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 September 2018
Single Family Residence/PUD Market
Median Sales Price = $1,761,488
Lowest Sale Price = $630,000
Highest Sale Price = $15,850,000
Median Sales Price = $820,689
Lowest Sale Price = $389,000
Highest Sale Price = $1,800,000
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
October 12, 2018
Direct from the County Recorder’s Office, the overall number of property sales on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County was down 8% from 160 in September 2017 to 147 in September 2018, the median sales price was down 6% from $989,000 in September 2017 to $929,000 in September 2018 and the average sales price was up 1% from $1,352,588 in September 2017 to $1,371,088 in September 2018. In September 2018 there were 86 House/PUD sales with a median sales price of $1,204,250 and an average sales price of $1,761,488. In September 2018 there were 61 Condominium sales with a median sales price of $708,000 and an average sales price of $820,689.
In Carpinteria the number of sales was up 43% from 14 in September 2017 to 20 in September 2018. The median sales price was down 8% from $711,500 in September 2017 to $652,500 in September 2018 and the average sales price was up 28% from $875,571 in September 2017 to $1,117,350 in September 2018. The lowest priced Carpinteria sale in September 2018 was a Condominium on Hickory Street @ $389,000 and the highest sale was an oceanfront House on Sandyland Road @ $4,000,000.
In Summerland there was only 1 sale in both September 2018 and September 2017. The median sales and average sale prices were both up 21% from $1,345,000 in September 2017 to $1,625,000 in September 2018. Since there was only one sale, the lowest and highest priced Summerland sale in September 2018 was an oceanfront House on Lookout Park Road @ $1,625,000.
In Montecito the number of sales was down 29% from 14 in September 2017 to 10 in September 2018. The median sales price was down 19% from $3,140,250 in September 2017 to $2,535,000 in September 2018 and the average sales price was up 17% from $3,874,571 in September 2017 to $4,456,500 in September 2018. The lowest priced Montecito sale in September 2018 was a Condominium on San Ysidro Road @ $750,000 and the highest sale was an Estate on Picacho Lane @ $15,850,000.
In Santa Barbara the number of sales was down 37% from 93 in September 2017 to 58 in September 2018. The median sales price was up 42% from $989,000 in September 2017 to $1,400,000 in September 2018 and the average sales price was up 12% from $1,161,285 in September 2017 to $1,294,905 in September 2018. The lowest priced Santa Barbara sale in September 2018 was a Condominium on W. Ortega Street @ $510,000 and the highest sale was a House on Pueblo Vista Road @ $2,980,000.
In Hope Ranch the number of sales was up 50% from 2 in September 2017 to 3 in September 2018. The median sales price was up 14% from $2,535,000 in September 2017 to $2,885,000 in September 2018 and the average sales price was up 39% from $2,535,000 in September 2017 to $3,511,667 in September 2018. The lowest priced Hope Ranch sale in September 2018 was a House on Via Tranquila @ $1,750,000 and the highest sale was an Estate on Cantera Avenue @ $5,900,000.
In Goleta the number of sales was up 53% from 36 in September 2017 to 55 in September 2018. The median sales price was down 3% from $826,500 in September 2017 to $800,000 in September 2018 and the average sales price was down 14% from $986,042 in September 2017 to $844,973 in September 2018. The lowest priced Goleta sale in September 2018 was a Condominium on Hollister Avenue @ $425,000 and the highest sale was a House on Randolph Road @ $1,595,000.
A limited supply of available properties along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County is keeping values higher than one might expect as compared to many inland areas of California and most areas of the United States. While the appreciation rate along the South Coast seems to have softened in general, there are still some areas where multiple offers are commonplace. On the South Coast of Santa Barbara County as of October 7th there were 427 active House/PUD listings (up from 415 in September) and 133 active Condominium listings available for purchase (down from 135 in September). Generally, there is much more inventory available in the higher price ranges than in the lower ranges as 129 (30%) of the 427 active House/PUD listings are located in Montecito and Hope Ranch. Compare these low totals to the years 2007 to 2011 when the total number of available listings ranged between 734 and 1,026. Historically the highest number of available listings along the South Coast was recorded in June of 1992 when there were 1,297 listings available for sale; now that was a Buyer’s market!
In September 2018 on the South Coast of Santa Barbara there were 3 bank-owned property sales, up from 0 in August. As of October 7th there were no bank-owned listings in escrow and 2 bank-owned listings available for sale: a Condominium on Palmetto Way for $549,900 and a House on Cuna Drive for $1,349,000 (these same 2 were also available in August). During the last few years, the foreclosure activity along the South Coast of Santa Barbara Country has diminished dramatically. Check out California’s foreclosure list by Realty Trac: http://www.realtytrac.com/statsandtrends/foreclosuretrends/ca .
As of August 2018 (the latest data available from CoreLogic) the highest recorded California County median sales price in California was in San Francisco County @ $1,314,300 (up 7.5% from 2017) and the lowest recorded County median sales price was in Siskiyou County @ $180,000 (up 8.1% from 2017). The median sales price in the County of Santa Barbara was $515,000 (down 5.3% from 2017) and the median sales price in the City of Santa Barbara was $1,015,500 (down .09% from 2017). The lowest median sales price in any California city was in Trona in San Bernardino County @ $45,000 (down 25% from 2017) and the highest was in Sunset Beach in Orange County @ $5,250,000 (no sales in 2017). You could buy 117 median priced houses in Trona, 10.2 in the County of Santa Barbara or 5.2 in the City of Santa Barbara for the same price as 1 house in Sunset Beach. If you care to see what you can buy in Trona for $46,000, check outhttps://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/12185-B-St_Trona_CA_93562_M25583-50229 . If you care to see what you can buy in Sunset Beach for $4,975,000 check outhttps://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/16571-S-Pacific-Coast-Hwy_Sunset-Beach_CA_90742_M16911-67252 .
After the Federal Reserve (the Fed) raised the short term lending rate to banks to 2.25% at their September 26th meeting, on October 4th the unemployment rate dropped to 3.7% which is a 49-year low. Jerome Powell says “the economy is strong and most people who want a job are finding one.” Strong retail sales numbers and low unemployment rolls are underscoring the Fed’s optimism for the U.S. economy. Due to all this economic euphoria, the 1-year Treasury note yield hit a seven-year high in early October which directly affects mortgage rates. The 30-year mortgage rate is hovering around 5%, which is still very low in historical terms.
Of the 147 sales in September 2018, 67 sold for over $1,000,000 which equates to 45.6% of the total sales, up from 45% in August. The South Coast of Santa Barbara is not an inexpensive place to purchase real estate as compared to most areas of the United States, but again many people will pay more to live and invest in Santa Barbara. Of the 147 sales in September 2018, 21% (31) were cash transactions, down from 25% in August.
On September 25th the Conference Board reported that the Consumer Confidence Index stood at 138.4, up from 134.7 in August. Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board, stated “After a considerable improvement in August, Consumer Confidence increased further in September and hovers at an 18-year high.”
As of October 2018, data from Realtor.com indicates that 5 of the 20 Hottest Housing Markets in the United States were in California, ranging from San Francisco as #7 (down from #3 in September) to Stockton-Lodi at #19 (down from #13 in September). As of October 2018 the hottest housing zip code in California was in Berkeley and the lowest was in Ardin. To review the Realtor.com data, check out: https://www.realtor.com/research/reports/hottest-markets/ . Looking at the super-heated Seller’s market in San Francisco, it is not unusual to see listings generating multiple offers and being bid up much higher than the asking price; thanks to Kim Wiley with our Compass office in San Francisco for the following overbid data. Number 1 of the top 20 San Francisco overbids in August was a TIC (Tenants In Common) unit on 15th Street which was listed at $1,395,000 and sold for $2,403,375, 72% over the listing price. The 20th highest overbid on the list was a house on Plymouth Avenue which was listed at $1,888,000 and sold for $2,625,000, 39% over the listing price. To see Kim’s full list of San Francisco overbids check out https://www.compass.com/c/kim.wiley/august-2018-top-20-overbids?1536773003235 .
Historically the highest year-to-date September median sales price recorded on the Santa Barbara South Coast was recorded in 2007 at $1,031,500. The year-to-date median sales price for September 2018 was $980,000, down from $985,000 in August. The 2018 median sales price has been hovering near those historic high for most of the 2018 year.
As of October 7th in Goleta where there were 65 active House/PUD listings and 25 pending sales, which equates to only a 2.6 month supply of listings for Buyers to choose from. Generally under 3 months of inventory would be considered a Seller’s market and lower than 2 months points to a feverish Seller’s market. Historically a 4 to 5 month supply of available inventory would indicate a well-balanced market between Buyers and Sellers and typically over a 6 or 7 month supply would be considered a Buyer’s market. Based on Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service data and as of October 7th, Carpinteria/Summerland had a 5.8 month supply, Montecito had a 5.5 month supply, Santa Barbara had a 3.2 month supply and Hope Ranch had a 11.3 month supply. These inventory statistics indicate that the Goleta and Santa Barbara markets are still tilting in the Seller’s favor, while the Carpinteria/Summerland, Hope Ranch and Montecito market are tilting more towards a Buyer’s market. With a total of 113 House/PUD pending sales and only 427 active listings on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is only a combined 3.8 month supply (up from 3 in September) of House/PUD listings for Buyers to choose from. With a total of 46 Condominium pending sales and only 133 active listings on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is a 2.9 month supply (up from 2.7 in September) of condominium listings for Buyers to choose from. It is too soon to know how the Montecito disaster will affect Montecito values in the long term, but pressures on Hope Ranch and the upper price rangers of Santa Barbara and Goleta housing supply seems evident. Buyers do seem to be moving more cautiously than they did just a few months ago and some are taking their time assessing all the listing options along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County.
The ramifications of the Federal tax cuts, planned increase in government spending, limits on mortgage interest deductions and the Federal $10,000 limit on State tax deductions are now a concern to many Buyers along the South Coast of Santa Barbara. The median sales priced Santa Barbara home would translate to a real estate tax of $14,025/year. Other tax cuts may offset this limit deduction, but it would be a good time to meet with your CPA or financial advisor for advice on your own tax ramifications. Only time will tell how these new tax rules will play out. Supply and demand dynamics have and will continue to affect the South Coast of the Santa Barbara Real Estate Market for a long time to come.
Feel free to contact me with any real estate related questions.
Stan Tabler, CRS, GRI, ABR, GREEN
1002 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
CalBRE Brokers License #00774377 since 1980