Home Selling in Montecito>Question Details

Kelly, Other/Just Looking in Santa Barbara, CA

What is the price per acre of undeveloped land in Montecito? How do you determine this?

Asked by Kelly, Santa Barbara, CA Wed May 7, 2008

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Hi Kelly-

As the others have mentioned, this is a complicated question. Let me begin by saying there isn't much undeveloped land available in Montecito so it's not uncommon for buyers to substantially remodel existing homes. The approval and building process is still lengthy and expensive, but this gives the owner an option of some rental income and can help in both areas. Basically, a buyer would not want to search for land only.

WIth this in mind, the short answer is that most of inland Montecito is valued between $1.5M and $4M an acre given zero or mimimal structural value. Properties toward the higher end of that range including the "Golden Triangle" and the "Golden Rectangle" are more likely to offer a better combination of useable acreage, schools, microclimate (there are about a dozen in the Montecito area), proximity to the Villages, and neighboring larger, high-quality estate properties. Specific property values will vary based on the exact combination. Outlying and more dense areas usually fall on the lower end of the range, but again many factors contribute to a final valuation. Note that parts of 93108 are considered Santa Barbara, not Montecito. In my opinion, Montecito foothills property values are also within that range, but a further calculation must take place to discount unuseable acreage. 10 acres of mountainside basically acts as a privacy buffer and most Montecito estates are cleverly screened by landscaping, so there's little additional value there. Oceanfront property in Montecito is quite rare, so land values are even higher. Even though it's only a mile away, I've seen sales exceed five times the value of the highest-priced inland areas.

I'll also add to the valuation discussion. On the lower end ($1.5M to $8M or so), I agree with Daniel that we focus on comparable sales. Keep in mind this is a "custom-built" area so even in lower price ranges your agent needs to be experienced and currently active in Montecito. One cannot properly determine values from looking at the MLS. When valuing upper-end Montecito estates, we use both comparable sales and replacement cost. Why? An historic estate may only have cost $300k to construct in the 1930s. Today, due to inflation and the consistent rise in building costs, a similar home could cost $12M to construct. Add in a greatly increased land value to finish the replacement cost and it's not surprising a significant number of Montecito estates are worth more than $20M. In my opinion, a few are worth well over $100M. The tricky part for even local agents is establishing what qualifies as a comparable sale. Many high-end estates are never listed in the MLS, and those that go in are often previewed "invitation only" to a select group of luxury brokers to protect the owner's privacy and security.

Subdivision rarely occurs in Montecito, even if properties meet general governmental guidelines. Neighbor concerns and required committee approvals add to the lengthy timeframes and high costs to ensure only the lowest impact proposals are successful. An interesting note is that voluntary parcel mergers and estates spanning several parcels are not uncommon.

I hope this helps and am also open to further discussion on the subject. I do not list properties for sale and partially due to the extra time spent networking and digging for leads the majority of my sales volume is from properties that are not currently or never were in the MLS. Best regards.
Web Reference: http://www.timeforsb.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 10, 2008
We have had two devastating fires in the Montecito area in the last 12 months and are just now seeing some of the "fire lots" come on the market. For a current market analysis, please contact me and I can let you know the value of the different areas. Kathleen Barnato Prudential CA Realty 805-570-3366 cell/text, k@kathleenbarnato.com. My web site also allows you to search the MLS - http://www.kathleenbarnato.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 29, 2009

As everyone stated, cost per acre is too tough to give a simple answer. I would say that it varies from $800,000 at the low end for just raw land and can go up to $4 million per acre on the most expensive streets (Picacho, East Mtn etc.) if it is a great parcel. Santa Barbara and Montecito CA have never been great areas to analyze on price per sqft. as this varies so much within just a group of any select 10 homes.

Please let me know if you ever have any more questions or needs. You can find a lot of information on my blog.

Take care
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
I am working with a company trying to determine the average price per acre in the rural areas of Santa Barbara that are not developed. I also need to fine out average crop prices. Can you help me please? My email is [k.songer@yahoo.com]. Any assistance would be very greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Flag Fri Sep 23, 2016
I am working with a company trying to determine the average price per acre in the rural areas of Santa Barbara that are not developed. I also need to fine out average crop prices. Can you help me please? My email is [k.songer@yahoo.com]. Any assistance would be very greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Flag Fri Sep 23, 2016
Keith was referring to the "Cost" Approach as an appraisal method. Typically in Montecito when you are dealing with undeveloped land, appraisers (and real estate agents) will rely more heavily on the Sales method, where you analyze comparable sales and make adjustments for differences in features. Because of the limited # of sales in Montecito, often types appraisers have to make some serious adjustments to determine value, sometimes close to or over $1million of adjustments like view.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 7, 2008
Here in the Santa Barbara/montecito area we don't rely on Price per SF or Price per acre measurements because they tend to be so inaccurate. Undeveloped land in Montecito can range from several million per acre close to town to $1.5 million/acre around Alston and Eucalyptus Hill, to much less less in the foothills. Other factors like view, slope of the parcel, access, size of the building envelope, etc. all can have huge adjustments to the property value. I'd be happy to help you gauge value on a potential purchase or sale. Give me a call at 805-637-7148 or contact me via email.

I have 3.59 acres with great ocean views in the 93108 Zipcode that was just reduced to $1,295,000 if you have any interest.
Web Reference: http://www.ZiaGroup.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 7, 2008
Normally land value is based on a theory called "highest and best use". Depending upon the zoning of the property, one would calcluate what the "best" type of home or homes could be built, that would provide a range of value for a finished product.

Let's say that the zoning was Residental, Single Family (R-!). Then question is would how many lots could be formed from one acre. Let's say that most of the lots in that area are 1.2 an acre, to 2 lots of 22,000 s/f, at a 30% building densiity that means a home about 7,000 s/f on each lot, determine the likely retail value, say $500 /s/f that would give you a sale price of about $3.5 million. Now, estimate the construction and related costs, say 7000 @ $250 per s./f, that would be 1.75 million.

Sale price $3.5 million
less construction $1.75
less closing costs $350000
Land value $2.25-2.35 million ---per half acre.

Obviously every lot is different,so slope, views, etc. make a big difference. There is a home, on one acre, on San Ysidro, listied for $7 million, so the above estimate is farily accurate given the amount of information.

Hope this is helpful. I would ask a Realtor to get a more local picture.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 7, 2008
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
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