First Quarter, 2004
2003 was an easy year to summarize for local real estate: (1) fewer properties
selling but for higher prices; and (2) the lower the price range, the stronger the market.
For the South County, median and average prices again posted double-digit gains in 2003. Our average priced sale is now over a million dollars ($1,023,599). Despite the increase in prices, once again the number of sales is down (7% compared to 2002 and 18% compared to 2000). Low inventory levels continue to be responsible for the decline in the number of sales. People are buying their homes with the intention of staying long term. Attractive fixed interest rates have changed many homeowners from a “move-up” to a “fix-up” mentality.
The Montecito Market
Montecito’s number of sales (286*) was consistent with the whole South Coast for 2003, dropping down about 7%. Median prices rose 8% to $1,622,500, but average prices remain virtually unchanged at $2,073,103.
It was a tough year for high-end properties throughout the Santa Barbara area. Once again, a troubling economy was more important to purchasers of larger properties than low interest rates. However, as the stock market rebounded, activity for estate
properties showed improvement as the year came to an end. This trend has continued into the beginning of 2004, and I expect the Montecito market to be stronger this year.