The only way to describe the Riviera real estate market in the first six months of this year is that it feels like being on a rollercoaster ride with unexpected twists and turns along with “white knuckle” anticipation of what might happen next. In my January report I suggested that “everything appears to be in place for another banner year in the Riviera real estate market...” This was definitely the case for the first 3 months until calamity struck in mid-March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The market essentially shut down for about 6 weeks after the quarantine was announced, as we waited to understand the ramifications of a world wide pandemic. However, towards the end of April the market started showing some signs of life and by mid-May we were off to the races.
Now that the crazy and unpredictable first half of this year is behind us we have a better perspective on what happened and how the rest of the year should play out. While the number of sales was down nearly 30% from the first half of 2019, the median price at $1,750,000 only suffered a 10% decline. Considering that the market was nearly non existent for the better part of March and April, these numbers illustrate how quickly things rebounded in May and June. What is truly astounding is that now in early August there are 12 pending sales with a median price of $2,250,000 and 26 active listings with a median price above that. If this pace continues we may end the year with a higher overall median price than 2019!
It may still be a bit premature to predict how the rest of the year will unfold with the unknows of a pandemic that is still prevalent not to mention an upcoming presidential election that will inevitably create some indecision. However, what is apparent now is that the Santa Barbara real estate market has benefitted tremendously as a result of this year’s turmoil. The increased demand for Santa Barbara real estate is unmistakable and a welcome trend that should continue for the foreseeable future.