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Red hot Santa Maria housing market a concern for city leaders

House for Sale

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The rising prices of housing in Santa Maria is raising some concern within city government.

At the city's annual State of the City forum held on Wednesday morning, City Manager Jason Stillwell spoke about the housing market, which he described as "red hot."

Longtime Santa Maria realtor April Hugh, who works for Century 21 Hometown Realty agrees with Stillwell's assessement.

"That's very accurate," said Hugh. "This is probably the hottest market I've seen in the 23 years I've been doing real estate in Santa Maria."

According to numbers shared by the city, Santa Maria is seeing continued price appreciation, with numbers reaching record levels.

"The housing market is very strong in Santa Maria," said Mark van de Kamp, We've seen year-over-year appreciation of nine percent. We're up to $450,000 for the median price, year-to-date through August, and some places are going for over half a million dollars."

In 2019, the median price of a house was $397,500. In 2020, the median price rose 9 percent to $430,000, and this year, it rose another 9 percent to $450,000.

"It's extremely competitive out there," said Hugh. "Very low inventory. It's historic. We just have very few homes on market, so there is a lot of buyer activity out there and it's just real fierce. There's several offers per property. People are getting into bidding wars and properties are selling for well over for what they were listed at."

Hugh pointed out buyers from outside the Central Coast are helping drive up prices.

"People from the Bay Area, down south, Santa Barbara," said Hugh. "People are coming in with cash that can work remotely and they're kind of squishing out the buyers here locally that are getting financing or just can't go as high with the prices."

An indication of just how strong the housing market is a statistic that shows are remaining on the market for just 11 days.

"That's remarkable," said van de Kamp. "A year ago it was 17 days for one of the zip codes, 93454. It was 35 days for 93458. They're both down to 11 days. Houses go on the market and they're turning rapidly."

According to Zillow, the median price of a home in Santa Maria during the month of August was $527,000.

While the escalating prices are good news for sellars, city leaders also pointed out there are significant drawbacks as well.

"That's putting a lot of pressure on Santa Maria because we want to be the location for the regional workforce," said van de Kamp. "We are. We have a lot of commuters that go from Santa Maria down to Santa Barbara or up to San Luis Obispo County because this is where they can afford."

As the city grapples with the housing shortages and escalating prices, Hugh offers some support for buyers, especially those looking to purchase a home for the first time.

"It is challenging, definitely, but my advice to these buyers is to hang in there," said Hugh. "We are getting predictions that we're going to start to see a little more inventory, but it's going to be gradual, so maybe in beginning of next year, 2022 to the springtime, we're going to start to see more inventory. My suggestion would be, buyers hang in there, your time will come. Don't give up!"

To view the Santa Maria State of the City, click here.

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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