The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury published a report this month regarding the inconsistent and unreliable nature of zoning information reports (ZIRs) which the City of Santa Barbara has for quite some time required on all home sales within city limits. Subsequent articles have been written by much of Santa Barbara’s news media. The Grand Jury’s report is quite detailed and eye opening, going into the history, original intent, inconsistencies, and currently outdated practice of the mandated ZIRs. To view the full report click here.
As Santa Barbara’s leading real estate company in home sales volume Village Properties has been instrumental in providing information that the Grand Jury has used to investigate and draw useful conclusions regarding the current ZIR process. There are 10 important findings and recommendations at the end of the Grand Jury’s report, in which a request for response by the City of Santa Barbara City Council is asked for within 90 days. One of the recommendations is that ZIRs become once again voluntary and for information purposes only as they were at their inception in 1974. Another is that the city certify each ZIR’s accuracy along with training their technicians well enough to do so.
The ZIR has been a significant part of the buying and selling process in Santa Barbara for a long time. We’re happy to see that the topic is getting attention and in the news so that constructive steps can be taken for improvement. I look forward to keeping you up-to-date with how this process may affect your next transaction in Santa Barbara and appreciate your inquiries.
The UCSB Economic Forecast Project hosted its 34th annual summit last Thursday at Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre. Attendance was large with many South Coast business elites packing the venue. News from the summit was that Santa Barbara’s economy looks to be headed in a positive direction for the next several years. Data regarding the area’s rising GDP, employment growth, new businesses and increased home values was shared. Percentage increases in agriculture, wine, clothing, retail, and building material sales was also given.
Key points presented at the recent economic summit also included the following: The real estate industry in Santa Barbara County currently accounts for the largest share of the GDP at 19%; A record breaking demand for housing caused rents to increase 7.1 percent last year, with an additional increase as high as 6 percent predicted for this year; Overall 2,692 jobs are expected to be added in the county this year, although most of those jobs will not be “high paying”. To read more news presented and details of the summit click here.
While Santa Barbara County’s economic figures are growing, its share of available housing has continued to stay at record low levels. The City of Santa Barbara permitted only 12 new residential units last year according to UCSB, and Carpinteria only 2. In addition, figures this week show that the currently available resale inventory in the Santa Barbara area is down over 12 percent from the same time last year. Amidst the low supply of homes I look forward keeping you informed of the very best property opportunities available throughout the year and appreciate your inquiries!
Recently CNN Money published that in the 100 largest metros of the US, 8 of the 10 fastest moving housing markets are in California, with San Francisco in the top spot. In conjunction, Trulia reported that 70% of the homes in the three top markets sold in two months or less. The full articles can be accessed here: CNN Money; Trulia.
Santa Barbara was not included in the survey because of its smaller population. If Santa Barbara’s under $1 million market segment were included, where only 40.7% of homes were still for sale after two months, it would rank #5 between San Diego and OC (Orange County). That’s impressive considering Santa Barbara’s higher median asking price of $819,000 in the low end range.
It’s important to stay in touch with how fast the real estate market is moving when buying or selling. I look forward to keeping you up to date with Santa Barbara’s local market trends throughout the year and appreciate the opportunity to assist you with your inquiries.
Santa Barbara is getting an early start on summer with great weather and the scheduled Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park this weekend. Sunny skies are predicted for the week, with perfect mid-70 degree temperatures. Real estate sales are also off to an early start this season with 67 out of 501 active properties going into escrow already this month. Of course what else would you expect in Paradise?
Here’s a list of the upcoming festivities that are just around the corner for Santa Barbara:
Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival – April 18-19 – Alameda Park
Vintners Festival Grand Tasting – April 25 – River View Park in Buellton
Santa Barbara Fair and Expo – April 29 – Earl Warren Showgrounds
Fork Fest – May 9 – Chase Palm Park
I Madonnari Street Painting Festival – May 23-25 – Old Mission
Santa Barbara Wine Festival – June 27 – Museum of Natural History
I look forward to seeing you in Santa Barbara amongst all the upcoming events, and to the opportunity of assisting you with any real estate needs.
The drumroll please …. the first quarter real estate sale numbers for Santa Barbara are in! It’s been a better than expected year thus far with some interesting trends. Looking at the the sale numbers, the following first quarter increases have occured for Santa Barbara and surrounding areas including Goleta, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, 2015 verses 2014.
Sold Volume Increase: 60% for homes; 84% for condos
Pending Sales (Under Contract) Increase: 22% for homes; 60% for condos
Number Sold Increase: 19% for homes; 42% for condos
Median Sale Price Increase: 7% for homes (currently $1,185,000); 7% for condos (currently $590,000)
The most interesting trend this first quarter has been that sales in the highest price ranges have increased the most. For homes and condos over $5M there has been an increase in sales of 170%. In comparison, the under $1M price range has only seen an increase of 15%. More inventory should bring more sales in the quarters to come, however the counterbalance could be that many homeowners will decide to stay in their current homes longer due to the finance and tax implications of moving. It will be interesting to see what trends the rest of the year brings. I look forward to keeping you up-to-date on the activities and also many great property opportunities along the way.
As outlined in a recent CNBC article many aging homeowners feel that the idea of downsizing is an attractive one. Homes with single level floor plans, good walkability to conveniences, low maintenance design, and security features are some of the most popular amenities desired and mentioned in the article. Developers certainly recognize what’s important to the downsizing segment of the real estate market and have been working on making the dream happen.
Two of Santa Barbara’s newest developments, Alma Del Pueblo and White Rose Lane, have taken into consideration what downsizing buyers have expressed interest in. Both offer single level floor plans and are in great walking locations. Smart design coupled with new construction also means low maintenance for years to come.
Alma Del Pueblo
White Rose Lane
With the many lifestyle advantages downsizing brings you might expect to see more development and sales of such convenient rich properties. Undoubtedly all good things come with a price, and luxury “move down” properties are no exception. A new 2 bedroom 2 bathroom Alma Del Pueblo condominium in the heart of Santa Barbara starts at $2.6 million, and a new 3 bedroom 3 bathroom home on White Rose Lane sports a price tag close to $2 million.
Housing sticker shock is not something new to Santa Barbara, although it has not typically been such a dilemma for potential move down buyers as it’s shown to be now. To complicate matters further, selling an expensive home which has been owned for years can cost an owner quite a bit in capital gains taxes. Other challenges include the potential increase in property tax base under some circumstances, and tough income qualifying standards if a loan must be obtained.
Downsizing is a simple concept, however with current tax rules, inflation, and financing regulations it can turn out to be a more complicated puzzle. Unfortunately lifestyle choices and dreams have been put on hold for many who have not found the right answers. If you find yourself in this category I welcome your inquires and the opportunity to assist you in succeeding with a comfortable lifestyle property transition. Quality of life is something we can all cherish and preserve in Santa Barbara.
If the first two months of 2015 are any indication of how the Santa Barbara real estate market will perform this year we should be in for a very active year of sales. January and February are typically two of the slowest months regarding homes going under contract, even though harsh weather in other parts of the country bring a lot of travelers looking for opportunities. An increase in second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.) home purchases from recent visitors has certainly added to the increase in sales we’re experiencing.
Current year-to-date home sale increases over last year are as follows.
Active Listings: +4%
Pending Sales: +40%
Sold Volume: +46%
Active Listings: +9%
Pending Sales: +45%
Sold Volume: +59%
The median sale price for both homes and condos in Santa Barbara so far this year has remained virtually unchanged, $1.16 million for homes and $560,000 for condos. This is in part due to many sellers pricing their properties aggressively in order to attract the most qualified buyers that know the market and have the means to purchase now, or wait.
The amount of inventory which becomes available over the next ten months will undoubtedly be the biggest factor on the total number of home sales this year. With eyes on the past several months of pending sales and activity one can certainly feel confident that now is a good time to buy or sell real estate in Santa Barbara.