the Reiter Family Offices. Reiter Affiliated Companies, based in Oxnard, is the largest multi-berry producer in the world, according to its website. Best known for its Driscoll’s brand, the family-owned company began in the Bay Area in the 1860s and now has berry farms around the world. 

The Portola Group of Keller Williams represented the buyers, and declined to comment. 

The nearly half-acre beachfront parcel was sold by Patrick and Teresa Royan, who bought it for less than $2 million in 2000, according to public records. They are also part of the local farming community, and have owned Pleasant Valley Farms in Aptos since 2017. They make olive oil and wine on their 29-acre spread, which also has horse boarding facilities, according to the farm’s website. 

Finding the right buyers was essential to his clients, who built their home steps from the sand in 2005, according to listing agent Marcus Vidrine of David Lyng Real Estate. 

“It was important to the sellers to choose someone that cared about it as much as they did,” he said. “Their offer was clean and straightforward.”

The sellers tasked L.A.-based designer Sally Sirkin Lewis with creating the home’s look and the Interior Design Hall of Famer was the vision behind everything from the curved maple staircase to the custom furniture. Second to the beachfront location, the design and more recent vintage were the reasons the property stood out to the buyers, said Vidrine, who co-listed with Megan Lyng.

The home has parking for seven cars behind its gated front entrance, including two garages. There are also glass, roll-up garage doors on the back of the home, allowing an easy access point between the ground floor rec room — with aquatic mural and custom surfboard light fixture over the pool table — and the beach.

Lewis’ design is “very timeless while allowing for cosmetic upgrades over time,” Vidrine said. It also withstood last winter’s big Santa Cruz storms, he said, and was the first to be built to the FEMA 100-year flood requirements on Beach Drive.

Storm preparedness is something that buyers have had more of a focus on this year for beachfront properties, Vidrine said, adding that storm damage to other homes on the coast may be one reason there have been so few listed this year.

The home is on Platforms Beach, known for its gentle waves and long shallow shelf out into the water. Last year’s biggest Santa Cruz sale was also on the beach in Aptos, slightly north at Las Olas Beach. It traded for $15.4 million last December and was also listed by the Vidrine-Lyng team in October. 

“October is one of the best months to list a home because the weather and sunsets are some of the best,” Vidrine said. “Sellers can enjoy their beach homes through the summer and buyers are more focused after the summer and before the holidays to settle into something.”

The Beach Drive home is not only the most expensive sale in the county this year, it was also one of less than 10 to trade at around $10 million and up in the last five years, according to Redfin data. 

Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather has said that second-home sales are down nationwide this year, due in large part to rising interest rates. But Vidrine said the lack of inventory has meant high-end homes on the beach and bluff in Santa Cruz still get higher prices than they did a year ago. He said there are several homes on the market that may end up topping 531 Beach Drive, including his recent listing of a La Selva Beach home with more than 11,000 square feet on 12 acres for $12.5 million. 

“We have seen some higher-end properties sit this year, but that was largely due to aspirational pricing and sellers using out-of-area representation,” he said. “Well-priced second home inventory is still very much active on the high end and in general.”

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