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 2020
Single Family Residence Market
Median Sales Price = $1,725,000
Lowest Sale Price = $454,500
Highest Sale Price = $44,500,000
Median Sales Price = $802,500
Lowest Sale Price = $340,500
Highest Sale Price = $2,750,000
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 15, 2020
Direct from the County Recorder’s Office by way of Fidelity National Title, the total number of residential sales on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County was up an amazing 74% from 156 in September 2019 to 272 in September 2020. In September 2020 there were 201 House/PUD sales, up an amazing 90% from 2019, with a median sales price of $1,725,000 and an average sales price of $2,859,868. In September 2020 there were 71 Condominium sales, up 42% from 2019, with a median sales price of $802,500 and an average sales price of $914,654. In a combined total, there were 1,416 residential sales from January through September which is down 4% from 2019, with a median sales price of $1,176,000 which is up 17% from 2019.
In Carpinteria there were a total of 15 sales in September 2020, down from 18 in August. In September 2020 the median price of the 11 House/PUD sales was $1,329,000 and the average price was $3,745,727. In September 2020 the median price of the 4 Condominium sales was $481,000 and the average price was $502,125. The lowest priced Carpinteria sale in September 2020 was a Condominium on Via Real @ $400,000 and the highest was an oceanfront House on Padaro Lane @ $23,750,000.
In Summerland there were a total of 5 sales in September 2020, down from 6 in August. In September 2020 the median price of the 4 House/PUD sales was $2,505,000 and the average price was $2,502,500. In September 2020 the price of the one Condominium sale was $850,000. The lowest priced Carpinteria sale in September 2020 was a Condominium on Banner Avenue @ $850,000 and the highest was an Estate on Ladera Lane @ $4,000,000.
In Montecito there were a total of 56 sales in September 2020, up from 38 in August. In September 2020 the median price of the 48 House/PUD sales was $4,209,000 and the average price was $6,005,104. In September 2020 the median price of the 8 Condominium sales was $1,712,500 and the average price was $1,610,250. The lowest priced Montecito sale in September 2020 was a Condominium on The Fairway @ $875,000 and the highest was an Estate on Picacho Lane @ $44,500,000.
In Santa Barbara there were a total of 122 sales in September 2020, up from 98 in August. In September 2020 the median price of the 87 House/PUD sales was $1,500,000 and the average price was $1,724,379. In September 2020 the median price of the 35 Condominium sales was $839,900 and the average price was $955,311. The lowest priced Santa Barbara sale in September 2020 was a Condominium on Via Real @ $454,500 and the highest was a House on Ontare Hills Lane @ $5,695,000.
In Hope Ranch there were a total of 9 sales in September 2020, down from 8 in August. In September 2020 the median price of the 9 House/PUD sales was $3,400,000 and the average price was $6,005,104. There are no Condominiums in Hope Ranch. The lowest priced Hope Ranch sale in September 2020 was a House on Paloma Drive @ $2,100,000 and the highest was an oceanfront Estate on Marina Drive @ $7,675,000.
In Goleta there were a total of 65 sales in September 2020, up from 50 in August. In September 2020 the median price of the 42 House/PUD sales was $1,012,500 and the average price was $1,196,393. In September 2020 the median price of the 23 Condominium sales was $690,000 and the average price was $685,391. The lowest priced Goleta sale in September 2020 was a Condominium on Armitos @ $367,000 and the highest was a House on Mockingbird Lane @ $2,900,000.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected our daily lives, but also how everyone buys and sells real estate. Open houses and Broker Caravans are not allowed and serious safety protocols are in place for in-person by appointment only showings of listings. Due to virus concerns many Sellers have completely cancelled their listings for a time and this only exacerbated the lack of housing inventory on the market for a while. Although unemployment rates remain high @ 8.4%, historically low mortgage interest rates and the pent-up Buyer demand for housing is driving values of real estate upward on the South Coast. It would seem that one of the unanticipated side effects of COVID-19 is that folks are fleeing from highly populated areas to more lightly populated areas such as the South Coast. We have been tracking where the Buyers are coming from and at least 40% are coming not only from out of the County, but also many from out of State and a few from out of the Country.
A limited supply of available properties along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County is keeping values higher than one might expect, even taking into account the effects of COVID-19, as compared to many inland areas of California and most areas of the United States. Along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County as of October 2nd there were 234 active House/PUD listings (down from 242 in September) and 73 active Condominium listings available (down from 77 in September). Historically there has been much more inventory available in the higher price ranges than in the lower ranges; as of October 2nd 48.3% of the 234 active House/PUD listings were located in the higher valued Montecito and Hope Ranch areas. Compare the current low totals to the inventory levels from 2007 to 2011 when the total number of active listings ranged 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 1,297 active listings available.
During each month of 2019 and 2020, sales of bank-owned properties ranged between zero and three. There has been only 1 bank-owned sale along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County in 2020. As of October 2nd there were 3 bank owned listings for sale on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County: an Estate on Hidden Valley Lane @ $4,695,000 (reduced asking price), Cresta Avenue @ $3,050,000 (now in escrow) and a house on Las Positas Place @ $979,999. There have been a few distress sales, but foreclosure sales along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County are few and far between. To check out California’s foreclosure by county, visit this RealtyTrac link: California Foreclosure Trends by County .
As of August 2020 (the latest data available from CoreLogic), the highest recorded County median sales price in California was in San Mateo County @ $1,467,500 (up 13.8% from 2019) and the lowest recorded County median sales price was in Siskiyou County @ $224,000 (up 15.6% from 2019). The median sales price in the County of Santa Barbara was $689,000 (up 18.4% from 2019) and the median sales price in the City of Santa Barbara was $1,517,500 (up 30% from 2019). Other than residential fire-lot sales, the lowest median sales price recorded in any California city was in Calipatria in Imperial County @ $45,455 (no data from 2019) and the highest was in Atherton in San Mateo County @ $6,925,000 (down 17.1% from 2019). You could buy 152 median priced Houses in Calipatria, 10 in the County of Santa Barbara or 4.6 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 Calipatria for a mere $49,900 check outhttps://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/133-E-California-St_Calipatria_CA_92233_M16391-50263 . If you care to see an Estate you can buy in Atherton for $6,995,000 check outhttps://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/439-Walsh-Rd_Atherton_CA_94027_M25633-98496 .
The Federal Reserve (the Fed) raised the overnight rate four times in 2018 with the last raise to 2.5% in December 2018 and then in 2019 the Fed lowered the overnight interest rate numerous times, thereby reversing all of 2018’s rate increases. At their September 2020 meeting the Feds’ chairperson Jeremy Powell said “My sense is more fiscal support is still likely to be needed,” said Powell. “Roughly 11 million people are still out of work due to the pandemic…and they’ll need additional support as they find their way through a tough time.” In what appears to be a major policy shift, the Fed is likely to keep interest rates at existing low levels much longer than analysts had recently predicted. As of October 2nd you could get a $510,000 30-year fixed rate loan at 2.92%, or less. Historically the lowest 30-year mortgage interest rate since 1970 was recorded in 2012 @ 3.31%, so we are now setting close to a new average low @ 2.92%. The highest mortgage rate was recorded in 1981 @ 18.63%. If you were able to obtain a $510,000 mortgage in 1981, your payment would have been $7,949/month; today it would be $2,128/month.
Of the 272 sales in September 2020 there were 181 over $1,000,000 which equates to 66.5% of the total sales. 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. According to Forbes the national average for all cash real estate sales is 20%; on the South Coast in September 2020, 28% were cash sales, down 47% in August. See the attached list of the 272 properties sold on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County in September 2020 and/or contact me for more information on specific sales.
On September 29th the Conference Board reported that the Consumer Confidence Index stood at 101.8, up from 86.3 in August. In recent years the highest recent Index level recorded was 137.9 in October 2018 and it was recently as high as 132.6 in February 2020, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. Historically the highest Consumer Confidence Index level was recorded in September 2000 when the Index stood at 142.5. “Consumer Confidence increased sharply in September, after back-to-back monthly declines, but remains below pre-pandemic levels,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “A more favorable view of current business and labor market conditions, coupled with renewed optimism about the short-term outlook, helped spur this month’s rebound in confidence. ” To see the full report: https://conference-board.org/data/consumerconfidence.cfm .
As for the cost of living as of September 1, 2020, Expatistan has compiled data from 220 major metropolitan areas worldwide. Expatistan’s list indicates New York, NY at #5 is the most expensive area in the USA with a Price Index score of 246 and Memphis, TN is tied with Albuquerque, NM at #126 as the least expensive with a score of 122. Of the top 25 most expensive areas worldwide, 4 are in California: #7 San Francisco @ 238, #14 Oakland @ 212, #21 Los Angeles @ 201 and #22 San Jose @ 197. The most expensive area to live in the world is #1 Hamilton (Bermuda) @ 283 and the least expensive is #220 Coimbatore (India) @ 51. Santa Barbara is not on the list as Expatistan has not rated it as a major metropolitan area. This is an interesting list to check out if you care to compare the cost of living in cities around the world: https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/index .
As of October 8th, Danielle Hale, a Senior Research Analyst at realtor.com compiled these national property sales statistics:
- Median listing prices grew at 12.9 percent over last year, marking the 21st week of accelerating prices and a new high-mark for price growth in our weekly data which goes back to 2017. During a normal year, asking prices begin to dip going into the fall as the types of homes for sale shift and sellers have to do more to attract a buyer from a smaller pool of shoppers, but 2020 is not following this usual seasonal trend, and the typical September asking price remained at $350,000, on par with peak summer home prices.
- New listings were down 7 percent. The number of sellers deciding to put their home on the market remains limited, but the drop in new sellers is not as large as the overall decline in inventory, which means new listings are a growing share of total listings–providing some small relief for option-starved buyers.
- Total inventory was down 38 percent. With high interest from buyers and limited flow of new listings, the total number of homes available for sale continues to shrink. For the third week in a row the pace of decline was even or improving. We’re a long way from a buyer’s market, but this is a buyer-friendly shift.
- Time on market is now 13 days faster than last year. With low inventory and a large pool of buyers, homes sell much faster than a year ago. The rapid turnover reflects the unseasonable excess of buyers in the housing market this fall, and will likely persist until sellers come back in a bigger way.
Historically the highest Year-to-Date median sale price recorded on the Santa Barbara South Coast was recorded in 2007 at $1,031,500. In September 2020 the Year-to-Date median sale price was $1,176,000 up from $1,150,000 in August. The median sale price has been hovering near that historic high for most of 2017, 2018, 2019 and now has been hovering just above that high in 2020. The September 2020 average sale price was $1,830,137, which is just above the highest historical average sale price recorded in 2007 at $1,787,898.
Based on the Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service, as of October 2nd, in the City of Santa Barbara there were 80 active House/PUD listings and 87 pending sales, which equates to a .92 month supply of listings for Buyers to choose from. Generally up to 3 months of inventory would be considered a Seller’s market where demand is high and inventory is scarce; lower than 2 months of inventory points to a feverish Seller’s market. Historically a 4 to 5 month supply of available inventory would indicate a fairly well-balanced market between Buyers and Sellers. Typically 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 see everything on the market. Based on Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service data and as of October 2nd, Carpinteria/Summerland had a 1.05 month supply, Montecito had a 2.94 month supply, Goleta had a .61 month supply and Hope Ranch had a 1.86 month supply. These inventory statistics indicate that Carpinteria, Summerland, Hope Ranch, Santa Barbara and Goleta are in a very feverish Seller’s market with less than a month’s worth of inventory. Montecito is in a Seller’s market. These supply levels are all extremely low for all of the areas, but it is extremely interesting to note just how low the supplies are in Montecito with a 2.94 (down from 4.8 last October) and Hope Ranch with a 1.86 month supply (down from 16.5 last October). With a total of 181 House/PUD pending sales and only 234 active listings on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is only a 1.3 month supply of House/PUD listings from which to choose. With a total of 67 Condominium pending sales and only 73 active listings on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is a 1.1 month supply of Condominium listings from which to choose.
The ramifications of the concerns about COVID-19 and how it has & will affect our world, government spending in response to COVID-19, home insurance availability & rising premiums, trade tensions, the tumultuous stock market, demonstrations, the Federal $10,000 limit on State tax deductions and the memories of the fire damage & debris flows in Montecito are concerns to many Sellers and Buyers along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County. That being said, pent-up demand for homes along the South Coast (from national and international Buyers), low interest rates, and low inventory have boosted real estate values along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County. COVID-19 has actually increased real estate values as Buyers appear to be flocking to the “safe haven” of the Santa Barbara area. The current lack of available inventory in all areas along the South Coast is driving values upward. As always, 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
801 Chapala Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
CalBRE Brokers License #00774377 since 1980