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A beautiful fall in Santa Barbara

September 16, 2014

With sunny skies and mid-80 degree temperatures it’s hard to believe that fall will be descending on Santa Barbara next week. Of course epic weather is not unusual for the area even through the beginning months of winter. It’s a great time of year to be visiting and looking at properties, especially those with fantastic views. If you’ve not had the opportunity to experience Santa Barbara at this time of year I highly recommend that you do.

Following are a few upcoming activities you can add to your outdoor calendar in-between house hunting and enjoying the great Mediterranean climate Santa Barbara has to offer.

California Lemon Festival at Girsh Park in Goleta – Sept. 20 from 10am-6pm and Sept. 21 from 10am-5pm

SOL Food Festival at Vera Cruz Park in Santa Barbara – Sept. 27 from 10am-8pm

California Avocado Festival in Downtown Carpinteria – Oct. 3 from 11am-10pm, Oct. 4 from 10am-10pm and Oct. 5 from 10am-6pm

Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival at Santa Barbara’s Harbor – Oct. 11 from 10am-5pm

Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest Weekend at the Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang – Oct. 10 from 5-10pm, Oct. 11 from 11am-10pm and Oct. 12 from 10am-8pm

Santa Barbara Beer Festival at Elings Park in Santa Barbara – Oct. 18 from 12-4pm

As fall begins home inventory in the area is looking good and buyer competition has tapered some. I hope to see you out and about enjoying the phenomenal weather, scenery, activities and real estate opportunities that the coming season is geared to bring.

When is the best time to buy?

September 2, 2014

With the competitive summer real estate market now at its end Santa Barbara is heading into a new season with so far little change in housing inventory, interest rates and prices. So when is the best time to buy? From an investment standpoint it makes the most sense to buy when others aren’t. Santa Barbara County has historically had the lowest number of real estate closings happen in October, November, January and February, with it not being unusual for December to yield the highest number of closings for the year. If history repeats itself then the optimal timing to place an offer on a property is this month and next. By November more buyers will be placing offers, with their respective escrows closing in December.

Another great time to buy is when a property you’ve been looking for comes on the market. The phrase “timing is everything” rings true when rare opportunities present themselves. I listed a property last Thursday for a client and the very next day talked with a buyer’s agent who had a client waiting for that type of property to become available. An offer was submitted by the buyer and their agent within the next two days, with start of escrow soon to follow.

Please contact me if you do see a property that you’ve been waiting for. There’s nothing more gratifying than obtaining a home you really like and have had your sights on for a while. I enjoy bringing you the best property offerings available and appreciate your inquiries.

Attractive loans for Santa Barbara homes

August 19, 2014

The median price for a Santa Barbara home has been well over $500,000 for quite some time, surpassing the $800,000 mark in 2003, and the $1 million mark in 2004. These price points are significant in way of jumbo loan financing. In 2008 the conforming loan limit for Santa Barbara County went from $417,000 to $729,750, with a lowering to its current level of $625,500 in 2011. As a result today’s loans above $625,500 involve non-conforming jumbo loan financing.

Buyers have traditionally paid more for jumbo non-conforming loans because they’re harder to sell on the secondary market to investors, but in 2013 the tables turned due to banks having more deposits than loans. Supply and demand certainly lowered the cost of borrowing more money. At the same time, in an effort to scale down on conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac federal officials have been raising fees (known as “g-fees” or “guarantee fees”) charged to lenders. As a result today’s non-conforming jumbo loans are averaging about .25 percentage points less than smaller amount conforming loans. By contrast in 2008 non-conforming jumbo loans were costing consumers 1.8 percentage points more!

Today’s lending environment bodes well for more expensive Santa Barbara real estate, with lower interest rates in place at the higher loan amounts. Tougher qualifying standards also enter into this equation, so taking care to choose a seasoned loan agent who can help you though the process is all important. I’m happy to refer you to some of Santa Barbara’s finest lenders upon request. I look forward to your inquiries and to assisting you in getting the best terms and price for your home in paradise.

Current trends in Santa Barbara

August 5, 2014

July saw 96 home sale closings in the Santa Barbara areas of Carpinteria (5), Summerland (1), Montecito (23), Santa Barbara (39), Hope Ranch (4) and Goleta (24), as compared to 115 home sales last July.

Of the 96 homes sold this July:
57 closed over $1 million vs. 54 last July
15 closed over $3 million vs. 5 last July
5 closed over $10 million vs. 0 last July
37 sold at or above asking price vs. 47 last July
37 sold in 10 days or less vs. 36 last July
14 sold after just one day on the market vs. 10 last July

Also, the average number of days on the market for a home this July was 51 vs. 42 last July and the median sale price for a home this July was $1,178,500 vs. $962,500 last July.

It’s amazing how much of a jump total sale dollar volume has taken – $215 million this July vs. $145 million last July, while the total number of sales are down almost 17%. This emphasizes that much more expensive homes are selling this summer in Santa Barbara. Recent sale figures also illustrate that really good listings are selling faster, and average listings are taking longer to sell than last year.

I look forward to keeping you up-to-date on interesting market trends and best buys in the Santa Barbara area throughout the year and always welcome your impressions and inquiries.

Homes of all sizes

July 22, 2014

The 2013 film “Tiny” that documents a couple’s attempt to build a Tiny House on a very small budget and with no building experience is receiving a lot of recognition in the movie industry. Vendors such as the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company offer such homes for sale, and dozens of websites and blogs with designs, plans and discussion of tiny houses are appearing all over the Internet.

Over the past 10 years in the Santa Barbara area there have been 7 homes sold that measure less than 600 sq.ft. by the county tax assessor. The smallest being a 440 sq.ft. house that was built in 1915. Selling prices of these compact dwellings have ranged from $350K to $850K. Right now the smallest home on the market is 664 sq.ft. listed at $742K. This is a bit more expensive the tiny house prices you’ll find on the Internet, in which a piece of Santa Barbara land is not included.

In areas where land values are at a premium it may be hard to justify the tiny house concept. More commonly you will find modest homes ranging in size from 750 to 1,200 sq.ft. With well-incorporated outdoor spaces these dimensions can feel quite large. Year-round mild weather gives Santa Barbara residents great opportunities to maximize the use of all their property, indoors and out.

Whether your preference is small or large there are many homes on the market that may fit your needs. I appreciate the opportunity in helping you find the best property and look forward to your inquiries.

First half numbers for Santa Barbara

July 8, 2014

It’s been an interesting year for real estate in most areas of the country and the first half numbers for Santa Barbara are now in. Following are some of the most significant figures which certainly confirm that the market is slow moving but appreciating due to demand. The lower number of sales can be attributed to the continuation of historically low inventory and increasingly difficult lender qualifying standards.

Home Sales: 670 in 2013; 535 in 2014
Condo Sales: 229 in 2013; 205 in 2014
Homes Under Contract: 722 in 2013; 587 in 2014
Condos Under Contract: 235 in 2013; 226 in 2014
Home Median Sale Price: $950K in 2013; $1.16M in 2014
Condo Median Sale Price: $495K in 2013; $550K in 2014

These numbers are representative of Santa Barbara and surrounding communities which include Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito, Hope Ranch and Goleta.

As the year progresses I look forward to keeping you up to date on the latest market trends and available properties in and around Santa Barbara. If there’s a particular neighborhood, type of property, or price range that you’re focusing on I’m happy to provide you with detailed information that would be helpful. Your inquiries are appreciated.

Most sought after locations

June 24, 2014

There have been several articles published recently regarding the rise in demand for housing near city centers. One of the more interesting articles can be found on Yahoo Finance – Click here. This information reminded me of why Santa Barbara is such a great lifestyle destination location. With downtown Santa Barbara being only minutes away from most properties in the area there’s a comforting connection felt between the beautiful city and its residents. Just as convenient for all to enjoy are the beautiful beaches, mountain ranges, public parks, and endless walking and biking trails.

The nearby communities of Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito, and Goleta which are all within single digit miles from Santa Barbara also contribute their own convenient city centers, villages, shopping districts and outdoor amenities. A common request from potential homebuyers new to the area is to tour only properties that are close to shopping and within a few miles of the beach. That includes just about everything! In addition to having many close attractions, the accessibility is enhanced by Santa Barbara’s near perfect Mediterranean climate considered by many as the best in California. With typically over 300 sunny days per year and daily high temperatures averaging from the mid-60s to the mid-70s year-round it’s incredibly comfortable to walk anywhere, anytime.

With so much to offer in way of convenience it’s easy to understand why the phrase “location, location, location” is fitting for Santa Barbara area real estate. I look forward to hearing from you regarding which location best fits your needs and appreciate your inquiries!

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