Hows the market in Santa Barbara?

Asked by C, West Palm Beach, FL Fri Jun 13, 2008

We are retiring there in August.

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iNSITES Team, Agent, Santa Barbara, CA
Fri Jun 13, 2008
Hi C-

I've read a few national articles that indicate Santa Barbara County is one of the worst-hit foreclosure areas in the nation, but this is quite misleading. One must separate South and North Santa Barbara Counties because they're such drastically different areas, separated by mountains and a lengthy drive. Without going into too much detail, North County has severe foreclosure and short sale issues, is inland with different demographics and inventory, and overall is down 25% or more. South County includes Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Carpinteria, and these areas have fared extremely well when you consider all price ranges.

Since I'm a buyer specialist in South County only, meaning 1) I spend multiple days a week physically looking at new properties as or before they hit the market, and 2) I analyze our local statistics on a regular basis, I can only speak to this area. I'm unsure how out-of-area agents can confidently reply. As others have indicated our market is insulated due to the scarcity of supply (geographically because the ocean and mountains are in such close proximity, and politically because it's time consuming and expensive to develop here), and a strong overall demand.

A large portion of buyers in the area are in your situation and are looking to retire and/or purchase a second home. This often means they're focusing on view homes, homes close to the beach, or those in walking distance of the downtown area. Our high-end markets in Montecito and Hope Ranch have also fared well. On the other hand, homes on the lower end of the market, including tract homes and condominiums, are down substantially.

Taking a snapshot through May of 2008 and comparing it with the same timeframe of 2007, here's what we see:

The South County median price remains constant at approximately $1.2 million. As mentioned, this is basically a story of two price ranges. Condos and less expensive single-family homes (less than $1 million) have seen their median values drop 15% to 20%. Our high-end markets in Montecito and Hope Ranch are together UP a couple of percentage points. Montecito, specifically, has seen it's median price soar to $3.7 million in 2008.

Inventory levels and activity have been a concern. The number of homes entering escrow has dropped approximately 20%, while inventory levels have increased due to a 100-day average market time and a disparity between asking prices and final sales prices. A recent increase in activity on the lower end may indicate some stability is returning, but I don't think we're out of the woods yet. I expect the number of short sales/foreclosures in the area, while very, very low as a percentage of the market, will increase slightly. The number of high-end sales remains lower and I'd expect that trend to continue through the year. Prices, however, are unlikely to drop significantly, as many sellers choose to wait slower markets out in this price range. That said, there are select situations where "deals" can be had when sellers are moving out of the area, inherit homes, or run into financial problems.

Overall the answer is we're still in a "buyer's market," but as you see there's a lot to it. I'm happy to go into further detail or discuss specific property ranges and types via email or telephone.

Best regards,

Jon Perkins
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2 votes
Lara Logue, Agent, Montecito, CA
Fri Jun 13, 2008
Hi C,

Santa Barbara is the perfect location to retire! A home here - large or small - will be a remarkable investment. Due to our geographical location, there is limited inventory comparatively to other areas of the United States and within California. Because we are nestled in between the ocean and the mountains, the intrinsic value of land is greater and people are willing to pay a premium for all that Santa Barbara offers. That being said, the home inventory is plentiful and buyers are enjoying a slight advantage. Please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.


Lara Logue
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1 vote
Michael Barr…, Agent, Irvine, CA
Fri Jun 13, 2008
HI Ci. The market is stong as far a resale values go. The demand is solid for this area. But as mentioned there are some great opportunities for the savvy buyer. If you would like to know how many homes are on the market, how many pending and how many actually sold let me know. I can also show yoiu some reportos of days on market and the Activity index which is very beneficial for potential buyers in this area.

Hope this helps
Michael Barron
First Team Real Estate
1 vote
nil nil, , Calico Farms, Kansas City, MO
Fri Jun 13, 2008
The market in Santa Barbara is in good shape relative to the national scene. Demand for high end properties remains strong and the median price continues to rise. That being said, it is a great time to be a buyer. How great depends on the type of property and price range that you are looking for. For more information regarding the market, you can take a look at my blog (link below.) I have posted articles and compiled statistics that will help give you a sense of where the market is at. Or, if you would prefer, you can email or call me and we can talk.

Best, Michael Day
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1 vote
Cori Kaplan, , Huntington, NY
Fri Jun 13, 2008
Hi C,
Feel free to receive my free Free Market Snapshot report for Santa Barbara.

Here is the link

Cori Kaplan
1 vote
Kevin Schmid…, Agent, Santa Barbara, CA
Wed Sep 24, 2008

Feel free to read about market reports and updates on my website at…

If you would like to talk further about your needs and situation and anything real estate related here in Santa Barbara, I would be happy to be of help.

Look forward to hearing from you.

take care

Kevin Schmidtchen
Sotheby's Int'l Realty
Santa Barbara
0 votes
Erika Krebs, Agent, Santa Barbara, CA
Sat Jun 14, 2008
Congrats on choosing the "American Riviera" for your retirement! Nationally, it's a buyer's market and that is no different in Santa Barbara. I am a buyer's agent and I've been watching home prices fall a lot in the last year, even in the last 6 months. The most price drops have been in the under $ 1,000,000 range while the larger estates have held their value fairly well. So, it really depends on what you are looking for. Montecito and Hope Ranch is where you will most likely find the larger estates that have not dropped too considerably, so if this is your price range for a long term home, I'd start looking there. However, it you are putting financial investment as high as a priority as personal preference, than closer to Downtown or in Goleta will be better choices. There have been some incredible deals for these areas that I can certainly help you find. Goleta and Downtown Santa Barbara will most likely be less home, but more location convenience (ie. walk to beach or shops) and you will find your best deals, in my opinion, in these areas. Please let me know if you would like a list of homes available to check out.
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