South County & Montecito Show Signs of Slowing

Montecito’s first-quarter real-estate sales performance improved somewhat over 2005, but most of the progress was seen in home sales above $5 million. South County real estate results, for the first quarter of 2006, supports those experts who have been predicting a return to a slower and more normal real estate market.

New listings for South County and Montecito increased during the first quarter of 2006. South County saw new listings grow 22% over prior year, rising above 400 for the first time in a couple of years. Montecito, ended the first quarter with101 new listings, 20 more than last year’s 81.

The “Montecito Median” for the first quarter was $2.495 million, which represents a 5% increase over 2005’S $2.375 million for the same time period. South County’s median price was $1.175 million, nearly identical to last year’s first quarter median of $1.170 million.

One of the more interesting elements in Montecito real-estate sales for the first quarter was the increased activity in home sales above $5 million. Twelve of the forty-three homes sold in Montecito through the end of April were sold for over $5 million. Last year at the same time only 5 of the 50 homes sold exceeded the $5 million purchase price. 209 homes were sold in the South County through the first quarter, down slightly from last year’s 218 sales.

The largest property sale recorded for Montecito during the first quarter of 2006 was a $15-million Mediterranean with 6 bedrooms and 5 baths on nearly 3 acres. This two-story home was built in 2005. South County’s largest home sale for first quarter was a 17-acre oceanfront Carpinteria property located on Padaro Lane that features 2 modest homes, a polo practice field, and numerous equestrian facilities. It sold for $28.5-million. The most affordable home sale occurring during the first quarter was located in Santa Barbara and is described as a Craftsman style, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home built in 1960; it sold for $655,000.

Reviewing the condominium market the numbers suggest that first quarter results were mixed with South County arguably performing a bit better than Montecito.

Montecito’s median price for a condominium at the end of the first quarter was $1.395 million, for a 3.8% drop in comparison to prior year’s $1.45 million. Condominium sales above the $1 million mark decreased from 11 to 6 during the same time period and total number of sales were also slower with 7 sales versus 2005’s first quarter total of 12. Total dollar volume of sold listings for the condominium market dropped significantly to $10 million in comparison to first quarter last year’s $20 million.

South County’s condominium market experienced a 43% increase in the number of new listings for the first quarter relative to last year, (223 versus 156) and a 4.5% increase in the median price for a condominium ($689,000 versus $659,000). The number of sales declined (77 versus 87) leading to a 29% drop in total revenues. The range of condominium sales recorded for the first quarter was from $403,000 to $2 million.