Wednesday, October 31, 2007

September Appreciation Rates

I have just completed the appreciation rates for the South Santa Barbara County. This is a comparison of the median prices for homes and condos in the south county compared to the median price last year. Overall the south county saw a 6% increase in median prices in September of 2007 from September 2006. Santa Barbara was down 3% to $905,000 and Goleta was up 4% to $861,000. Montecito was up a whopping 31%. In Sept. 2006 the median price in Montecito was 2,247,500 and in Sept. 2007 it climbed to 2,950,000. Carpinteria did not see any change. It's median price stayed at $650,000. Hope Ranch only had 4 sales in Sept. 07 and saw a 169% increase in it's median price. Summerland saw a huge increase as well, but there was only 1 sale in Sept 07. It's increase was 142%. The entire South County had 110 sales in 2007 and 129 in 2006. It would appear that Santa Barbara is still a very desirable place to invest your real estate dollar. See You In Escrow!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Santa Barbara Counties Foreclosure Information

I took a few minutes today to see what the picture looks like for properties in various stages of the foreclosure process in Santa Barbara County. I used an online Dataquick account I have. I first wanted to look at the number of Notice of Defaults that have been filed. This is the first step in the foreclosure process where a trustee on behalf of a lender records a Notice of Default on a property. Borrowers sometimes pay the lender what is owed and then these Notices are rescinded. So a property can be in default more than once. I noticed that there have been a steady increase in the numbers over the last year. The numbers really jumped in July, which would coincide with the Credit problems everyone has heard about. The most recent months show the number of defaults around the 200 number for the county. I then looked at the number of Trustees Deeds that have been recorded. This document is recorded at the end of the foreclosure process and is when the bank takes back the property or an investor buys it. This number seems to have sputtered along until about June where it hit 36 and was followed by 40 in July. The next couple months show a small drop off. The final piece of the foreclosure puzzle is how many properties are banks selling after they have taken them back. That is represented by the number of REO deeds that are being recorded. Those numbers coincided with the number of Trustees Deeds. There were a few more of them from June to September. I am going to start comparing these numbers with the number of loans that are adjusting every month. That will begin in October and we'll see what direction that points this market in. I can tell you I have those numbers starting in October 2007 and ending in July 2008 and October and November are the biggest months during that time frame with loans adjusting. Hopefully that means we have peaked when it comes to these troubled properties. Let me hear your comments. See You In Escrow!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why Does Get So Much Attention?

I have to admit when Zillow first caught every one's attention I was one of those people. I immediately logged on and looked up my house and had Zillow tell me what it was worth. Zillow didn't do a very good job! It still showed my home being a 3 bed 2 bath home with 1316 square feet. We remodeled about 5 years ago and my home is closer to 2300 square feet now and it is a 4 bed 4 bath. Right off the bat this website struck me as something that needed a lot of work. I have been reading recently and Zillow keeps coming up along with another site name Trulia I have not spent any time on Trulia, so I'll do that later. So, I thought I would check back in with Zillow. It has probably been over a year and nothing on my house has changed and there are many sales in my area that aren't represented. I'm still not impressed. I did start poking around and saw that I could go in and change the information they had on my home. O.K. that's a start, but if other people don't do it then how is the pricing piece of the site going to be accurate? I then poked around a little further to see what homes are for sale and landed on a small Goleta Tract home priced at $799,000. The Zillow estimate of it's value was between $1,060,000 and $1,500,000. This amount of inaccuracy drives me nuts and I decided to say good bye again to Zillow, even though there seemed to be many other cool features to check out. I just can't see how a website that got all this attention for being a site where someone could determine the valuation of their home is still getting a bunch of attention. I guess I'll check back in again in another 6 months or so to see what is happening. In the mean time if you want to know the value of your home I would call a trusted real estate agent, of which there are many. See You In Escrow!

Friday, October 19, 2007

September Loan Activity In Santa Barbara

The loan activity for September was down significantly everywhere in the county. It didn't matter if you were looking at residential refinance or the purchase market the numbers were down in every area over 23% from August. I feel very confident that the credit crisis which hit us a few months back is one of the major reasons for this drastic decline in the market. The lenders have certainly tightened their belts and the property owners are feeling the pain. Santa Barbara's South Coast saw declines of 32% for residential refinances and 28.9% on purchase loans. In looking at the chart, you can see that the number of transactions hit a low for the year without any problem. Santa Maria's numbers were very similar with the residential refinance market dropping 35.8% and the purchase market dropping 23% and both setting a new low for the year. Lompoc wasn't any different, but it's drops were a little more significant on the purchase loans. They dropped 62% from the month before and the refinance market dropped 31% and again they set new lows for the year. I have been saying this for a while now and I am going to sound like a broken record, but if you are a buyer out there and you are sitting on the fence I think jumping in right now wouldn't be a bad idea. You certainly have plenty to choose from and not much competition. The rates are pretty darn good as well. If you are a homeowner and your getting pinched by your mortgage please call a mortgage professional to see what your options are. I have spoken to many myself and they can help. See You In Escrow!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Title Wizard? Not Yet!

I have to admit it took me a week or so to figure out how to approach this topic. If you didn't hear last week the Dept of Insurance in California in conjunction with The California Land Title Association launched a website aimed at consumers called TitleWizard. The site is in response to the DOI asserting that there is no competition in our industry and the way we do market our products is through an elaborate number of kick backs to builders, brokers and lenders. More on that topic on a future post. The new website will allow the general public to get a quick quote on a transaction they are doing. Essentially the site is pretty user friendly and lets a seller or agent or even a lender get a quick quote on title insurance. There are a few challenges that I think the site is going to face. First off, the information the quotes are being generated from needs to be accurate. My understanding is that each title ins. co. is responsible for putting in their own rates. Believe me, there is going to be a learning curve. I have noticed with my own company that some of the rates are not currently quoted correctly. Secondly if you are doing business in a county like Santa Barbara where the title co. not only produces the title insurance but the escrow service is done as well, a quote on escrow fees would be very important. The escrow fees are not posted on the site yet and that will probably take a bit of time. The last and probably not least of all these challenges is that if someone picks a company specifically because of the lower price and that company does not provide the services they were asked to provide I think the consumer is going to be faced with time, effort and possibly money to correct issues caused by a company that was chosen specifically because they were the low cost provider. I will continue to argue that the competition in my industry is based on service. This service by the professionals involved in my industry shouldn't be overlooked because of a few dollars. With respects to the protection someone is getting for our service the one time fee they are having to pay is a bargain. It will be interesting to see what complaints the Department of Insurance may get because they essentially recommended the low cost provider to someone that used the site to choose their Title Co. See You In Escrow!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Santa Barbara Vacancy Rates

The following is a summary of Vacancy Rates from the second to third quarter of 2007 provided by The Tuler/Gamberdella Team. Please contact them for any questions or for additional information regarding their statistics. They do a terrific job of providing and compiling them. Thanks Gentlemen!

Santa Barbara
Office Vacancy remained constant at 2.6% in the third quarter of 2007.
Industrial Vacancy increased from 0.4% to 0.6%.
Retail Vacancy increased from 1.3% to 1.5%.

Office Vacancy decreased from 4.8% to 4.2% over the last 3 months.
Industrial Vacancy decreased from 6.0% to 5.5%

Office Vacancy decreased from 12.4% to 6.2% in the third quarter of 2007.
Industrial Vacancy decreased from 2.8% to 2.6%.

North Santa Barbara County Sales For September 2007

The Santa Maria and Lompoc areas have been hit pretty hard this year by the amount of foreclosures and bank owned properties that are on the market. The prices have declined, the inventory has grown and the number of sales has continued to drop. September was no exception. There were 102 transactions in that area which isn't the lowest number for the year. January had that with only 100 sales. I am going to sound like a broken record, but I think that if you are waiting for the market to hit bottom you may be missing the boat. There are homes to choose from, sellers are negotiating and rates are low. This sounds like the perfect time to buy. I think if the agents can get that word out and the press starts picking up on that the tide will turn. See You In Escrow!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Santa Barbara September Real Estate Sales

The numbers have been tallied, can I get a drum roll please, there were a total of 110 sales in the South County in September. Can you say I'm glad that is over. That is the slowest month of sales I can remember in the 20 plus years I have been here. I guess it shouldn't come as much of a surprise with everything that has been going on with the credit crunch and the negative news that has been spreading about real estate. The other bit of news that sort of softens the blow is that October of last year wasn't much better. I still am of the opinion that buyers should be getting serious NOW! There is plenty of inventory, prices have declined, rates are good, and sellers are willing to negotiate. If people are waiting to see what happens, I think they may be missing some good opportunities and may be part of the pack that comes out of the gate early next year competing for the most desirable properties on the market. There really weren't any areas of the South County that performed any better than others. Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria and Goleta were all down from last years number of sales. I will put up the North County numbers tomorrow so check back for those. While you are here you may want to check out my post about Active Rain. There is a ton of agent networking going on you may be interested in. See You In Escrow!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Is Worth The Money?

I just went to a presentation done by which promoted their enhanced marketing programs. I was a littel surprised at the turnout. There were probably about 60 agents in the room at the Doubltree. I will say that they certainly are a well run group that puts on a good presentation that is professional and informational. Being a person who works for a title company I had not been exposed to their programs in quite some time. It was very good to hear that their listings are featured on sites like MSN, and the Wall Street Journal. I would think it was also very good to know that they received 5.7 unique users per month. I would think it was also very useful to know that listings with multiple photos are viewed more often than ones without photos. The one thing that I really would think makes an agents decision difficult is there aren't any real guarantees that any of their plans will do anything but get you some exposure. It seemed like the same old sales pitch I can remember from Newspaper advertisers or Radio stations. The pitch was basically we put you in front of more potential customers than anyone else. If you spend more money (and in some cases it seemed like a lot of money) you can increase your exposure which will give you a better chance of capturing customers. The other approach they took was to give an agent some tools to impress potential listing customers with, which in turn should generate more listings. I would love to hear real world experiences that anyone is having to hear whether signing up for the Featured Homes, or Featured Communities Marketing Systems is worth the pretty price tag they are asking for. See You In Escrow!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Have You Checked Out Active Rain?

I have been holding off getting involved with this Real Estate Community. I'm not sure why, but maybe I was intimidated. There are a ton of members, and many of them are very active. I'm just getting my feet wet, but I see it as a place where agents can discuss many different topics. It would appear that information flows pretty freely between them as well. One agent helping another with marketing ideas or how to generate more referrals. I do see the occasional affiliate of which I am one. Many of them are using this community to network and educate the members on ideas or services that they run across. It is well organized and as a new member they even have a new members group. There is an active rain guide to help you with almost anything you might be interested in doing with your membership. The main focus of this community is blogging. There are over 51,000 members and at any given time usually thousands are online. Check it out and if you do decide to sign up you can use me as someone who referred you by clicking on the following link I will receive some points that increase my ranking in their system if you do sign up using that link. Thanks!

See You In Escrow!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Searching For Real Estate In Santa Barbara County

I was having a hard time coming up with a blog topic today. Then I thought maybe some people are interested in a quick review of what comes up when you search for real estate in Santa Barbara County. So I decided to use google and typed in "Santa Barbara Real Estate", next "Montecito Real Estate", "Goleta Real Estate", "Carpinteria Real Estate", "Lompoc Real Estate", and finally "Santa Maria Real Estate". If you just look at the non sponsored links that come up you have to give credit to Gary and Laury Woods for being listed in the top 10 in all the South County areas. Other observations were that Homes and Land Magazine shows up pretty frequently. shows up as well as Trulia on a number of pages. Yahoo was probably one of the more recognizable sites that showed up in most of the searches. Other than that there are a number of agents doing a good job of getting in the top 10. One thing I did notice was that there are not any Association Websites showing up. Now on to the sponsored links. I'm sure I'm going to leave someone out. That is why I put in the links above so you can see for yourself who is making the top 10. Many of the sponsored links are real estate sites like home gain, or home finder. There are also a number of larger real estate companies like, Coldwell Banker, Village Properties, Sotheby's, and It was surprising to find some agents like Suzanne Perkins, Kevin Schmidtchen, and Dana O'Neill spending money to be a sponsored link. One local office that was certainly noticeable was Distinctive Real Estate.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

California Association of Realtors Legal Blog

I just read about this on the Inman News blog. What a great service Neil Kalin has started. He has begun a legal blog giving examples of legal issues and then asking agents to comment on them. He has begun this under the premise that he can learn what is truly going on in the market today. I spent about 15 minutes this morning reviewing some of the issues and I found it very informative. If I'm not mistaken he started his blog during September and has posted about 6 topics for discussion. They range from foreclosure vs. short sale, to firpta and how withholding is handled. It was very interesting reading some of the comments and follow up questions that real estate agents had. One issue this brings up for me is do I go to his website every day and look to see if he has posted anything new? I don't have to, because I have recently discovered a new tool called a reader. I'm a bit late to this game I know, so forgive me if you already knew about this tool. Google has provided me with an online reader that scans my favorite blogs to let me know if anything new has been posted. So I just have one place to look for my news. Here is a link to that handy tool. All you need is a Google Account. See You In Escrow!

Monday, October 1, 2007

August Dataquick Single Family Residence Statistics

Dataquick has released it's sales statistics for Southern California, and I have to tell you the price changes were surprising to me. Los Angeles County showed 9.1% increase in the Single Family Residence median price for August 2007 vs. 2006. The condominium median price also showed an increase of 4.3%. I really expected a county like Los Angeles to be getting regular price decreases. The Counties that are having a hard time maintaining their median prices are Ventura, Santa Bernadino, Riverside, while San Diego and Orange were pretty flat. Santa Barbara showed no change in the single family home price while the condo market was down 2.44%. I am including the chart for Santa Barbara that Dataquick has. I would really suggest clicking on the chart to see all the variations in the different markets within our county. They are pretty large in some cases. For the entire Southern California market click here.