Whether you are a first-time home buyer or a seasoned veteran who has bought and sold properties for decades, buying or selling a home can be a complex process. While I have compiled this list of Santa Barbara Home Buying and Selling Tips as a resource for both buyers and sellers just like you, there is nothing that can replace the guidance provided by a knowledgeable and trusted member of the real estate community. As a Santa Barbara Realtor with more than three decades of experience in the Santa Barbara and surrounding markets, it would be my great pleasure to share my vast experiences with you. Perhaps one of the biggest preparations sellers can make when listing their Santa Barbara CA houses for sale is to get their home ready for buyers’ first impressions. Items such as the walkway, front porch and entryway can be crucial in a buyer’s first impression. Be sure to keep these areas free from clutter, updated and fresh. Kitchens and bathrooms are also known to “sell homes.” These are great areas to consider a few upgrades to maximize your return. As part of the Santa Barbara Real Estate Services I offer to sellers, we will walk through your home together to determine if any updates or changes need to be made to emphasize your home’s most marketable qualities. For buyers, it is important to first ask yourself why you want to buy a home: To stop paying rent? To start building equity? To raise a family? To have a place of your own? To entertain business associates? To move up to a bigger home? Next, you should determine the type of home you would like to have. Be specific and be sure to separate the “needs” from the “wants.” Once you have started this process, it will be imperative to speak with a qualified loan consultant regarding a pre-qualification. These Santa Barbara Home Buying and Selling Tips will assist you in being ready to explore communities and tour homes of interest without going on a wild goose chase.
Should you have any questions about these Santa Barbara Home Buying and Selling Tips, I encourage you to contact me. As a local real estate professional who lives, works and plays within the communities I service, it would be my great pleasure to welcome you to our area or to help you find the perfect buyers for your Santa Barbara home. Please do not hesitate to contact me today. I look forward to hearing from you soon and to earning your trust and business. Let’s get started!
Why is Santa Barbara Real Estate so expensive?
The Santa Barbara County South Coast may be the most attractive area in all of California to live due to its coastal setting, weather and no/slow growth policies which have been legally, and more importantly mentally, in place since 1972. With a total population of just over 200,000 coupled with a job base larger than the number of housing units available, the unrelenting demand for residences far outstrips the limited supply. Demand to live on the South Coast comes not only from local South Coast buyers (who account for 69.1% of the sales), but from North County buyers (1.2%), California buyers (14.7%), Western United States buyers (6.4%), Eastern United States buyers (5.8%) and Buyers from Abroad (2.8%). The South Coast’s Median Home price runs over twice the price of California’s Median Home price. Santa Barbara is a world-class destination and a highly desirable place to live; real estate values are driven by lifestyle choices, not just by economics.
What is the Median Home Selling Price?
The Median Price represents the price point at which half the homes sell for more and half sell for less. The Median Price can fluctuate from month to month depending on the price-mix of homes sold.
Current Price Trends
South Coast of Santa Barbara County
For June 2022
Single Family Residence Market
Median Sales Price = $2,275,000
Lowest Sale Price = $724,000
Highest Sale Price = $17,250,000
Median Sales Price = $1,063,500
Lowest Sale Price = $695,000
Highest Sale Price = $3,650,000
Where can I see Santa Barbara homes for sale?
Just go to “Property Search” to listings currently available in any given price range.
Buying Your Santa Barbara Home
Meet with me to get a general overview of the current market and to discuss what you are looking for in a home. Contact Stan by e-mail at [email protected] or on his direct line at (805) 689-2305.
Since you will be making a serious financial commitment, your next task is to determine your budget for your investment in Santa Barbara Real Estate. If you need a mortgage, you should start the Pre-Approval process with a local lender and determine your comfort level.
Determine the size of Santa Barbara home you will require, or can live with, by identifying the spaces you need for your family’s activities. No house will ever fully live up to your dreams, so you will probably have to make some compromises. Break the process into parts and prioritize those parts. Mentally budget for the parts your really care about!
Select target neighborhoods that meet your needs for commuting, shopping access, quality of schools, availability, style and recreational activities. There is an array of possibilities; during this step we will tour homes in a few Santa Barbara neighborhoods to give you a overall view of the area.
After determining which Santa Barbara neighborhoods and will fit your desires, we will concentrate your home search in the chosen areas. This may entail e-mailing the new listings to you as they come on the market or calling you with the information.
After locating a home acceptable to you, we will prepare an offer to be presented to the Seller. This offer will contain your inspection and financing contingencies.
Upon mutual acceptance of your negotiated offer, an escrow will be opened to handle the paperwork and title insurance needed for you to purchase the property. In California, the escrow company is a neutral third party which follows mutually agreed upon instructions from the Buyer and Seller. Your deposit check, which is usually in the amount of 3% of the purchase price, will be deposited into this escrow account.
The length of escrow is negotiated in the offer and can be long or short, but the usual length is 30-45 days. Usually the Buyer has a 17 day inspection contingency and the Buyer has the right to inspect the property and review any disclosures the Seller can provide. If the Buyer requires a mortgage, the time frame for removing the loan contingency is usually between 17 and 21 days. These time frames are all negotiable.
Assuming that property checks out and you have removed all your contingencies, the balance of your funds is due in escrow the last business day prior to the escrow closing. Property transfers are recorded at 8:00 AM each business day and we usually get confirmation between 10:00 and 2:00, depending on how busy the County Recorder’s office is that particular day. Upon receiving confirmation the Seller usually releases the keys to the Buyer who is then free to occupy their new property.
Santa Barbara South Coast Real Estate Update
September 17, 2022
Direct from the County Recorder’s Office by way of Fidelity National Title, the total number of monthly residential sales on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County was down 41% from 223 in August 2021 to 133 in August 2022. In August 2022 there were 97 House/PUD (Planned Unit Development) sales (down 37% from 2021) with a median sales price of $2,272,000 (up 34% from 2021) and an average sales price of $3,365,835 (up 7% from 2021). In August 2022 there were 36 Condominium sales, (down 49% from 2021) with a median sales price of $1,015,000 (up 17% from 2021) and an average sales price of $1,185,667 (up 6% from 2021). Year to date, there were a total of 1,065 residential sales in 2022 (down 33% from 2021), with a median sales price of $1,775,000 (up 18% from 2021) and an average sales price of $2,757,395 (up 11% from 2021).
In Carpinteria, there were a total of 10 residential sales in August 2022, down from 11 in July. In August 2022 the median price of the 5 House/PUD sales was $2,100,000 and the average price was $9,229,000. In August 2022 the median price of the 5 Condominium sales was $725,000 and the average price was $828,800. The lowest-priced Carpinteria sale in
August 2022 was a Condominium on Palmetto Way @ $710,000 and the highest was an oceanfront House on Sand Point Road @ $23,000,000.
In Summerland, there was only 1 residential sale in August 2022, down from 2 in July. In August 2022 the price of the House sale on Lillie Avenue was $3,250,000.
In Montecito, there were a total of 16 residential sales in August 2022, up from 12 in July. In August 2022 the median price of the 15 House/PUD sales was $5,000,000 and the average price was $7,778,004. In August 2022 there was only 1 Condominium sale at $3,250,000. The lowest-priced Montecito sale in August 2022 was a House on Hermosillo Drive @ $2,072,000 and the highest was an Estate on Hot Springs Road @ $36,000,000.
In Santa Barbara, there were a total of 76 residential sales in August 2022, up from 40 in July. In August 2022 the median price of the 58 House/PUD sales was $2,157,000 and the average price was $2,209,395. In August 2022 the median price of the 18 Condominium sales was $1,035,000 and the average price was $1,335,833. The lowest-priced Santa Barbara sale in
August 2022 was a Condominium on Miradero Drive @ $775,000 and the highest was a House on Lasuen Road @ $5,750,000.
In Hope Ranch, there was only 1 sale in August 2022, down from 3 in July. In August 2022 the price of the House sale on Las Palmas Drive was $4,195,000. There are no Condominiums in Hope Ranch.
In Goleta, there were a total of 29 residential sales in August 2022, down from 32 in July. In August 2022 the median price of the 17 House/PUD sales was $2,420,000 and the average price was $1,651,824. In August 2022 the median price of the 12 Condominium sales was $817,500 and the average price was $937,083. The lowest-priced Goleta sale in
August 2022 was a Condominium on Armitos Avenue @ $560,000 and the highest was a House on Via Maria @ $3,900,000.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected our daily lives but also how everyone buys and sells real estate. Open houses and Broker Tours are once again allowed with optional mask-wearing. Many Sellers who had avoided listing their homes due to COVID-19 concerns have moved forward and listed their properties for sale as sales prices have surged, but inventory remains low, although it has been rising upward recently. Recently the number of sales has dropped significantly, which may indicate a movement from a Seller’s market to more of a balanced market.
All markets are hyper-localized, including the real estate market on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County with its still limited inventory and relatively higher values as compared to many other areas of California and the United States. Focusing on the supply in any market is a good way to anticipate where the markets are heading. Along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County as of September 1st, there were 170 active House/PUD listings (down from 170 in August) and 31 active Condominium listings available (down from 36 in August). Historically there has been more inventory available in the higher price ranges than in the lower ranges; as of September 1st, 24% of the 152 active House/PUD listings were located in the higher-valued Montecito and Hope Ranch areas. Compare these current low totals to the inventory levels from 2007 to 2011 when the total number of active listings fluctuated between 734 and 1,026. Historically the highest number of active listings along the South Coast was recorded in June of 1992 when there were an astounding 1,297 active listings available for Buyers to choose from.
In all of 2021, there were only 2 bank-owned sales along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County. Now in 2022, there were no bank-owned sales until June when there was a sale on Cinderella Lane for $1,205,000 ($50,000 over the list price). Currently, there is one active bank-owned listing for sale on the South Coast; 421 Fellowship Road @ $1,550,000. There have been very few distress sales due to homeowner equity rising so quickly, allowing them to “bail out” their financially distressed properties, pay off their mortgage, and avoid foreclosure. To check out California’s foreclosure list by County, check out this link: California Foreclosure Trends by County .
As of July 2022 (the latest monthly data available from CoreLogic), the highest recorded median sales price in a California county was in San Mateo County @ $1,500,000 (down 5.3% from 2021) and the lowest recorded county median sales price was in Kings County @ $305,000 (down 1.6% from 2021). The fluctuations in the 2022 median City sales prices as compared to 2021 were highest in June Lake in Mono County at +494.8% (median sale price of $910,000) and the lowest in Inverness in Marin County at -65.7% (median sale price of $1,682,500.) The median sales price in Santa Barbara County was $725,000 (up 7.2% from 2021) while the median sales price in the City of Santa Barbara was $1,813,000 (up 13% from 2021). The lowest residential median sales price in any California city was recorded in Bodfish in Kern County @ $94,750 (no sales in 2021) and the highest was in Atherton in San Mateo County @ $6,630,000 (up 3.6% from 2021). You could buy 70 median-priced Houses in Bodfish, 8.8 in Santa Barbara County, or 3.7 in the City of Santa Barbara for the same price as 1 House in Atherton. If you care to see a House you can buy in Bodfish for only $99,500, check out https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/207-Lake-Dr_Bodfish_CA_93205_M29688-37212 . If you care to see a House you can buy in Atherton for $5,998,000, check out https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/198-James-Ave_Atherton_CA_94027_M22715-28486?ex=2945465401 .
The Federal Reserve (the Fed) had maintained a near-zero rate since early 2020 due to the negative effects on the world economy due to COVID-19 and supply chain issues. The early May half-point hike was the biggest rate increase in 22 years followed by an even larger three-quarter-point raise in June, a quarter-point raise in late July, and now a three-quarter-point raise in September. The Fed is making a high-risk bet that it can hopefully slow the economy down enough to rein in inflation without weakening it so much as to trigger a recession. In his much-anticipated annual policy speech at Jackson Hole, Wyoming on August 26th, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell delivered a stern commitment Friday to halting inflation, warning that he expects the central bank to continue raising interest rates in a way that will cause “some pain” to the U.S. economy. Mortgage interest rates have increased 2% since the beginning of 2022 and have actually gone down in the last few weeks. As of September 9th, you could lock in a $640,000 30-year fixed-rate loan at 5.99% with a 1% closing fee. Strange as it may seem, if you borrow more than $647,200, the interest rate will actually go down to 5.75% with a 1% closing fee. Historically the lowest 30-year mortgage interest rate since 1970 was recorded in February 2021 at 2.65%, which was matched again in July 2021. The highest historical conforming mortgage rate was recorded in 1981 @ 18.63%. As a comparison, a payment for a $640,000 mortgage in 1981 would have been $9,975/month, the payment in February 2021 would have been $2,616/month, and as of September 9th, the payment would be $3,833/month. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications have decreased due to a lack of owners refinancing their properties. Increased mortgage rates have dissuaded some potential buyers.
Of the 133. sales in August 2022, 106 were over $1,000,000 which equates to 80% of the total sales, up from 78% in July. The South Coast of Santa Barbara is not an inexpensive place to purchase real estate compared to most areas of the United States, but again many people will pay more to live and invest in Santa Barbara. According to PropertyShark’s 2021 report, California has 89 of the 127 most expensive median-priced sales ZIP codes in the country with New York being the next highest with 17 ZIPs. Montecito’s 93108 ZIP came in at #7 nationally. https://www.propertyshark.com/Real-Estate-Reports/most-expensive-zip-codes-in-the-us
The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index is a good indicator of where home builders see the national real estate home market going. The NAHB housing market index in the US extended declines for an eighth month to 49 in August of 2022, the lowest reading since May 2020, and well below market forecasts of 55. Tighter monetary policy from the Federal Reserve and persistently elevated construction costs have brought on a housing recession. The total volume of single-family starts will post a decline in 2022, the first such decrease since 2011.
According to USA Today, the national average for all-cash real estate sales was 31.4% in July 2022, 33% in the first quarter of 2022, 25% in 2021, and 15% in 2020. On the South Coast in August 2022, 44% of the sales were cash sales, substantially up from 32% in July. Review the attached list of the 133 properties sold on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County in August 2022 and/or contact me for information on specific sales.
On June 1st UCLA presented its Economic Outlook which essentially suggests that the economy peaked in January or February and has since slowed down, but it is not in a recession. The Outlook predicts a recession is at least a year away, but maybe as much as 3 years away. To watch the entire Economic Outlook click HERE.
On August 30th the Conference Board reported that the Consumer Confidence Index was 103.2, up from 95.3 in July. In recent years the highest Index level recorded was 137.9 in October 2018 and it was more recently as high as 132.6 in February 2020, at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically the highest Consumer Confidence Index level was recorded in September 2000 when the Index stood at 142.5. “Consumer confidence increased in August after falling for three straight months,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director at the Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index recorded a gain for the first time since March. The Expectations Index likewise improved from July’s 9-year low, but remains below a reading of 80, suggesting recession risks continue. Concerns about inflation continued their retreat but remained elevated.” To review the full report: https://conferenceboard.org/data/consumerconfidence.cfm
As for the worldwide cost of living as of September, Expatistan compiled an index of 235 major metropolitan areas. The cost of gasoline was checked on September 15th. Expatistan’s list indicates that #12 Los Angeles with a 225 Price Index score is the most expensive area in California (a gallon of regular gas costs $4.79) and the least expensive is #80 Modesto with a Price Index score of 143 ($4.75/gallon). In the USA, #2 New York City @ 263 ($4.40/gallon) was the most expensive and the least expensive was #121 Cedar Rapids, Iowa @ 120 ($3.39/gallon). Of the top 25 most expensive areas worldwide, 3 (up from 2 in August) are in California including Los Angeles at #12, #16 San Diego @ 212 ($5.09/gallon), and #19 Irvine @ 191 ($5.39/gallon). The most expensive area to live in the world is #1 Hamilton (Bermuda) @ 284 ($8.94/gallon) and the least expensive is #235 Kharkiv (Ukraine) @ 47 ($5.01/gallon). Santa Barbara is not on the list as Expatistan does not rate it as a major metropolitan area, but local gas prices of $5.07/gallon are similar to other California coastal areas. In June the highest gas price in California was $9.60/gallon in Mendocino, so hopefully, it has gone done by now. Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index is interesting to check out to compare the cost of living in cities around the world: https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/index
On September 8th, Danielle Hale at realtor.com wrote about national housing trends @ https://www.realtor.com/research/weekly-housing-trends-view-data-week-sep-3-2022/ :
“The housing market’s rapid growth in inventory from flat at the beginning of May to up 30% in late July had stalled in August as buyers and, perhaps more importantly sellers, adapted to shifting housing market conditions. But this week’s data snapped a 4-week streak of slowing momentum, with active listings growth ticking back up to 27%. This week’s data may be due to variability around the Labor Day holiday or could signal a renewed recognition of the relative advantages today’s sellers have, such as record high home equity, even if their market power is not quite as strong as it was over the last year. New listing trends will be a key indicator to watch.”
Historically the highest Year-to-Date median sales price recorded on the Santa Barbara South Coast was recorded back in 2007 at $1,031,500. In August 2022 the median sales price was $1,775,000, down from $1,790,000 in July and up 19% from 2021. The median sales price had been hovering near 2007’s historic high for most of 2017, 2018, and 2019, started an upward creep in 2020 and then accelerated in 2021 and into 2022. In 2022 new record high median sales prices were being set each month and have now leveled off. In August 2022 the average South Coast sales price was $2,757,395.
Based on the Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service data, as of September 1st in the City of Santa Barbara, there were 74 active House/PUD listings (down from 76 in August) and 36 pending sales (down from 47 in August), which equates to a low 2.1-month supply (up from 1.6 in August) of listings for Buyers to choose from. Generally a “one-month supply” would indicate the listings would all be sold within one month. A two-to-four-month supply of inventory would be considered a basic Seller’s market where demand is high and inventory is scarce, a one-to-two-month supply of inventory indicates a heated Seller’s market and a one-month or less supply indicates a feverish Seller’s market. Historically a four-to-six-month supply of available inventory would indicate a fairly well-balanced, normal market between Buyers and Sellers. Typically more than a six-month supply is considered to be a Buyer’s market where inventory is plentiful; Buyers are slower to make decisions and want to compare the properties on the market. Based on Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service data and as of September 1st, Carpinteria/Summerland had a 3-month supply (down from 9.3 in August), Montecito had a 3.1-month supply (down from 5 in August), Goleta had a .9-month supply (down from 1.9 in August) and Hope Ranch had a 3-month supply (down from 11 in August). These inventory statistics indicate that Goleta is now in a feverish Seller’s market. Montecito, Hope Ranch, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria/Summerland have all moved into a basic Seller’s market. With a combined total of 77 House/PUD pending sales (up from 69 in August) and 152 active listings (down from 170 in July) on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is only a 1.97-month supply (down from 2.5 in August) of House/PUD listings from which Buyers can choose. With a combined total of 24 Condominium pending sales (up from 19 in August) and only 31 active listings (down from 36 in August) on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is only a 1.3-month supply (down from 1.9 in August) of Condominium listings from which Buyers can choose. The South Coast market as a whole still remains entrenched in a basic Seller’s Market. The market has calmed and instead of seeing 7+ offers on a listing, we are only seeing 1-3 and the listings are staying on the market longer.
The ramifications of the concerns about COVID-19 and how it has and will continue to affect our world, the war in Ukraine, inflation, the cost of gasoline, scarcity of insurance companies in California, rising mortgage rates, and rising insurance premiums are all concerns to many Buyers, and Sellers. Now that Proposition 19 has taken full effect, 55+ year-old homeowners can transfer their existing real estate tax base to a new home anywhere in California. Mortgage interest rates have risen lately but are still near historical lows and have decreased in the last few weeks. Low inventory and the COVID-19 migratory trends toward smaller cities all have led to a surge in Santa Barbara property values. With a number of qualified Buyers and lower inventory, do not expect to see values going down anytime soon. Supply and demand dynamics have and will continue to affect the South Coast of the Santa Barbara Real Estate Market now and for a long time to come.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Stan Tabler, CRS, GRI, ABR, GREEN
801 Chapala Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
CalBRE Brokers License #00774377 since 1980