The greater Santa Barbara/Goleta area has seen strong sales below $1 million over the past several months. Inventory levels are low and that, combined with very low interest rates, make a compelling argument that now would be a good time to sell. Just be sure to price your home properly.
The forecasts I've read call for increased interest rates in 2013 which will make buying less affordable and continue to put pressure on housing prices, so even if demand stays high, don't expect much, if any, increase in prices.
There are positives and negatives to renters. If you have great ones with nice furniture and flexibility for showings they would be a positive, but it's just as easy to find renters that would clutter the house too much or make showings difficult, so it's probably safer to have the home vacant. There are professional house sitters that live in homes that are on the market though I'm not sure if condos are possible.
Please contact me directly if you need a referral to an agent that specializes in your price range and area.
(805) 284-3660 direct