Now that the “year of the pandemic” is officially in the books, I am sure that most of us are thrilled it is over. 2020 was a year full of anxiety, fear and disappointment. One of the few bright spots, however, was the Santa Barbara real estate market which benefitted tremendously from last year’s turmoil.
Six months ago, I reported that in the first half of the year we suffered a dismal decline in the number of sales and median price due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. In the same article I stated the following: “towards the end of April the market stated showing some signs of life and by mid-May we were off the races.” I am now happy to report that this momentum not only continued but accelerated through the next several months leading to the best year on record in the Riviera real estate market. The final tallies show 112 sales which is a 20% increase from 2019 and a new all time high median price of $2,150,000 – up 12% from 2019! The mid-range and high end of the market were the big beneficiaries, as the number of sales nearly doubled in the $2 to $3 million category as well as the properties in excess of $4 million.
We are now early in the first quarter of the new year, and there is an interesting dynamic at play which is curtailing the continued strength of this momentum. In short, the demand for Riviera real estate is still firmly in place however there is an extreme shortage of inventory to satisfy this demand. Homeowners seem to be reluctant to sell their properties even though we are experiencing one of the most epic “seller’s markets” that I have witnessed in my 33 years of selling homes in Santa Barbara. Properties that have come on the market so far this year are generating an enormous amount of interest, and in some cases are getting bid up to unprecedented levels. As of this writing my advice to Riviera homeowners is that if you have any thoughts of selling in the near future, you may want to take advantage of this current dynamic before there is an inevitable shift to a more balanced market.