After an unexpectedly slow start to the year, the Santa Barbara metro real estate market appears to be springing to life along with our flowering flora.
After a strong December, a number of factors may have contributed to the slow start. These include new qualified mortgage rules, which gave buyers using loans a hair cut in purchasing power, and new lower maximum Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loan limits.
There was also a dearth of lower-priced homes for sale, higher prices and a general exit of investors from the market.
Although a small time frame is not a reliable snapshot, it can provide a more immediate picture of housing trends. For the past 15 days, 55 single-family homes went under contract (pending) with a median list price of $1,349,000. For the same time period in January, 35 homes went pending with a median list price of $999,000.
That’s a 57 percent increase in homes going under contract, and a 35 percent increase in median list price for those homes.
Condo sales are improving, but more modestly, with a 30 percent increase in pending units for the same periods. The median list price of pending condos from the January period to the past 15 days increased from $517,000 to $549,500, or 6 percent.
Again, shorter time periods have greater sensitivity to market volatility, but this still demonstrates an improving current real estate market for condos and especially for single-family homes. Buyers should consider getting in now before conditions swing more in favor of sellers, and those looking to sell should feel comfortable that their homes, if priced right, will receive a warm reception.
As always, be sure the agent you work with is a Realtor.
— Ed Fuller is a real estate broker with San Roque Realty Inc. and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at [email protected] or 805.687.1551. The opinions expressed are his own.