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 November 2022
Single Family Residence Market
Median Sales Price = $1,725,000
Lowest Sale Price = $690,500
Highest Sale Price = $11,500,000
Median Sales Price = $1,055,000
Lowest Sale Price = $535,000
Highest Sale Price = $3,375,000
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
December 10, 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 45% from 155 in November 2021 to 85 in November 2022. In November 2022 there were 57 House/PUD (Planned Unit Development) sales (down 42% from 2021) with a median sales price of $1,725,000 (down 18% from 2021) and an average sales price of $2,293,720 (down 20% from 2021). In November 2022 there were 28 Condominium sales, (down 50% from 2021) with a median sales price of $1,055,000 (up 25% from 2021) and an average sales price of $1,070,190 (up 20% from 2021). Year to date, there were a total of 1,367 residential sales in 2022 (down 34% from 2021), with a median sales price of $1,722,000 (up 15% from 2021) and an average sales price of $2,653,249 (up 9% from 2021).
In Carpinteria, there were a total of 11 residential sales in November 2022, up from 8 in October. In November 2022 the median price of the 6 House/PUD sales was $1,425,000 and the average price was $1,526,333. In November 2022 the median price of the 5 Condominium sales was $760,000 and the average price was $861,500. The lowest-priced Carpinteria sale in November 2022 was a Condominium on Birch Street @ $575,000 and the highest was a House on Serena Avenue @ $2,100,000.
In Summerland, there was only 1 residential sale in November 2022: a house on Toro Canyon Road for $4,250,000. There were no Condominium sales in November 2022.
In Montecito, there were a total of 6 residential sales in November 2022, down from 8 in October. In November 2022 the median price of the 3 House/PUD sales was $5,450,000 and the average price was $7,373,333. In November 2022 the median price of the 3 Condominium sales was $3,175,000 and the average price was $2,760,000. The lowest-priced Montecito sale in November 2022 was a Condominium on Plaza De Sonadores @ $1,830,000 and the highest was an Estate on Hot Springs Road @ $11,500,000.
In the City of Santa Barbara, there were a total of 36 residential sales in November 2022, down from 55 in October. In November 2022 the median price of the 27 House/PUD sales was $1,880,000 and the average price was $2,301,227. In November 2022 the median price of the 9 Condominium sales was $1,500,000 and the average price was $1,543,889. The lowest-priced Santa Barbara sale in November 2022 was a Condominium on Miramonte Drive @ $765,000 and the highest was a House on Mission Canyon Road @ $6,187,000.
In Hope Ranch, there were no sales in November 2022.
In Goleta, there were a total of 31 residential sales in November 2022, up from 26 in October. In November 2022 the median price of the 20 House/PUD sales was $1,158,750 and the average price was $1,654,044. In November 2022 the median price of the 11 Condominium sales was $639,000 and the average price was $856,500. The lowest-priced Goleta sale in November 2022 was a Condominium on Dearborn Place @ $535,000 and the highest was a PUD on Heron Court @ $3,450,000.
The on and off again pandemic has affected our lives and how everyone buys and sells real estate. Sellers who avoided listing their homes due to pandemic concerns have moved forward when values increased dramatically and listed their properties for sale, but the inventory of listings for sale still remains relatively low due to many factors. The historically low mortgage interest rates have risen dramatically since early 2022 when many would-be Sellers locked in on mortgage rates of 3% or less, so there is now a financial consideration to stay in their current homes. Recently the number of sales in our upper-end market has dropped significantly, especially in Hope Ranch, which indicates a movement from a Seller’s market to more of a balanced market or to a Buyer’s market. Sales in the Goleta market remain fairly strong.
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 December 1st, there were 130 active House/PUD listings (up from 121 in November) and 41 active Condominium listings available (equal to 41 in November). Historically there has been more inventory available in the higher price ranges than in the lower ranges; as of November 1st, 32% of the 130 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. In 2022, there was a bank-owned sale in June on Cinderella Lane for $1,205,000 ($50,000 over the list price) and one at 421 Fellowship Road in November for $1,005,000 ($545,000 under list price). There are no bank-owned listings available at this point in time. 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 the mortgage, and avoid foreclosure. To check out California’s foreclosure list by County, check out this link: California Foreclosure Trends by County .
“The rapid increase in prices during the COVID-19 pandemic caused many U.S. housing markets to reach completely unaffordable levels for potential local homebuyers. On the West Coast and in Mountain-West states, home prices are slowing from this spring’s high but remain elevated from a year ago. By contrast, markets that continue to see an in-migration of higher-income households are still experiencing home price gains that are notably higher than the national rate of appreciation.” – Selma Hepp
Interim Lead, Deputy Chief Economist for CoreLogic
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 pandemic and supply chain issues. At a November 30, 2022 news conference, Fed Chairman Jerome H. Powell was asked about raising interest rates and he replied “Despite some promising developments, we have a long way to go in restoring price stability.” Powell then noted that policy moves such as interest rate increases and the reduction of the Fed’s bond holdings generally take time to make their way through the system.“Thus, it makes sense to moderate the pace of our rate increases as we approach the level of restraint that will be sufficient to bring inflation down. The time for moderating the pace of rate increases may come as soon as the December meeting.” The Fed then raised its benchmark rate substantially by three-quarters of a point for a fourth straight time, the sixth raise in 2022. The Fed’s key rate is now in a range of 3.75% to 4%, the highest it has been in 15 years. Few would disagree that bringing the inflation rate down is imperative; we will see what the Fed does at the next meeting on December 14th.
Mortgage interest rates have more than doubled since the beginning of 2022, just recently marking a 16-year high. As of December 10th, you could lock in a $647,200 30-year fixed-rate loan at 6.375% with a 1% closing fee, down from 6.625% in November. 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 mortgage payment for a $647,200 mortgage in 1981 would have been $10,087/month, the payment in February 2021 would have been $2,608/month, and as of December 10th, the payment would be $4,038/month. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications have dramatically decreased due to a lack of owners refinancing their properties. Increased mortgage rates have dissuaded many potential buyers from searching for a new home and discouraged some sellers from moving due the low mortgage payments they have locked in on their present home.
According to USA Today, the national average for all-cash real estate sales was 31.4%. On the South Coast in November 2022, 40% of the sales were cash sales, up from 38% in October. Review the attached list of the 85 properties sold on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County in November 2022 and/or contact me for information on specific sales.
Of the 85 sales in November 2022, 80 were over $1,000,000 which equates to 82.4% of the total sales, down from 82.6% in October. 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/
In November 2022, the National Association of Home Builders housing market index fell nationally for the tenth straight month to 33, down from 38 in October and far below the historical peak of 90 in November 2020. The index is at the lowest level since 2012 as the combination of increasing interest rates, persistent building material supply chain disruptions and high home prices continue to take a toll on affordability.
On November 29th the Conference Board reported that the Consumer Confidence Index was 100.2, down from 102.2 in October. “Consumer confidence declined again in November, most likely prompted by the recent rise in gas prices,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index moderated further and continues to suggest the economy has lost momentum as the year winds down. Consumers’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook remained gloomy. Indeed, the Expectations Index is below a reading of 80, which suggests the likelihood of a recession remains elevated.” 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 pandemic. Historically the highest Consumer Confidence Index level was recorded in September 2000 when the Index stood at 142.5.” To review the full report: https://conference-board.org/
As for the worldwide cost of living as of December, Expatistan compiled an index of 223 major metropolitan areas. The cost of gasoline was checked on December 10th. Expatistan’s list indicates that #6 San Francisco with a 230 Price Index score is the most expensive area in California (a gallon of regular gas costs $4.49) and the least expensive is #83 Modesto with a Price Index score of 131 ($4.09/gallon). In the USA, #1 New York City @ 271 ($4.49/gallon) was the most expensive and the least expensive was #107 Cedar Rapids, Iowa @ 107 ($2.83/gallon). Of the top 25 most expensive areas worldwide, 5 are in California including San Francisco @ #6, Los Angeles @ #13 ($4.42/gallon), #18 San Diego @ 196 ($4.39/gallon) and #25 Irvine @ 178 ($4.59/gallon). The most expensive area to live in the world is #1 New York City @ #1 and the least expensive is #223 Nagpur (India) @ 45 ($3.84/gallon). Santa Barbara is not on the list as Expatistan does not rate it as a major metropolitan area. Local gas prices of $4.72/gallon are similar to other California coastal areas. 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/
On December 8th, Danielle Hale at realtor.com wrote about national housing trends @ https://www.realtor.com/
“Housing data in the week that followed the Thanksgiving holiday, showed that the recent dip in mortgage rates may already be having an impact, especially since consumers generally expect to see higher mortgage rates ahead. Growth in the number of homes for sale steadied at a level 53% higher than this time last year, and while there were again fewer newly listed homes the decline was the smallest since July. Home price growth eased back after picking up slightly last week, raising the likelihood that single-digit price growth may be in the picture before year-end. In the big picture, housing affordability challenges haven’t disappeared. For this reason, we expect mid-sized markets that offer affordability and are home to a mix of domestic manufacturing, government, healthcare and education employers to have some of the top housing markets of 2023, where home sales and prices continue to grow.”
Historically the highest Year-to-Date median sales price recorded on the Santa Barbara South Coast was recorded in 2007 at $1,031,500. In November 2022 the median sales price was $1,722,000, down from $1,735,000 in October and up 15% 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 early 2022 new record-high median sales prices were being set each month and have now leveled off and slightly declined. As of November 2022 the average South Coast sales price was $2,653,249.
Based on the Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service data, as of December 1st in the City of Santa Barbara, there were 51 active House/PUD listings (down from 65 in November) and 24 pending sales (down from 31 in November), which equates to a low 2.1-month supply (up from 1.8 in September) of listings for Buyers to choose from. Generally a 1-month supply would indicate the listings would all be sold within one month. A 2-to-4-month supply of inventory would be considered a basic Seller’s market where demand is high and inventory is scarce, a 1-to-2-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 4-to-6-month supply of available inventory would indicate a fairly well-balanced, normal market between Buyers and Sellers. Typically more than a 6-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 December 1st, Carpinteria/Summerland had a 4.6-month supply (up from 3.6 in November), Montecito had a 4.7-month supply (up from 2.8 in November), Goleta had a 1.3-month supply (up from 1.2 in November) and Hope Ranch had a 13-month supply (up from 9 in November). These inventory statistics indicate that Goleta remains in a heated Seller’s market. Santa Barbara has just crossed over into a basic Seller’s market. Carpinteria/Summerland and Montecito have crossed over into a more balanced market. Hope Ranch remains in a Buyer’s market. With a combined total of 47 House/PUD pending sales (down from 56 in November) and 130 active listings (up from 121 in November) on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is only a 2.8-month supply (up from 2.2 in October) of House/PUD listings from which Buyers can choose. With a combined total of 13 Condominium pending sales (down from 27 in November) and only 41 active listings (up from 38 in November) on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is a 3.2-month supply (up from 1.4 in November) of Condominium listings from which Buyers can choose. The South Coast market as a whole still remains entrenched in a variety of Seller’s Markets, except for Hope Ranch which is in a Buyer’s Market. As the market is in transition, listings are staying on the market longer with fewer multiple offers, but multiple offers still happen. Even with all the negative press, Santa Barbara real estate values have been more resilient to the downward pressures than other parts of the country.
The ramifications of the concerns about the pandemic and how it continues to affect our world, the war in Ukraine, inflation, the cost of gasoline, scarcity of insurance coverage in California or rising premiums, rising mortgage rates, and the possibility of a prolonged recession are all concerns to many Buyers, and Sellers. Since Proposition 19 has taken full effect, 55+ year-old homeowners can transfer their existing real estate tax base to a home anywhere in California, which should encourage some sellers to list their homes. Mortgage interest rates have risen lately and are nowhere near the historic historical lows of the last few years. Low inventory and accelerated pandemic migratory trends toward smaller cities all led to a surge in Santa Barbara property values. Market corrections will affect values on the South Coast of Santa Barbara, but not as much as in many other areas. With continuing low inventory, 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 and Happy Holidays!