Santa Barbara Area Real Estate Activity
We have needed the heavy and steady rains that we received in the first quarter of this year. It has turned our hillsides and our yards into beautiful blooming gardens. But with all that rain, it apparently did not deter active buyers and sellers in the real estate market – this first quarter Santa Barbara real estate report will give an insight into just how active the market has been.
In the graph below, we see that the number of sales for houses (single family homes and Planned Unit Developments) is fairly average compared to the last 16 years. The same can be said for the number of sales of condos, though a bit on the high side. We expect to see that once the Village at Los Carneros starts to close their escrows, there will be a real impact on the number of sales.
In the following graph, you will see that the current median year-to-date is less than last year’s median at this time. Back then, it was noted that it was somewhat of an anomaly and we did see that median come down over the course of the year. As of the end of 2016, the median was $1,150,000. The current year to date median being $1,181,683, is about a 3% increase from the end of the year. It could be noted that the current median is the third highest we have seen in the first quarter over the last 16 years. Again, this figure only represents 3 months of sales. With the additional sales that we will see over the next few months, it will be interesting to see if the median continues on a steady upward slope.
The condo median is also a bit lower than last year in the same time period, but it is the fifth highest over the same 16 year time frame.
In the chart below, there is additional information for just the month of March and also year-to-date. It’s broken down into general areas around Santa Barbara. The number of Active Listings for houses is 361 and is overall quite low, though it has been lower at different times over the years. In fact, at the end of 2016, there were only 294 active listings. The current active listings are further broken down by price range later in this article. For condos, 85 active listings is a moderate number. In the past, it has been much higher.
The Months of Inventory (MOI) at 3.7 for houses has gone down slightly since the last quarter. All of the areas have seen a decrease except for Montecito. When the number of months is under 3, that implies that the market is favoring the seller. If the number of months is between 3 and 6, that represents a steady, balanced market. Anything over that, then the market is favoring buyers.
The MOI is also down for condos at 2.0. There does seem to still be a strong market for condos and the number of available condos is dwindling. Having 42 in escrow does show a strong sign of desirability. This is not a property type we want to run out of because for many new homebuyers, this is their starter home.
Let’s compare the number of sales and median price of houses as of the end of March to last year in the same timeframe:
Note that the number of sales in Hope Ranch tends to be quite low, due to the small size of the sampling. Because of that, the median price can take some very wide swings for that area.
As a matter of information, the following table compares the number of all closed sales of houses over the last two years, by price range.
The following table gives you an idea of the price ranges where the available inventory resides compared to last year in the same time frame:
We continue to see a decline in the available properties under a million. Many barely hit the market before going into escrow. We also see a continued rise in the $2M-$4M price range. Within that range, we did see a favorable showing of those properties selling this past quarter.
There are so many things that can affect the real estate market. The Fed Funds rate has gone up 25 basis points since the beginning of the year. There are potential plans to increase it at least two more times this year. Other factors are the new administration, more uncertainty on the foreign horizons and the continued strength of our economy. With so much uncertainty at present, it is best to stay positive.
There are always people who either need or want to sell, and we still have a great pool of buyers anxious to buy in our lovely area. If you or someone you know is thinking of selling, buyers are anxious to see what is new coming on the market. Be sure to contact your Village agent who can guide you through the process.
A huge thank you to Carol Kruckenberg of Village Properties for this article. Information in this report is based on data provided by the Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service and is deemed to be reliable but not guaranteed.