REAL ESTATE UPDATE, Alyssa Ann Jones
For two years, the market was running at warp speed.
Then, with the uptick in mortgage rates and volatility in financial markets, there was a noticeable pullback in the real estate market.
However, despite national headlines, Santa Barbara continues to hold its value as current and prospective homeowners recognize the allure of living in paradise.
If you have been on the fence about purchasing a home, here are some important things to consider:
— The value of long-term thinking and planning:
Santa Barbara’s median price in 1990 was $271,500. In 2021, the median price was $1.5 million. This means the market appreciated, on average, 6.3% per year over those 32 years. In 2022, the median home price was $2,104,000, a 12% increase over 2021.
If you see yourself living in your new home for five, seven or 10-plus years, the long-term appreciation will likely create positive equity for you. One of my favorite sayings is, “Time in the market, not timing the market.” Nobody can truly predict where the market will go in the short term, and timing the market is next to impossible.
History shows us that buying earlier (time in the market) can be more lucrative than waiting for a significant decline (timing the market) — both in the quality of life it provides and your equity down the road.
— Playing fields are leveling:
In 2022, sales were down 35% over 2021, but so was inventory. Month to month, we have seen the number of pending and closed sales directly track that of new listings. Local months of supply have fluctuated between one and two months, with four to six months being considered the market neutral. This highlights the fact we are still in an undersupplied market and need more homes for sale.
Yet while this makes for a sellers’ market, the tides have begun to turn in favor of buyers. Buyers have started to see more negotiating power and days on the market have begun to increase, allowing them the time needed to make educated decisions.
— Rates are changing:
The No. 1 concern of most buyers is what is going to happen to mortgage rates.
Here is what we know. Rates have officially hit their lowest level in four months. The Fed is expected to keep increasing its Fed Funds Rate (different than the mortgage rates) to get inflation under control, but at a slower pace in the first part of 2023. This has directly impacted mortgage rates, allowing them to begin to drop.
This response to inflation data is due to rates being based on bonds and inflation directly impacts the returns on bonds. Reports of good news on the inflation front have longer-term rates like mortgages showing hope for the future.
It is important to remember rates change. Another favorite saying is, “Marry the home, date the rate.”
— Pay your mortgage, not someone else’s:
Historically high rents are feeding the buyer pool. Evaluating rent-vs.-buy calculations and the pros/cons of renting vs. buying leaves many buyers understandably eager to enter the market. With rents consistently increasing and rentals becoming harder to come by, purchasing a home provides certainty that renting cannot.
And think about it. Unless you are living rent-free, you’re paying a mortgage. Either yours or someone else’s.
So how can you put your best foot forward?
— Partner with an experienced, local real estate agent:
Purchasing a home is a major decision and will always be one of, if not the most, significant financial transactions you make. Having someone you can trust to help you do so is vital.
Working exclusively with an experienced, local real estate agent will aid you exponentially. Finding an agent with whom you connect personally is paramount, as it facilitates your entire experience.
Our fiduciary duty is to act in your best interest, but our passion drives us to do so. We are here to find the right property for you, your budget and your timeline, as well as manage the process through closing and beyond. Working with an agent allows you access to pocket listings and the most up-to-date property information. Our wealth of knowledge on local market trends, neighborhoods, negotiation and paperwork is invaluable, and our relationships with other service providers and agents are essential. This is only a fraction of what we do.
Not to mention a reduction in stress levels. Need I say more?
Note: Many first-time home buyers don’t realize there is a differentiation between a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent. (You don’t have to work with the agent selling the home, and generally, it is in your best interest not to). Connect with an agent before you start your search, not after.
— Seek off-market opportunities:
Working with an agent immersed in the market can help you identify off-market opportunities or the infamous “pocket listings.” This gives you a head start on other buyers and ultimately increases your chances of getting the home you want. As mentioned, inventory is still exceptionally low, so getting ahead of your competitors with this information is critical.
— Partner with a lender and explore ways to lower your interest rate:
Down payment assistance programs, rate buy-downs, buyer concessions, receiving multiple quotes, ARMs, and refinancing are a few of the many ways to achieve lower interest rates. A great lender will be committed to helping you navigate your options.
Part of our job as real estate agents and your trusted advisers is to help you partner with a lender that is well-versed in these areas. Getting pre-approval for a mortgage is an integral part of the home-buying process and speaking with a lender will help you determine the monthly payment you can afford. Preliminary conversations come with no strings attached, allowing you to explore your options confidently.
You got this. It’s Santa Barbara. Chances are if you look outside right now, the sun is shining, you’re sitting somewhere between the ocean and a stunning mountain range, and you are in a position to be considering purchasing a home. With the above knowledge, a little confidence, and the right team on your side, your dreams will come true.
Wishing you a beautiful 2023.
Alyssa Ann Jones is a Realtor with Village Properties along with her partner John Sener (together: Sener Jones Associates). With family roots in Santa Barbara dating back to 1878, Ms. Jones deeply connects to and understands what makes this community special. Together they offer 40 years of experience and a unique, trusted and powerful brand of expert knowledge with an extensive suite of services. For more information, go to senerjonesassociates.com.