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Business

Santa Barbara County Real Estate Market Shows Bright Spots

Fewer foreclosures and lower interest rates are driving up sales, leaving a low inventory that could hinder sales

The real estate market in Santa Barbara County is improving mostly along statewide lines, with fewer foreclosures and lower interest rates that are driving more people into the housing market.

Home sales declined across the state and county last month, with overall year-over-year median sales prices mostly increasing, according to state figures.

Overall 2012 home sales, however, are on the rise countywide. So much so, that Realtors believe the lack of inventory is the biggest issue they face in this year of market recovery.

At the county level, Realtors say some median home prices have gone up due to low supply, and short sales — transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property — seem to be increasing.

Santa Barbara median sales prices are down about 3 percent, with the median price of condos down 6 percent, according to Gary Woods, a statistician for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors.

Homes sales, however, are up 35 percent from last year, Woods said, and condo sales are up 65 percent.

He expected median prices to increase because of supply and demand.

“Bright spots have been a huge number of sales,” said Woods, who also works for Home Realty Investments. “At this point the inventory is very, very low. We’re going to basically run out of homes. At this particular point, there have been very, very few repossessions.“

Woods said there are about 370 single-family homes in the Santa Barbara area, with 150 of those in Montecito and most others at the high end of the price range.

Santa Maria and Orcutt Realtors are experiencing the same boost in sales, with a slight increase in median prices because fewer homes are on the market.

D’Ann Bartley of Prudential Realty noted fewer foreclosures this year and a mere 93 listings in Santa Maria and Orcutt area.

“Prices are very stable in the Santa Maria Valley,” Bartley said. “I’ve got buyers, I just can’t get them a house fast enough. Our market I feel is really good. Houses are staying on the market for much shorter periods of time.”

In Lompoc, Remax realtor Bobbie Ranney said she has about 50 condos, houses and mobile homes for sale, with a boost to home values.

Sales from Goleta to Carpinteria have gone up 40 percent over last year in the first nine months of 2012, Ed Edick, co-owner Village Properties, told Noozhawk.

People may be feeling more optimistic after four years of lackluster home sales, he said.

“When it turned around, it turned around really with vengeance,” Edick said of the market. “Certainly this year we’ve had just a huge increase in sales. There’s nothing that indicates to me that the fourth quarter is going to be any different. The general climate is much stronger.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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