Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, November 21 , 2018, 8:57 am | Mostly Cloudy 60º


Median Home Prices Soar as Santa Barbara County Inventory Dwindles

South Coast sees 15 percent jump in price, with North County figures up 13 percent

It’s a seller’s market on the Central Coast and across the country, as median home prices soar above last year’s averages and home owners armed with cash and low interest rates consider jumping into the mix.

The national median existing-home price for January was $173,600, up 12.3 percent from January 2012 and the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases, according to the National Association of Realtors.

That January gain is the strongest since November 2005.

The median home price in Santa Barbara County was up year-over-year by more than 30 percent in January, according to real estate data. The median price of 284 home sales was $340,000.

Locally, the rise in the median home price — the point at which half of all homes sold for more and half for less — can be attributed to a low number of homes for sale, many buyers fighting for the same properties, and others looking to take advantage of low interest rates and paying with cash.

In Santa Barbara and Goleta, the median home price is up 15 percent from a year ago, according to Gary Woods, a statistician for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors.

The median is even jumping month-to-month. February’s median home price was $930,000, compared to $830,000 in January, Woods said.

Fewer short sales and foreclosures have helped improve the median, as well as the shortage of homes for sale, he said.

“It’s dramatically better, year over year,” Woods said. “The big fly in the ointment is the inventory. At some point, supply and demand has to kick in. The thing that’s gone away is the repossessions, which was the thing that was suppressing the sales prices. We’ll just have to see.”

There are 280 homes for sale in Santa Barbara and Goleta, down 25 percent from last year, he said. Half of all sales are paid in cash, and about 25 percent of all sales are going for over asking price — about 7 percent over, Wood added.

Home buyers in the North County are facing the same obstacles, which is why the median prices are acting accordingly. Real estate data shows the median home price of 97 sales in Santa Maria in January was $220,000, a 13.11 percent boost from January 2012.

D’Ann Bartley of Prudential Realty said there are a mere 89 listings in Santa Maria and Orcutt, compared to 175 at this time last year.

Bartley said home sellers are getting “multiple, multiple” offers, and even pledging full price doesn’t necessarily cut it.

“Our major problem up here, like everyone in California, is lack of inventory,” she said. “It’s just really tough right now to be a buyer. It’s going to continue, too, as long we have this shortage of inventory.”

Patricia Griffin of Village Properties in Montecito cautioned against putting too much stock in the median price because it fluctuates easily and doesn’t reflect depreciation.

“The median price is a reflection of the current sales activity, which are at higher price points than a year ago,” Griffin said. “The feeling is that the we have turned a corner and that prices have firmed.”

She said she was glad to see the number of Montecito home sales in 2012, which nearly matched those of 2000.

“There is a pent-up demand as buyers decide to come off from the sidelines and enter the real estate market again,” Griffin said. “I would predict another record year in 2013 as long as our inventories can keep up with the demand.”

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.