SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The country is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped people from buying homes, particularly in the Santa Barbara area.
Renee Grubb, owner of the locally based real estate agency Village Properties says demand for residential homes is higher than ever, and it’s keeping area realtors on their toes.
Buyers are coming to Santa Barbara from larger cities in California such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as from other parts of the country including New York, Dallas, Seattle, Miami and Denver.
“The Santa Barbara area has always attracted home buyers from other regions because of its small-town feel, gorgeous surroundings, and unbeatable weather,” said Grubb. “Now with the pandemic and many people working from home, more people are assessing their priorities and looking to move away from large urban areas to enjoy a better quality of life.”
Almost 1,500 homes were sold in the Santa Barbara area in 2020--that's a 14% jump from 2019. The largest increase occurred in Montecito where home sales soared 69%.
Prices are also climbing. The median price for a home in south Santa Barbara County rose 17% last year to $1.2 million. In January and February, the median home price rose 34% compared to the same period last year, pointing to accelerating price increases.
The median price of sales in Montecito in January and February rose over 60% from one year ago, proving that the high-end market is particularly vigorous. Also demonstrating the strength of the market, the median price in Santa Barbara for January and February increased 30% from one year ago, to $1.5 million. Across south Santa Barbara County, sales of homes priced over $1 million jumped 54% during the first two months of 2021 compared to a year ago.
These annual percentage increases are well above the historic averages.
Complicating the picture is an extremely limited supply of homes for sale. That is due in part to some homeowners who are wary of COVID-19 infection risk from letting potential buyers visit their homes, Grubb said.
Village Properties has shifted a large part of its operations online, including hosting open houses virtually instead of in person, but that hasn’t allayed everyone’s fears.
She’s hopeful more sellers will feel comfortable putting their homes on the market once vaccinations become widespread and life starts returning to normal.
Grubb sees demand for homes continuing to accelerate in 2021. Sales in January and February were up 15% over the same period in 2020. Many properties were sold off-market, which means they weren’t listed on a real-estate platform. This option provides more privacy for sellers.
For information on Village Properties, you can visit their website.