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 May 2019
Single Family Residence Market
Median Sales Price = $1,288,500
Lowest Sale Price = $420,000
Highest Sale Price = $12,000,000
Median Sales Price = $695,000
Lowest Sale Price = $368,000
Highest Sale Price = $4,350,000
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
June 14, 2019
Direct from the County Recorder’s Office by way of Fidelity National Title, the total number of property sales on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County was up 11% from 173 in May 2018 to 192 in May 2019, the January-May median sales price was up 3% from 2018 to $1,042,500 in 2019 and the January-May average sales price was up 3% from 2018 to $1,546,982 in 2019. In May 2019 there were 135 House/PUD sales with a median sales price of $1,288,500 and an average sales price of $1,886,152. In May 2019 there were 57 Condominium sales with a median sales price of $695,000 and an average sales price of $801,982.
In Carpinteria there were a total of 15 sales in May 2019. The median sales price of the 5 House/PUD sales was $1,100,000 and the average sales price was $1,134,000. In May 2019 the median sales price of the 10 Condominium sales was $535,000 and the average sales price was $535,800. The lowest priced Carpinteria sale in May 2019 was a Condominium on Eighth Street @ $368,000 and the highest was a House on Gobernador Canyon Road @ $1,550,000.
In Summerland there was only one sale in May 2019: a House on Golden Gate Avenue for $1,375,000.
In Montecito there were a total of 22 sales in May 2019. The median sales price of the 19 House/PUD sales was $3,150,000 and the average sales price was $4,123,237. In May 2019 the median sales price of the 3 Condominium sales was $1,100,000 and the average sales price was $2,061,677. The lowest priced Montecito sale in May 2019 was a Condominium on Jameson Lane @ $735,000 and the highest was an Estate on E. Mountain Drive @ $12,000,000.
In Santa Barbara there were a total of 91 sales in May 2019. The median sales price of the 68 House/PUD sales was $1,286,750 and the average sales price was $1,502,390. In May 2019 the median sales price of the 23 Condominium sales was $747,000 and the average sales price was $871,391. The lowest priced Santa Barbara sale in May 2019 was a Condominium on Miramonte Drive @ $482,500 and the highest was a House on Shoreline Drive @ $4,671,000.
In Hope Ranch there were a total of 4 sales in May 2019. The median sales price of the 5 House/Estate sales was $5,690,000 and the average sales price was $6,053,750. The lowest priced Hope Ranch sale in May 2019 was a House on Estrella Drive @ $2,335,000 and the highest was an Estate on Via Abrigada @ $10,500,000.
In Goleta there were a total of 59 sales in May 2019. The median sales price of the 38 House/PUD sales was $990,000 and the average sales price was $1,128,066. In May 2019 the median sales price of the 21 Condominium sales was $716,500 and the average sales price was $672,762. The lowest priced Goleta sale in May 2019 was a Condominium on Hollister Avenue @ $405,000 and the highest was a House on Louisiana Place @ $2,606,000.
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 has softened, there are still a few areas where multiple offers are possible, but they have become few and far between. On the South Coast of Santa Barbara County as of June 6th there were 423 active House/PUD listings (up from 378 in May) and 114 active Condominium listings available for purchase (down from 125 in May). Generally, there is much more inventory available in the higher price ranges than in the lower ranges as 168 (39.7%) of the 423 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!
After having no bank-owned sales on the South Coast of Santa Barbara since September 2018, in March 2019 there were 3 bank-owned sales, in April there was 1 bank-owned sale and in May there were 3 bank-owned sales: a Condominium on Palmetto Way @ $459,900, a House on Portesuello Avenue @ 1,190,000 and a House on Hill Road @ $2,575,000. As of June 6th there is 1 bank-owned listing available for sale: a House on Painted Cave Road @ $2,695,000 (the same listing as in March, April and May). There are no bank-owned properties in escrow. During the last few years, the foreclosure activity along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County has diminished dramatically. CoreLogic’s latest (February 2019) reports that the national mortgage delinquency rate is now at its lowest point in nearly 2 decades: https://www.bloomberg.com/press-releases/2019-05-14/corelogic-reports-u-s-overall-delinquency-rate-lowest-for-a-february-in-nearly-two-decades . Also check out California’s foreclosure list by RealtyTrac: California Foreclosure Trends by County .
As of April 2019 (the latest data available from CoreLogic), the highest recorded County median sales price in California was in San Francisco County @ $1,400,000 (up 5.7% from 2018) and the lowest recorded County median sales price was in Siskiyou County @ $200,000 (down 7.4% from 2018). The median sales price in the County of Santa Barbara was $604,000 (up 9.8% from 2018) and the median sales price in the City of Santa Barbara was $1,230,000 (up 20.1% from 2018). The lowest median sales price recorded in any California city was in Angelus Oaks in San Bernardino County @ $30,000 (down 86.7% from 2018) and the highest was in Atherton in San Mateo County @ $11,500,000 (up 88.5% from 2018). You could buy 383 median priced houses in Angelus Oaks (maybe the whole town), 19 in the County of Santa Barbara or 9.3 in the City of Santa Barbara for the same price as 1 house in Atherton. If you care to see what you can buy in the Angelus Oaks area for $85,000 (a cabin) check out https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/49-Round-Cienega-Trl_Angelus-Oaks_CA_92305_M16860-14526?view=qv . If you care to see what you can buy in Atherton for $11,880,000 check outhttps://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/24-Stockbridge-Ave_Atherton_CA_94027_M11895-63632?view=qv . If you want to see a really cool house in Atherton that just sold for $21,000,000, check out https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/96-Ridge-View-Dr_Atherton_CA_94027_M15945-47151 .
The Federal Reserve (the Fed) raised the short term rate four times in 2018; the last raise was to 2.5% at their December meeting. As of the May 1st meeting, the Fed seems to have abandoned any further interest rate hikes in 2019. As signs of a cooling American economy, many economists now feel the it is not whether the Fed will lower interest rate, but when it will do so. Trade wars and tariffs are on the Fed directors’ minds. The 30-year mortgage interest rates are now down to the 3.75-3.85% range, far down from their recent high of 4.94% in November 2018.
Of the 192 sales in May 2019 there were 108 sales over $1,000,000 which equates to 56% of the total sales, up from 53.9% in April. 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 sales is about 20%; of the 165 sales on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County in April 2019 (they latest monthly data available), 26% were cash transactions.
On May 28th the Conference Board reported that the Consumer Confidence Index stood at 134.1, up from 129.2 in April. The highest recent Index levels were 136.4 in November 2018 and 137.9 in October 2018. Lynn Franco, the Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board, stated: “The increase in the Present Situation Index was driven primarily by employment gains. Expectations regarding the short-term outlook for business conditions and employment improved, but consumers’ sentiment regarding their income prospects was mixed. Consumers expect the economy to continue growing at a solid pace in the short-term, and despite weak retail sales in April, these high levels of confidence suggest no significant pullback in consumer spending in the months ahead.” The highest historical Consumer Confidence level was last seen in September 2000 when the Index stood at 142.5.
As for the cost of living, Numbeo compiles data for its cost of living index for major cities in the Western Hemisphere. Numbeo’s indices are relative to New York City, which means that for New York City, each index should be 100%. If another city has, for example, a rent index of 120, it means that on an average in that city rents are 20% more expensive than in New York City. If a city has rent index of 70, that means on an average in that city rents are 30% less expensive than in New York City. The highest City index on the 2019 list was New York (#1) @ 100, the highest City Index in California was San Francisco (#4) @ 91.67, the lowest City Index in California was Bakersfield (#45) @ 67.35, the lowest City Index in the United States was Boise, ID, (#79) @ 58.85 and the lowest City Index on the list was Caracas, Venezuela (#119) @ 25.01. This is a very interesting comparison list to check out: Cost of Living in the Western Hemisphere .
Data from the latest May 2019 realtor.com report indicates that 5 of the 20 Hottest Real Estate Markets in the United States were in California, down from 6 in April, 7 in March and 8 in February. The 20 top ranked California cities ranged from Sacramento as #5 to Santa Cruz as #19. It is very interesting to note that once again all of California’s Hottest Real Estate Markets are located in the Northern part of the state.
Historically the highest January-May median sales price recorded on the Santa Barbara South Coast was recorded in 2007 at $1,031,500. The May 2019 median sales price was $1,042,500. The current median sales price has now been hovering just below or just above the historic high for most of 2017, 2018 and now 2019. This is an indication of a leveling off in market values along the South Coast of Santa Barbara.
Based on the Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service, as of June 6th, in Goleta there were 74 active House/PUD listings and 35 pending sales, which equates to only a 2.1 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 is considered to be a Buyer’s market with many listings for Buyers to choose from. Based on Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service data and as of June 6th, Carpinteria/Summerland had a 4.7 month supply, Montecito had a 20.4 month supply, Santa Barbara had a 2 month supply and Hope Ranch had a 3.1 month supply. These inventory statistics indicate that Goleta and Santa Barbara are in a Seller’s market, the Hope Ranch market is fairly balanced, the market in Carpinteria/Summerland is heading towards a Buyer’s market and the market in Montecito is entrenched in a Buyer’s market. With a total of 128 House/PUD pending sales and only 128 active listings on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is only a 3.3 (up from 2.6 in early May) month supply of House/PUD listings to choose from. With a total of 60 Condominium pending sales and only 114 active listings on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County, there is only a 1.9 month supply (down from 2.1 in May) of Condominium listings for Buyers to choose from. It is too soon to know how the Montecito disaster will affect the Montecito values in the very long term, but the pressures on Hope Ranch and the upper price rangers of Santa Barbara and Goleta housing supply still seems to be very evident. Buyers do seem to be moving much more cautiously than they did just a few months ago and some are taking their time assessing all their options along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County. There is a very informative article by local economist Robert Niehaus on the impact of the January 9, 2018 debris flow on the Montecito real estate market, check it out at http://www.rdniehaus.com/rdn/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/RDN_Montecito-Debris-Flow_Housing-Market-Impact_03-19.pdf
The ramifications of the Federal tax cuts, planned increase in government spending, limits on mortgage interest deductions, rising insurance premiums, the trade tensions between China and Europe, the Federal $10,000 limit on State tax deductions and the memories of the fire damage & debris flows in Montecito are 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 $14,190 per year. Only time will tell how these new tax rules will play out and how they will affect our real estate values in the long run. Supply and demand dynamics have and will 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