Housing market booming on Central Coast
One of the most surprising things during the pandemic has been happening just over the last few weeks.
While businesses all over are trying everything they can to remain in operation, the housing market, especially on the Central Coast, has been seeing a boom since mid-June and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
“Yes, it’s completely shocking,” Renee Grubb, owner of the Montecito-based real estate firm Village Properties, told the News-Press over the phone.
“We are seeing jaw-dropping numbers and showings and they really started spiking in June.”
According to statistics provided by Ms. Grubb, pending sales are up 45% from last year for Village Properties for the month of June and the median sales are expected to go up as well as houses continue to sell.
In specific neighborhoods for the month of June, all the houses in Montecito that would have taken an average of nine months to sell are now all being sold in about three months.
“I can remember a time where in Montecito, there was inventory in the market that would take two years to sell, and now, I am quoting you just a bit over three months,” Ms. Grubb said.
Available houses in the Santa Barbara area are selling after about only a month and a half, compared to three months a year ago. In Goleta, houses are sold in about a month.
Pending sales are up across all three neighborhoods as well, up 70% in Montecito, 43% in Santa Barbara and 20% in Goleta.
“Houses under $1 million has always been pretty robust because you have more of a pool of buyers so those don’t stay on the market quite as long, but we are seeing houses in Montecito, Hope Ranch, and beautiful areas of Santa Barbara are very attractive right now because they have a lot of space and people want that space,” Ms. Grubb said.
At the start of the pandemic, Ms. Grubb, and realtors across the county, were seeing what they feared — an initial dip in demand.
“The market in March and what we experienced is that a lot of people were just frightened of the unknown. Some properties fell out of escrow and we had buyers saying they didn’t want to go into strangers homes and some sellers not wanting strangers in their homes,” Ms. Grubb said.
“Once we got used to what was going on and we learned more and we saw the precautions being put in place, people became a lot more comfortable.”
Knowing this, Ms. Grubb quickly implemented new safety precautions for showing properties and conducting real estate transactions to reduce any risk of virus spread and help buyers and sellers feel more safe.
“I was one of the first real estate offices to open but I was very conscientious of what needed to be done. Everyone carries a thermometer, if people come into our office we have to ask them a list of questions before they enter and take their temperature, we ask people to use hand sanitizer or wash their hands, and we are wearing our masks but that’s just here in our office,” Ms. Grubb said.
“When we are showing a house, number one, it has to be by appointment. No one is allowed to show up because before we can show the house, we ask the seller to sign a form confirming they do not have the virus.
“We then ask those who visit the property to do the same. We ask people to wear masks, use hand sanitizers. We provide wipes for all our agents to clean and we ask buyers to try not to touch anything and if they do, we quickly wipe it. And in between every showing, we wipe everything down.”
Those precautions have certainly paid off, as sellers and buyers are starting to come back.
One of the other shocking things about the market right now is that Ms. Grubb and a lot of her realtors are selling houses to people out of the area.
“So many of them are saying they haven’t had a local person even see their properties. It’s been people from Los Angeles, San Francisco or even the East Coast that’s coming and I think it’s because they are looking for the different communities Santa Barbara offers,” Ms. Grubb said.
Ms. Grubb added that sellers have a variety of different reasons as well. Some said they want to move closer to their family, while others have thought about selling and downsizing for years and see that now is the perfect time.
“With the market the way it is right now, I think a lot of people are thinking now is a good time to sell. We don’t know what next year or even six months will bring so that might contribute to why people want to sell,” she said.
While no one can predict when this boom will end, Ms. Grubb is confident that Village Properties is prepared to continue helping those buy or sell their homes through the end of the year.
“It’s hard to predict… but everyone is seeing this will likely go through the holidays and you never know what the year’s going to bring, but we are probably okay through the rest of the year,” Ms. Grubb said.
“The most important thing for our community to know is that, as realtors, we are doing our best to keep them safe and so if there’s anyone out there thinking about buying or selling, let us know and we would be happy to help.”
Those interested can visit www.villagesite.com or visit the office at 1436 State St.