Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Evidence Of The Credit Crunch

It appears to me that the definition of a credit crunch consists of 2 things. People getting more and more in debt and institutions not willing to refinance that debt or lend money at all.

So, where are we in Santa Barbara County?

In the communities on the south coast, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, & Carpinteria the number of refinances that closed in November is 20% of what it was just a year ago. To put it another way, it is down 80% from a year ago. That is a staggering number when you think about when this credit crunch began. It began in August or September of last year. If you look closely at the chart you will see that the average refinance amount is huge. That is attributed to a 68 million dollar refinance that Wachovia recorded. WOW!

Is the news any different in Santa Maria? NO!
The volume of loans there is down about 80% from the previous year as well. The only difference in Santa Maria is that in the last 5 months the purchase loans have outnumbered the refinance transactions. I would think that is a good sign, since most of those purchase loans are buyers, buying bank owned properties.
Now how different is the Lompoc area? NOT MUCH!
They are in the same situation that Santa Maria is in. Refinance volume is down over 80% from last year and there are more purchase loans than refinances and have been for the last 5 months.
I am not sure if this will change in the near future but I can say with certainty that the number of refinances in process right now has increased dramatically. We will have to wait and see if the properties are able to appraise or the borrowers are able to qualify.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Lenders Are Still Land Barons

Whether the lenders want to be or not they are land barons these days. Countrywide had been winning the race of who takes back the most properties every month until November. They only had 4 on this months list.

Washington Mutual was the big winner with 8 properties, but Deutsche Bank came in a close second with 7. There were only a total of 85 properties taken back in November.

There were a handful of properties on the list that had gone in to default back in 2007 but for the most part most of the properties the lenders took back had been defaulted on since May or June.

Only 13 of those properties had loans over $500,000 with only 1 being over 1 million at $1,348,319. 14 properties on the list were in the Santa Barbara, Goleta areas with the remaining 71 properties being in the Santa Maria and Lompoc areas.

Check them out on the map below.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

November Sales Turn Cold!

There are certainly many records being set in the financial world these days. Real Estate is no different. The number of Santa Barbara area homes sold in November is another all time low as far as I know. I did have my hopes up that the last quarter of this year would see more sales than last year.

Two months in to the last quarter of the year and the Santa Barbara Real Estate Sales are 3 transactions behind where they were last year. Come on December! In 2007 there were 93 transactions in December. After seeing what we opened as a company in November it is going to be close. We have a number of transactions that are wanting to close by the end of the year, so there may be a small surge.

So what did sell in November of 2008? The highest priced sale was a property in the Carpinteria, Montecito area at 915 Cima Del Mundo for $6,500,000. That has become a pretty hot area for the well to do recently. Other than that Montecito had the usual 2, 3, & 4 million dollar sales.

The rest of the South County saw pretty normal sales prices and nothing really out of the ordinary for this market. Santa Barbara, Montecito, & Carpinteria all had fewer homes sell this year than last. Goleta was the one area that saw a small increase in home sales over last year.

Check out your favorite area on the map below.

Friday, November 21, 2008

October, Best Month Since June For Sales

October's real estate transactions hit 126 for the Santa Barbara area. June of 2008 had only 1 more transaction, and the highest number of sales in a given month this year was 135 in April.

Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, and Montecito are communities that will always be desirable places to live. This is helping to deliver a consistent level of home sales. The buying season is usually from March to October and this year only 18 transactions seperated the high and low monthly sales number for that period.

Can the stock market say that? I know my 401k can't say that, or should I say my 101k. Like any good investment, demand is part of the magic that makes it go up in value. The demand for Santa Barbara property this year has not been what it had been in years past, but the consistency makes me believe the demand has found it's bottom.

The supply has been pretty consistent as well, so if the demand begins to build next year then the price of homes may have reached it's bottom. I know there is a ton of unanswered questions with respects to our economy, but if what I am hearing is correct, then real estate may lead us out of this downturn and some of the signs I'm seeing are giving me hope.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Lenders Continue Their Foreclosures

October in Santa Barbara County saw lenders take back 109 properties countywide. That number is significantly lower than August or September where there were 211 and 208 respectively. That has to be good news for someone.

There were 17 properties total for the communities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, and Montecito. That is about a 20% decrease from the prior 2 months.

Lompoc saw only 20 or so properties in there area and Santa Maria continues to be the foreclosure captital in Santa Barbara County with 70ish properties going back to the bank in October.

The majority of the loan amounts appear to be below $500,000 with many in the $200,000 to $300,000 range. In the south county the number was split between homes and condominiums. In the northern part of the county there were very few condominiums.

Countrywide continued to have the most properties on the list, but they didn't overwhelm the list like they have in the previous months. Make sure to check out the map below to see more details for the properties and areas you are interested in.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

October Home Sales In Santa Barbara

October in Santa Barbara isn't about the leaves turning color or the chill in the air, it is about the surfers getting excited for the winter swell.

I happen to love this time of year, the views are incredible and so are the sunsets. The real estate market usually cools down in the 4th quarter as people begin to focus on the holidays ahead.

So what did sell in October?

Carpinteria saw 13 transactions according to CORT. In looking them over, many of them appeared to be condominiums. There were 3 transactions that closed that were part of a new complex that appears to be almost sold out.
  • 4357 Carpinteria Ave. #3 sold for $500,000
  • 4365 Carpinteria Ave. #6 sold for $600,000
  • 4367 Carpintera Ave. #7 sold for $600,000
Goleta saw 37 properties transfer in October. I didn't see a real trend as to the types of properties changing hands, but I can tell you the median price is $650,000. That is sounding pretty darn affordable based on recent years. The highest priced sale was for a commercial building at 5050 Hollister for $3,500,000. The highest priced homes that sold in Goleta were both on Vereda Del Ciervo. 260 sold for $1,450,000 and 445 sold for $1,500,000. 

Montecito saw 14 properties transfered and only 2 of them were under $1,500,000. The higher priced sales were;
  • 36 Seaview Dr. for $3,300,000
  • 1444 School House Rd. for $3,250,000
  • 2694 Sycamore Canyon Rd. for $3,000,000
There were a whopping 60 properties that sold in the city of Santa Barbara. That is a good solid number and the types of properties appear to be very diversified.

The highest priced properties on the list CORT reported were both in Summerland.
  • 3517 Padaro Ln for $6,150,000
  • 2375 Finney St. East for $8,000,000
Thats the sales news, enjoy viewing the map and finding out what properties sold in your neighborhood and what they sold for.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Santa Barbara Commercial Industrial Vacancy Rates

Below is the latest report from the Radius Group on local Commercial and Industrial Vacancy Rates.

Radius Group Commercial Real Estate is pleased to provide the RADIUS GROUP SOUTH COAST 3rd Quarter 2008 REVIEW for the commercial markets of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria. Included in the report are the largest leased properties and largest vacancies in each city during the 3rd Quarter 2008.

The following is a summary of Vacancy Rates from July 2008 to October 2008.

Santa Barbara
  • Office Vacancy increased slightly from 3.8% to 4.3%.  
  • Industrial Vacancy increased slightly from 0.4% to 0.6%. 
  • Retail Vacancy remained the same at 1.2% to 1.2%.

  • Office Vacancy remained the same at 9.0% to 9.0%. 
  • Industrial Vacancy decreased slightly from 4.9% to 4.8%.
  • Office Vacancy increased from 2.8% to 3.9%.  
  • Industrial Vacancy decreased 8.4% to 5.8%.  
Please contact Bob Tuler, Paul Gamberdella, or Gene Deering for any commercial real estate related needs. 

Radius Group Commercial Real Estate

205 E. Carrillo Street, Suite 100
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

T: 805-965-5500 Ext.121
F: 805-965-1150







Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lending Activity In Santa Barbara

It has been a couple of months since I updated my charts on lending activity in Santa Barbara. Not much in the way of change. Purchase loans are still happening and refinance loans are really slowing down.

I'm trying to figure out what is causing the refinance loans to slow down. I'm coming up with a number of scenarios.

  • First, it could certainly be what we would all expect. Property values are down and loan rates just aren't that appealing when you compare them to the rates we got accustomed to in the 5% range.
  • Second, maybe banks aren't lending the way they once did. Qualifying for a refinance loan today is certainly more difficult than in the past and this is the banks way of saying we don't want to give you any money.
  • Another possibility could be borrowers just aren't feeling the need to refinance. They have figured out pulling money out of their homes might not be a good idea, and or their interest rate is still pretty good.

It's probably a combination of many things some of them probably weren't mentioned. If you have a thought feel free to share it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lompoc And Santa Ynez Valley Home Sales

I'm seeing a recovery going on in the Lompoc area. With 64 properties selling in September. Most of them being homes.  I'm sure that the increased home sales are not just a short term trend. 21 of these properties sold for $200,000 or less. Another 21 sold for $300,000 or less, and 22 properties sold for over $300,000.
It would appear to me at first glance that the 2 higher priced sales in Lompoc were commercial buildings.
  • 1225 N. H St. $1,050,000
  • 129 W. Central $1,500,000

Moving on to the Santa Ynez Valley area, there wasn't much activity. 7 sales in total with 4 of the 6 being $1,600,000 or over.
  • 2920 Bramadero Rd. $1,600,000
  • 3080 Montecielo Rd. $1,775,000
  • 1080 Viendra Rd. $2,050,000
  • 1925 Still Meadow Rd. $2,300,000
What is being seen in the Lompoc area is indicative of what I'm hearing about across southern california and the country. There are many areas, most of them the ones that were hit hardest by foreclosures that are now seeing activity because of the the low prices. Having the volume of sales increase is the first sign things are going in the right direction.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Santa Maria Home Sales Continue Their Brisk Pace

While the stock market has been the topic du jour. The northern part of Santa Barbara County has been doing a great job of showing signs of a real estate recovery.

The Santa Maria area had almost 200 properties transfer in September to a new end user. That is a very substantial number and crushes anything the south coast is seeing.

Along with the number of homes that are selling is the fact that the prices of these properties are at a median price we haven't seen in a long time. I quickly calculated the median price for all the properties that transferred and it was below $250,000. WOW!

The higher priced properties continue to be in the Orcutt area, but even they are not selling for anything you would consider high based on prices from a number of years ago.

I am glad to report I believe the number of sales occurring in the Santa Maria area this year would cause me to believe that things are good in the real estate market and are going to get better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

September Real Estate Sales In Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara area has been pretty consistent in recent months with the number of sales that CORT has been reporting. September saw a small decrease to 117.
The 2 largest sales appear to be commercial properties. 600 Pine Ave. in Goleta sold for $13,100,000 and 5464 Carpinteria Ave. sold for $12,000,000.
The largest residential sales appear to be 942 Hot Springs which sold for $10,107,000 and 803 Picacho sold for $9,500,000.
Hope Ranch appeared to have a pretty active month with 3 properties selling.
  1. $2,555,500 9/12/2008 1510 CANTERA AVE
  2. $3,495,000 9/30/2008 1151 ESTRELLA DR
  3. $5,000,000 9/30/2008 4545 VIA ESPERANZA
I noticed a number of Highlands Condos transferring as well.
  1. $380,000 9/10/2008 968 Miramonte DR 2
  2. $389,000 9/2/2008 965 Miramonte DR 5
  3. $475,000 9/26/2008 951 Miramonte DR 3
Those are my quick observations for now. Be your own judge on what is happening in your area of interest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Did The Banks Take Back In September?

There is definetely something to be said for consistency! That is what the last 2 months have yielded in terms of properties going back to their respective lenders due to foreclosure.

In August there were 211 and in September there were 209. How's that for a horse race? Seeing this number go lower in the coming months is what I'm expecting since the number of notice of defaults is dropping.

25 of the 209 properties taken back were in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, and Carpinteria areas.  This is a small increase over the previous months, but nothing significant.

Countrywide was again the big land baron taking back 45 of the 209 properties. I have only been watching who the lender is for a couple of months now, but Countrywide is certainly the big winner or loser depending on your perspective.

Lompoc had 35 properties and Santa Maria had a total of 125 with the sourrounding areas in the northern part of the county sharing the rest of the properties.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Santa Barbara County Foreclosure Trends

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm getting pretty dizzy watching the stock market go up 400 points one minute and then be down 200 points the next. It has been a very wild ride to say the least if you are paying attention there.

The Santa Barbara County real estate market hasn't been so up and down. It has been pretty consistent for the most part.

With respects to foreclosures and some of the indicators I watch to tell me whether they are slowing or not, the trend is certainly slowing.

The most significant number in September was the number of notice of defaults the county reported recording. There were only 112 as compared to 269 in August. I am certain that some of the legislation requiring lenders to get in touch with borrowers before recording these notices is having an affect on how many are being recorded, but I also think they will be working out the terms of some borrowers loans which again will cause the default rate to slow down.

The number of trustees deeds has also declined in a large way from 217 in August to 146 in September. More obviously good news for the foreclosure market.

The last 2 pieces of the equation are also spelling relief for the foreclosure market. The number of loans that are adjusting this month is 228 which is the peak for the year. I have data out to January 2009 and that number is 115. This tells me less borrowers are going to feel stuck in the adjustable loans they have.

The final part of the foreclosure equation in my mind is how many of these foreclosures are selling? This is important since that inventory needs to be bought up before we are going to see prices start to really stabilize and climb. In Santa Barbara County there were 81 of those properties purchased in September. This number has continually increased since January of this year showing me that the price point is being reached.

Foreclosures aren't going away any time soon, but they are selling and they are becoming less of an impact on our residential markets.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are You Searching For Foreclosures Or Short Sales In Santa Barbara?

I had the pleasure today of speaking to Sue Irwin. She is an agent working for Prudential California Realty in Santa Barbara. She introduced me to a new website that she and her partner Kalia Rork have just launched.

She promoted it as a place where someone can go and either get educated on short sales and foreclosures or search those types of properties that are listed in the Santa Barbara area.

I know that I have certainly been asked more then once on how to find distressed properties in Santa Barbara. This seems to be a quick way to search the Multiple Listing Service for any properties that are listed for sale meeting those requirements. 

Good Luck to Sue and Kalia for launching what I think is a unique service. At least it is for now! 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Foreclosure Story!

Here on the South Coast of Santa Barbara County we have heard about the areas of Southern California that have been extremely hard hit by foreclosures.

We have been fortunate enough to be in an area that has been relatively unnaffected. The video below done by KCET is worth watching to get the real story behind how some of the areas being hard hit are affected. It is about 12 minutes long, but worth watching.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

August Property Sales Kept Up The Consistency!

It is that time of month again when I'm able to map out all the home and property sales that happened in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, and Carpinteria areas.

Consistency is once again the theme, 123 sales but there was one biggie. A piece of property on Cima Del Mundo sold for $26,400,000 as reported by CORT. I sure would like to have a look at that property. Maybe Google Earth will give me a shot. Better yet I found a photo tour you can view if you would like. That is a nice house!

The next biggest sale for August was 34 W. Victoria, which if memory serves me right is the Vons site at the corner of Chapala and Victoria. That sold for $12,500,000. I wonder if the new owners have some sort of plans for that location.

Goleta real estate appears to be continuing to hang in there. A property at 611 Corte Bella sold for $2,050,000 in August when a property earlier in the year on that same street sold for just under $2,000,000. It is interesting to see a number of properties selling below $750,000.

Carpinteria real estate is continuing to do what you would expect in this market. The sleepy little seaside surf town had 10 properties sell for well under 1 million. As a matter of fact a number of those properties went for under 500k.

Montecito had a solid month with quite a few properties in the 2-4 million dollar range selling.

Santa Barbara had a number of sales as well, with the median price being in the mid 900's. There were a number of sales over the $2,000,000 number with 1732 Santa Barbara St. going for $3,850,000.

I'm sure there were many sales you may be interested in looking up yourself, so don't hesitate to use the map below to quell your curiosity.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Santa Barbara's August Sales Numbers.

How does 123 transactions in August hit ya? The impression it left on me, was same ole same ole. Since March of this year the number of transactions in the Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta, & Montecito real estate markets has been very consistent.

The lowest number during that time frame was 118, and the highest number was 135. During that time we have seen the number of foreclosure properties jump a bit from a few a month to 22 or so. There have been a number of financial institutions that have had to take some drastic action just to survive. Some didn't! The number of refinanced home loans has been dramatically reduced.

Besides the number of transactions, home loan rates have also been relatively unchanged. Qualifying for a loan has remained relatively difficult even for the most qualified buyers, but it is getting done.

What does it all mean? For me, I am glad that the number of properties changing hands has remained pretty consistent. When many things around these sales have been in total chaos the consistency tells me there is still some demand. People are willing to buy homes even though the financial world is upside down.

When some of the other areas of the financial markets get some consistent results then you will see some confidence come back in to the real estate lending field. Until that happens I think the number of sales is going to remain pretty consistent, some might say boring.

See You In Escrow!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Santa Barbara's "Notice of Defaults" Are On The Decline!

In light of the news last night about the government getting more involved with the bad loans that are out there, the decline in notices of defaults being recorded in Santa Barbara County is more good news in an economy that hasn't had much in recent months.

If the notice of default number continues to decline there just isn't any way the number of foreclosures will continue it's unprecedented rise. One other item of note is the number of loans that are scheduled to adjust in Santa Barbara County in the coming months is also declining sharply.

Foreclosures have been a significant part of the real escape landscape in the last couple of years. They have had as much to do with volume going down as well as the median price. I do expect them to continue to taper off through the end of the year and in to next year even if the government doesn't step in and do anything to exaggerate that decline.

What will this mean for local real estate. I think we are already seeing it in the Santa Maria and Lompoc areas. The median price there has begun to stabilize and the number of transactions has been up significantly from last year.

Since those areas have seen the most number of foreclosures it will take them more than just a few months of sales to stop feeling their affects. I do believe that you could possibly see some real price stabilization early next year, with a threat of prices rising sometime near the end of 2009.

As far as the Santa Barbara area is concerned it may take a little longer to see any real price appreciation. The north county may be a barometer of things to come on the south coast and will probably see prices rising sooner than the Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria areas will. With the new government program that is being finalized this weekend though all bets are off on exactly how quickly things will get back on track.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Countrywide Is The Land Baron Of Santa Barbara County!

I just pulled up the August information for properties being taken back due to foreclosure and Countrywide took back 25% of the overall number for August in Santa Barbara County.

It isn't even worth trying to figure out who was in 2nd. With 211 properties going back to their respective lenders as REO's and Countrywide with 54 (if I counted correctly) the rest of the pack was left in the dust.

I did see the usual suspects though, Wells Fargo, WAMU, Chase etc.....

One field of information I didn't remember seeing in the past was the information on surnames. I don't know what this really has to do with anything, but 107 of the 211 properties had been owned by people with hispanic surnames.

21 of the 211 were in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, and Carpinteria areas. If memory serves me correctly, that is 1 less than what occurred in July. So, 180 of the properties on the list are from the Santa Maria, Lompoc, & Santa Ynez Valley.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is Santa Barbara Real Estate A Good Investment?

I have been busy with meetings and corporate projects recently and have been neglecting getting my posts up on the blog this week. I didn't hear a lot of backlash from the 4 readers I have, so I hope they are still out there. ;o)

Today I am wanting to put up some numbers about the median price of a home that I received from Mark Schniepp at the California Economic Forecast.

As you can see from the chart, the question of whether or not Santa Barbara Real Estate is a good investment or not is pretty easy to answer. If you had purchased the median priced home in 1975 for about $48,000 it would now be worth about $1,230,000. That sounds like a great place to have put your money. We all should have bought 3 or 4 for that matter.

One of the thoughts in real estate has been it is cyclical. I have heard more than one person say that the cycle runs about every 10 years. So is that what the chart says? I would say that is pretty close to the truth.

We are obviously in that area where the prices are going down. One of the reasons the median price did not go down in 2007 is that the high end of the market was very hot. If that hadn't occurred we would probably had 2 years in a row of lower numbers. As you can see from the chart the median price does not stay down very long, so if you are thinking of buying it might be the window you are looking for.

One other thing that is fun to notice is that the increases in the median price in the mid 2000's aren't unprecedented. The 30%+ increases that happened in the 70's are the biggest increases on this chart.

If you want to hear more about the forecast on real estate locally you should attend the program being put on by the Association of Realtors and The California Economic Forecast Project at the Cabrillo Arts Center Thursday morning the 18th. You can get tickets at the Association office at 1415 Chapala St. There should also be some available at the door.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lompoc And Santa Ynez Valley Sales

As the Real Estate Market begins to get its feet back under it, I have been noticing some pockets of activity. One of those pockets this month was the Santa Ynez Valley.

There were 17 transactions that closed in July. The areas covered by the Santa Ynez Valley include Solvang & Buellton, Los Olivos, & Santa Ynez. These are all very wonderful neighborhoods with their own identities.

If you dig in to the details in this area, there were a number of properties that sold over 1 million with 1 property that closed over 5 million.

Other than that, Lompoc had a busy month as well with 58 transactions. For an area that had been hard hit by the foreclosure market and had dipped way below that number this is another good month.

Lompoc's prices are pretty appealing based on what they had been just a few short years ago. Many of the homes are selling in the $250,000 range. That is very affordable for that area.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Santa Maria Home Sales Are Still Hot!

CORT has reported 148 properties transferring in the Santa Maria area in July. Once again that is a very good number. Historically, that certainly beats the numbers posted in July for the last couple years.

Many of the sellers again are banks and that is more terrific news. As the inventories of foreclosed properties continue to be sold off there will be less of those properties competing with other home sellers.

The lenders that appear to be active in this area selling off their properties are Bank of New York, HSBC Bank, Indymac, US Bank Nat Assoc, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, and the big winner with 22 properties sold was Deutsche Bank.

There were a couple of properties that sold for over 1 million, and a handful of properties that actually sold for less than $100,000. The median price was right around $250,000. I have to think buying a home in the Santa Maria area for that price is a bargain.

The conforming loan products that are out there as well as the lower price point are what is fueling this recovery. Personally, I'm glad to see it. This area got hit very hard, and it isn't completely over yet, but it does appear that the prices aren't going any lower.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Santa Maria Purchase Loans Outnumber Refinances, WOW!

I am not quite sure how to interpret the fact that in July the number of Purchase Loans recorded in Santa Maria outnumbered the Refinance Loans.

Let me compose myself and think this through. Here are some of the facts.
  • The purchase market in Santa Maria has been going gangbusters
  • The median home price has been declining
  • Lending standards have increased significantly
  • Interest rates remain low
O.K. I think I've come to my senses. Refinancing is not possible in this area for a number of reasons. A couple of the biggest reasons are that there is no equity in their homes and documenting of income has made it more difficult to qualify.

With respects to the purchase market, I don't think I'm saying anything too awfully revealing when I say "The market is back!". Even though many of the sales are properties that are bank owned, the buyers have figured out that they are a bargain. I know investors are stepping in and buying property in Santa Maria as well as folks who are looking for a roof over their heads.

Will we see refinancing come back? I think it will pick up some, but it won't be the boom we saw a couple of years ago. Lenders just aren't going to allow people to qualify as easily as they once did. This is good for everyone, especially those folks that are buying properties now. It protects their investment from the huge swing in prices we have experienced recently.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What Do All These Foreclosure Numbers Mean Anyway?

Following all the related foreclosure numbers like I have been for the last 2 years certainly doesn't make me any expert. It really helps me to see what is happening when I can view a chart allowing me to view trends one way or the other.

The numbers for July in Santa Barbara County are intriguing to say the least. I know real estate is a very local commodity when all I read in the headlines these days is how Notice of Defaults are continuing to rise and Santa Barbara appears to be bucking the trend.

Santa Barbara County had a significant drop in the number of Notice of Defaults the County Recorder reported for July. An 18% drop causes me to think that if that keeps up this will be fantastic for the Santa Barbara Real Estate Market. So, will it?

That is the 64 million dollar question! Here are the facts, the number of Trustees Deeds have been on the rise, the number of REO's selling have been on the rise, and the number of loans adjusting have also been on the rise.

I believe the leading indicator has to be The Notice of Defaults recording. That starts the entire process of foreclosure. If they continue to decrease then so will everything else mentioned above.

I know this may be an optimistic viewpoint, but maybe just maybe all the effort being put in to keeping people out of foreclosure is beginning to work. I can tell you that the number of loans adjusting in November and December of this year is 160 and 123 respectively. That is a lot lower number than in 2007. That would appear to bode well when it comes to seeing the Notice of Default number declining.

The more I look at this chart and the numbers I've been tracking, the more I am beginning to believe the claims that we are seeing or have seen the worst of the foreclosures in Santa Barbara County.

I did hear a report today that the number of homes sold across the country increased over 3% from June. Maybe this is the start of some positive news on the real estate front.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where Have All The Refinances Gone?

Refinancing your home was definetely at the center of the economic party a couple of years ago. Not any more, the number of refinances in the Santa Barbara area has slowed to a trickle.

I am going to have to change the way I format my chart pretty soon, because in some areas the number of purchase loans is outnumbering the amount of refinance loans being done in a given month.

The Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Montecito areas haven't quite seen the number drop that far yet, but it is the lowest it has been in years.

A year ago, all I kept hearing was that this year could possibly end up being one of the biggest refinance markets we would ever see. The folks predicting this were seeing the huge number of loans that were going to be adjusting and determining that they would all refinance.

Many borrowers were opting for programs like a fixed for 5 year loan and those loans are all about to adjust, if they aren't already. I guess the borrowers are just not being hit with the large adjustments up in their payments and or they are stuck with the loan they have since lending standards have tightened.

Whatever the reason, the refinance party is over. Someone turn out the lights.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Southern Santa Barbara Real Estate Numbers

July was a pretty lack luster month for home sales on the South Coast. The South Coast includes many incredible communities like, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Montecito, and Goleta. The number of sales was 118 but that doesn't tell the entire story. Real Estate is a very local commodity and is getting more local by the minute. Looking in to the specific area that is of interest to you is very important. So let's do that!

The Santa Barbara real estate market appears to me that it just hasn't really got it's legs under it yet. It's trying, but as you can see from the accompanying chart one month it's heading up the next month it is heading down, and overall it is way behind last year and the year before. March and April were showing some good signs and then we had a drop in May and a tick up June, and then July dipped again to 56 sales.

In Montecito the real estate market has had a pretty good year but is appearing to be taking the summer off. June and July's numbers were slightly below the numbers for 2007 and 2006. If you look March, April and May though you can see there were quite a few sales and the last report I saw showed median home prices up a bit. If I had to hazard a quess for this market I would think it is going to continue to average around 16 or 17 sales for the rest of the year, making this year a pretty decent year for Montecito.

Carpinteria and Summerland appear to be in the same boat as Santa Barbara. These communities are just ticking along at a pretty sleepy pace. July was the first time all year that there were more sales (10) than in one of the previous 2 years. Carpinteria has some of the more affordable neighborhoods on the south coast and so I would expect them to begin to pick up as prices have dropped pretty significantly.

Last but not least is the Goleta real estate market. As Carpinteria does Goleta has many of the more affordable housing tracts around. I believe this is why we are seeing the numbers in Goleta beating last year. If you look at the 2nd quarter as a whole this year beat last year by 1 transaction. Not only that but July of this year was ahead of July last year. I think the price point in Goleta is starting to be discovered. Buyers are beginning to pay what sellers are asking for. The sellers have come down enough to where buyers are seeing these properties as bargains. This is one of those markets to watch. It may be the first one that signals a turn around on the south coast.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Banks Just Keep On Building Their REO's Portfolio

July showed the normal number of REO's going back to their respective lenders. For the entire county there were 185. The last few months have been very similar. Where things aren't that similar is how they were distributed.

The number of properties going back to the bank in the South County was 22. That is double the number of June. What could be the cause of the increase. My thoughts are this; Nobody is immune from the economic drama we find ourselves in. It just takes longer for it to reach some areas. I have no crystal ball, but we will probably see some similar numbers in the near future. I don't expect it to last that long though. My belief is that it took longer to hit this area and it will last a much shorter time.

Here are the specific numbers; Santa Barbara 12, Goleta 7, Carpinteria and Summerland 3. I expect August to be in the same ballpark, since the number of Notice of Defaults hasn't increased significantly, but stay tuned.

Northern Santa Barbara County is still the winner though with a total of 163. The reigning champ of REO's is still Santa Maria with 117. Lompoc had 36 properties on the list. The rest were spread out over the Santa Ynez Valley and outlying areas. These numbers are up just a few from June. This could be due to the fact July had 1 more working day than June.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's Happening On The South Coast?

Santa Barbara's South Coast's Real Estate Market has been experiencing historically low numbers of transactions. Carpinteria, Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Montecito have all had their part in these numbers. Real Estate, even in our little part of the world has not been immune to what is happening every where.

This year the highest number of real estate transactions that have been recorded was 135 back in April. That was followed by 132 in May, 127 in June, and 118 in July.

You have to go back to August of 2007 to find a number higher than these. Guess what happened then? The credit crisis hit and we haven't been the same since.

People I speak with seem to be under the impression that getting a loan to buy a property is impossible. I'm here to tell you it isn't. We are closing escrows and most of them have loans involved. So if qualifying for a loan is what has you on the sidelines right now make sure you check in with any one of a number of terrific loan people here in town.

I am also hearing that people think the price of real estate is going to continue to drop here on the South Coast. If it is, I'm not sure it will be for much longer as I've seen the northern part of our county begin to heat up. I haven't done any extensive reasearch, but I believe the age old supply and demand theory. The prices in Santa Maria and Lompoc must be viewed as good by those buying and since the number of closed purchases is up significantly you would think the demand will keep prices from dropping any lower. I also believe the Santa Barbara and Goleta areas won't be far behind.

I also know I haven't met anyone yet who can really predict the bottom of the market. By the time all the signs of the bottom are evident it is too late. If you are considering purchasing in the near future get prepared now. The opportunity may present itself sooner than you might expect. Stay in touch with your real estate agent and keep abreast of properties in your price range and locale.

If you need a recommendation for a real estate agent or loan agent don't hesitate to get in touch with me. I have been in this community and in this business for 18 years.

See You In Escrow

Monday, August 11, 2008


I have absolutely no problem promoting Ed Heron to be on the Santa Barbara School Board. I have worked with him on many different projects and work related items over the years and he is truly one of the great community leaders in Santa Barbara. He recently sent out an email to many of his friends and colleagues letting them know about his candidacy and below is part of that email. Get out and vote, and when you do remember Ed.


H. Edward Heron, Retired Business Executive

A sixty year resident of Santa Barbara graduating from Peabody, La Cumbre and Santa Barbara High School. Bachelor’s Degree, Business Economics, Claremont McKenna College. Married 41 years to Mary, 3 children, 7 grandchildren.

42 year professional real estate career in Santa Barbara. California’s Distinguished Realtor, 1992. Director for City Commerce Bank and Mid State Bank serving on their audit committees. Founding President, Mid State Bank Foundation and Chair, Coldwell Banker Community Foundation. Immediate Past President, Partners in Education and a leader in its Computer For Families program for the past 10 years providing over 6,000 computers free to South Coast families. 2006-2008 Chair, UCSB Economic Forecast, Santa Barbara.

My focus will be fiscal responsibility, supporting talented teaching professionals, implementing the 2008-2013 technology plan, make certain by citizen oversight that parcel tax funds, if passed, are used to supplement music, art and theatre programs, foreign language, math, science and technology education. Create partnerships, never needed more than right now, between parents, educators, and businesses knowing that children do well when supported by family and the community.

I am dedicated to Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Montecito having the finest public schools possible emphasizing achievement for all students. I would be honored by your vote.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

June Loan Activity

The loan activity in Santa Barbara County in June was less than impressive.
In the Southern part of Santa Barbara the trend for refinances and purchases is still down. Not down significantly from previous months, but down non the less. I would expect the refinancing of property to be a pretty slow grind for a while because of the tightening of credit.
In Santa Maria it is more of the same, but the purchase market seems to be more stable, but the refinance business appears even more difficult. I don't see that changing any time soon.
Lompoc is looks like a carbon copy of Santa Maria with less transactions. The purchase market appears to be stable, but the refinance market is down significantly.

Northern Santa Barbara County Homes Sales, Up?

I know that blogs don't get much attention when they publish good news, but I guess I'll see if anyone will read this.

When you look at the numbers in Santa Maria and Lompoc and the sourrounding areas the number of home sales has certainly trended up.

June was the third month in a row that Santa Maria was over 130 sales. The highest number of sales in all of 2007 was 104. In 2006 March, July, and August were all in the 130's. June of this year actually hit 141, which is the hightest number in at least three years.

Lompoc is a little different story, but since February the number of sales has been climbing. 45 in March, 42 in April, 51 in May, and 50 in June. 51 is higher than any number in 2007, but not as high as the 68 transactions in January of 2006. It certainly is a huge improvement over the end of last year where in September, October, November, and December were all in the 20's.

It would appear that if you are looking to take advantage of the lower prices in these areas that you should certainly consider making offers now. I would think the increased demand would help prices flatten or start to rise a bit.

If you would like to see the area sales you can click on the map links to the right for these areas. You can also view the charts showing the number of sales on the right.

If you would like more information on June's home sales in Southern California, you can check out Dataquick.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Down Payment Assistance!

In these troubled times when qualifying to buy a home is harder than it had been. There are ways one can get help. One of those ways is with a local organization called Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation.
In looking through their website they began a number of years ago helping migrant farm workers in the Ventura area secure housing. This next paragraph is taken straight from their website.
Since these humble beginnings, CEDC has built more than 1,000 units of affordable for-sale and multi-family rental housing, manages 440 affordable rental units, and has counseled more than 1,800 households preparing to purchase a home. In addition, CEDC has helped 275 families into home ownership through education, counseling, and lending services.

One of the big pieces of their programs is educating people on how to navigate the process of owning a home. They will be in Santa Barbara next week to educate the local real estate community on how to use their down payment assistance program for first time buyers.

The real estate downturn has not produced much in the way of good news recently, but organizations like this are getting much more attention. This attention is well deserved, since they go about showing people how to own homes the right way.
If you have specific questions for them, I would suggest to check out their website mentioned above or giving them a call at 805 659-3791.

Monday, July 28, 2008

June Santa Barbara REO's

There is nothing unusual about June's list of REO's. They are spread out throughout the county just as you would suspect.

There were 11 properties between Carpinteria and Goleta.

The Santa Maria area had the largest number with 106.

Lompoc had 32.

The rest of the the properties taken back by the banks were scattered among Santa Ynez, Solvang, Guadalupe, & Buellton.

In reviewing the loan amounts you can see that most of the properties had loan amounts under $500,000. There were 2 properties whose loan amounts were over $1,000,000 and they were both in Santa Barbara.

The list of lenders wouldn't surprise you either. All the major players are represented with multiple properties on the list. A couple of the lenders that have been in the news most recently like IndyMac and Countrywide are certainly busy taking back property.

Some of the other lenders are Wells Fargo, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, Deutsche Bank, & Chase.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The State of Home Financing in Santa Barbara

Our escrow staff was fortunate enough to have a loan professional come talk to us at our meeting this morning. I wasn't really sure how well it would go, but it was a terrific forum for us to share what we are seeing on our escrows as well as hear what type of financing is out there.

I wasn't sure that the raising of the conforming loan limit that happened with the economic stimulus package had really helped people who were borrowing between the old limit and the new limit of $729,750 but it is.

If you are wanting to put less than 20% down on a piece of property and aren't needing to borrow more than the new limit an FHA loan has some possibilities for you. We were even told that there are some down payment assistance programs you can use in conjunction with this financing that could really lower your down payment.

We were told that there are still some sources for loans between 2 and 5 million although people who borrow these amounts usually do it for a short time since their isn't any tax benefit.

This lender also told us that they are not viewing Santa Barbara as a declining market any more and they will loan you over 1.1 million with 20% down.

There were some comments made about home equity loans being frozen and we found out that with this lender even though you may have received a nasty letter from them, if you get in touch with them they have been able to unfreeze your line. They can even help you put on a new HELOC.

One other interesting product that was mentioned is the construction to permanent loan program they have. With between 20 and 30% down a buyer can purchase a tear down and as an example get a 1.5 million dollar construction loan on a $750,000 purchase price.

I left our meeting thinking that many folks don't understand the opportunity that is out there. The opportunity buyers who need to borrow less than the $729,750 when purchasing a property could come to an end this year. If you need more information, just shoot me an email and I'll let you know who to contact.

Spread the word!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Santa Maria & Lompoc Property Sales In June

The North part of Santa Barbara County has been experiencing what I would call a bit of a recovery regarding the number of homes and condos that have been selling. In June the number of transfers for Lompoc and Santa Maria hit a total of 191 transactions.

Santa Maria has been showing the most improvement in the last few months. In March there were 87 transactions. In April, May, & June there have been 134,137,& 141 respectively.

June's number of 141 is the highest number on the chart except for December of 2005 which hit 156. Once again in reviewing the transfers there were many bank owned properties that were purchased.

This trend continues to be good in my opinion since it will continue to take some time to get that inventory off the market. The foreclosures seem to just keep on coming, but if the banks have figured out the price point to get them sold then that is a big piece of the puzzle.

In Lompoc June was almost as good as the previous month. April had 51 transactions and June had 50. Not too bad when you consider that late last year the number of transactions was in the 20's.

Lompoc has seen a steady increase in the number of transactions this year. I'm not sure how long it will continue, but a steady increase is much better than the alternative.

My guess is that these increases are signs of a market that is in recovery as well as some normal seasonal increases. The spring and summer are usually the months where homes are sold and people move in to their new places.

Stay Tuned!

Monday, July 21, 2008

South Coast Vacancy Rates

The Tuler/Gamberdella Team from Radius Group Commercial Real Estate has released their Quarterly Review of the commercial markets on the South Coast. Check them out!

Radius Group Commercial Real Estate is pleased to provide the RADIUS GROUP SOUTH COAST 2nd Quarter 2008 REVIEW for the commercial markets of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria. Included in the report are the largest leased properties and largest vacancies in each city during the 2nd Quarter 2008.

The following is a summary of Vacancy Rates from April 2008 through June 2008.

Santa Barbara

Office Vacancy increased slightly from 2.9% to 3.8%.
Industrial Vacancy remained the same at 0.4% to 0.4%.
Retail Vacancy increased slightly from 1.1% to 1.2%.


Office Vacancy increased from 8.6% to 9.0%.
Industrial Vacancy increased from 4.5% to 5.9%.


Office Vacancy increased from 2.5% to 2.8%.
Industrial Vacancy increased from 2.8% to 8.4%.

Please click here to view the detailed report for the changes in lease rates, the largest lease transactions and current vacancies.

Please contact Bob Tuler (805) 879-9605, Paul Gamberdella (805) 879-9622, or Gene Deering (805) 879-9623 for any commercial real estate related needs.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Property Sales Prices In The Santa Barbara Area

Our interactive map for Homes, Condo, and all other property sales is now available.

There were not many sales in Carpinteria for June. The lowest priced sale was for $290,000 at 5945 Hickory St #1. There was one good sized sale in Carpinteria for $2,400,000 at 6635 Arozena Ln.

Goleta had a really low sales price reported for 5218 Mono Dr. of $12,750. My guess is that is some kind of partial interest in a piece of property but who knows. The next reasonably priced property was for $510,000 at 5290 Overpass Rd #12. The highest priced property in Goleta was probably a commercial piece of property at 7000 Hollister Ave for $2,900,000.

Moving on to Santa Barbara, this price is a little hard to believe, $129,000 for 4545 Oak Glen Dr #D. The highest priced piece of property reported sold by CORT in Santa Barbara was $5,100,000 at 4160 Mariposa Dr.

Montecito's lowest priced property was 621 Romero Canyon Rd, which sold for $944,000. On the other end of the spectrum, 919 Park Ln sold for $8,967,500.

If you would like information on previous months sales you can use the links to the right.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Santa Barbara Property Sales In June

Can you say plateau! In April there were 135 sales, in May there were 132 sales and in June there were 127 sales in the South County of Santa Barbara. In looking at the chart that is a pretty flat line.

If that was all you were reviewing you wouldn't really be seeing the full story. The sub markets are almost all showing some changes. Carpinteria and Summerland are probably the exception in that they are flat as well.

The Santa Barbara market climbed from 53 transactions in May to 67 transactions in June. That is the highest number of sales since August of 2007 when there were 86.

The Goleta market took an about face. It had hit a high of 47 in May and then dropped to 33 in June. When you look at the Goleta chart it does appear to be more of an EKG than anything else. Up one month down the next. I hope that means that the patient is alive and doing well.

Montecito appears to be taking a bit of a nose dive. There were 32 transactions in April, and 23 in May. June's number was 16 which is the lowest number since January. Interestingly enough though is the correlation to the last couple of years. Montecito has flattened out in 06 and 07 in the last half of the year and it would appear to be doing the same this year.

So the cliche that real estate is local certainly applies to the numbers for June in the Santa Barbara area. Looking at only the overall numbers won't really give a very clear picture of what is happening. I'll be posting the map for all the sales shortly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Santa Barbara County Foreclosure Trends

In reviewing the June numbers for Santa Barbara County you can see that the number of Notices of Defaults that have been recorded have not slowed down in recent months. On the other hand they haven't increased significantly either.

This number could be impacted in future months by new legislation that has been signed by the Governor. The new bill makes the lenders who are wanting to record Notice of Default go through a more stringent effort to contact and help out the borrower. If you would like to read more detailed information on this new legislation please check out the California Land Title Association website.

Staying with, the it hasn't changed much in the last few months theme, neither has the number of loans that are scheduled to adjust. It was 171 in April, 180 in May, and 182 in June. I do know that the number jumps to 228 in September and then is back down to 160 in November. This may cause a small spike in Notice of Defaults sometime after September.

The number of trustees deeds that recorded in June dropped a tiny bit from the 180that recorded in May. The 175 that recorded in June certainly isn't representative of a slow down, but the good news is that number didn't increase. I would hope the lenders are working out loan issues with the borrowers and aren't having to take back as many properties. This is probably wishful thinking, but it also sounds like the right thing to do.

The number that did rise significantly was the number of REO properties that sold. This is terrific news because the faster the REO product is sold the quicker the real estate market will get back on it's feet. The June number rose to 50, where the May number was 36 and the previous high was in April at 37. This is a 35% increase over April.

My final thoughts about the foreclosure market are mostly anecdotal. I have been hearing that the lenders are as aggressive as they have to be in pricing their properties. This may not help the median prices of the areas with foreclosures, but it will help move this property more quickly which in the end shortens the amount of time these properties will affect the surrounding neighborhoods. We have been handling many more short sale escrows recently and I have to believe that is also good news for the market. My last thought is that the foreclosures will be around for a while longer, but everyone involved is getting better at processing them which should lesson the influence they have on the real estate market.

See You In Escrow!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tired Of The High Price Of Gas, Then Take The Challenge!

I received an email today from Traffic Solutions. They have a terrific program to help motivate you to use alternative transportation.

Are You Up for the Challenge?

· Register at Traffic Solutions Online
· Join a team of five - or form your own team
· Log your August and September commute trips
Bus · Bike · Walk · Carpool · Vanpool · Telecommute · Train
· Win great prizes!
· Employers support their teams and compete

What is the Commute Challenge?
The Commute Challenge is a friendly competition that runs for all of August and September, with five member teams making round-trips using sustainable transportation instead of driving alone. Team members log each day they use an eligible mode of alternative transportation (Bus, Bike, Walk, Carpool, Vanpool, Telecommute, Train, or Skate). At the end of the competition, the team with the most trips logged wins the grand prize. The top 101 teams will receive prizes, and we'll also have raffles at least once a week. Our interactive website means participants can track teams' progress and post fun pictures and other information
about their teams.

For Instructions and Rules, visit

Employer vs. Employer
In addition to the 5 person team competition and prizes, this year the Commute Challenge will feature employer competitions. We have multiple employer categories, and the winning employers from each category will get a photo of their participants in their local newspaper, commending their performance, as well as prizes from Traffic Solutions.

For Employer Info visit

Monday, June 30, 2008

Santa Barbara's June Real Estate Roundup

In perusing all the various news sources in our communities, you will always find some tidbits on the Santa Barbara real estate scene. Some of these items end up being controversial, others are just the latest and greatest on housing here on the central coast. Take a look at what has been in the news this month.

Blogabarbara's Coverage of the Fairview Gardens Housing Violations
The Independent has another article on the Miramar.

Daily Sound Articles
2 New Parcel Taxes
Housing Policy Changes
Veronica Meadows Project

The Santa Barbara Housing Blog Takes A Siesta

Santa Barbara's Blog covers yet another Chapala development.

It was a busy Real Estate month on council member Das Williams blog
Veronica Meadows
Inclusionary Housing Ordinance
Condo Conversions and Renters
The Condo Issues Summarized

Noozhawk had a couple of articles, one by yours truly.
May Property Sales
Signs of a Real Estate Recovery

I think that should keep you updated. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Santa Barbara Lending Activity

Santa Barbara had been experiencing a gradual increase in lending activity the last few months. Part of that trend came to a halt.

The non purchase loan market dropped significantly. It went from 399 in April to 337 transactions in May. This is a 15% drop in the number of non purchase transactions.

What would have appeared to be affecting this market is that rates have risen and I would expect the number of new credit lines slowed down. The underwriting guidelines continue to make qualifying for a loan difficult.

The residential purchase market held it's own in May, only dropping 4 transactions. This is about a 3% drop in the number of these loans from April to May. This market was certainly impacted by the increased number of sales in Goleta in May.

I'm not expecting rates to come down significantly, but it certanly wouldn't hurt to see that happen a bit.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Santa Barbara's North County Sales Numbers

The Santa Maria, and Lompoc areas home sales have shown signs of improvement the last couple of months. Specifically the number of sales has been trending upwards.

Santa Maria had 137 properties transfer in May as compared to 103 in 2007. I'm no genius but I was able to figure out that is a 33% increase in the number of sales year over year. If you look at the same numbers for April you will see an even bigger increase, almost 60%.

I took a glance at who the sellers were and it isn't any surprise that a good percentage of the properties that transferred in the Santa Maria area were sold by banks. One other thing I noticed is that the developers with projects in the area seem to have sold a number of their properties as well.

The 137 sales in Santa Maria is the highest number dating back to December of 2005 where it hit 156. In March of 2006 we also saw 137 sales occur.

Lompoc's market hasn't seen the same percentage increase year over year that Santa Maria has, but they did experience a 24% increase in the number of sales from May of 2007. Those numbers were 41 and 51.

Both areas can certainly do better and most likely will, when is the question. Seeing these markets improve and knowing that these communities make up a good portion of the affordable housing in Santa Barbara County gives me hope. I still maintain that the point at which the volume begins to grow is the point where more sellers have figured out what the price point is for the buyers.

I'm not able to tell you if investors have begun to get back in the market yet, but I would expect them to be if they aren't already.

I would love to hear your comments on what you believe is happening.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Santa Barbara County May REO's

Foreclosures are certainly a reality in today's real estate market. Santa Barbara County has experienced the affects of properties being taken back by lenders now for quite some time.

In May there were 162 properties that were taken back. The South County had 17 properties that found their way back to the bank in May. 14 of them were residences with 4 being condominiums and 2 being multi family properties. The final property was an Industrial property on Carpinteria Ave. that had a loan amount of over 7 million dollars. The Santa Barbara Housing Bubble Blog gives some of the hole by hole goings on with that property.

The 17 properties spanning Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, & Summerland is more than double the number from April. This is really unusual for the South Coast. Having this many properties being bank owned is historically significant. I would expect there to continue to be a number of foreclosures. I don't expect the number to rise much if any. Buyers appear to be picking up on these properties being priced right.

This leaves 146 properties in Northern Santa Barbara County. Once again Santa Maria is the hardest hit. 101 was the grand total for that area. All of these properties were residential. 1 was a multi family property, 13 were condominiums, and 87 single family residences. The list of lenders looks like a who's who's from the latest front pages of the business sections of any major newspaper.

Lompoc needs to be referenced in this article as they have had many of the same issues as Santa Maria. There were 34 properties in Lompoc. They were all residential with 7 being condos, 1 being a multi family, and the rest being single family.

Lastly, the Santa Ynez Valley had a few foreclosures, not really enough to mention. They all appeared to be single family residences.

Of course this information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For more details on individual properties as well as a visual on where these properties are located you can click on and use the map below.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Santa Barbara County Foreclosure Trends

I have been formally watching these numbers now for about 8 months. I wish I could say that I have a good handle on what to expect next.

My opinion on what's next seems to change by the day.

Certain people I speak with seem to think that the market that has been affected by the foreclosures is getting healthier. More of these foreclosed properties seem to be selling more quickly and buyers are thinking the prices they are paying are very good. This is evidenced by the increase in the number of sales we have seen in Santa Maria, Lompoc, & Goleta in recent months.

On the other hand some people are telling me they think that we are going to see many more homes go in to foreclosure. Reason being current loans that are adjusting are going to continue to raise a borrowers payment. These borrowers may find themselves in a situation where they don't have any way to refinance out of these loans.

I do know that getting a loan these days is much more difficult than it had been in previous years. Some lenders are still calling Santa Barbara a declining market so they will take 5% right off the top of the appraisal before determining how much they will loan a person. An 80% loan to value (that is after the 5% reduction) appears to be about as high as most lenders are willing to go.

Probably the biggest change in qualifying for a loan is how the lenders are looking at the ability to pay the loan back. A borrower must prove to a lender exactly what their income is. In the past many lenders didn't go through the process of tax returns etc... they only required you to state your income without backing it up.

Enough of this education on qualifying for a loan, what about the foreclosure market?

In looking at the numbers, Santa Barbara County is seeing an increase in the number of Notice of Defaults being recorded. Maybe we have seen this peak since the April number was a little higher than the May figure.

The number of properties going to the lender or a successful bidder at a foreclosure sale has been increasing slightly. This is represented on the chart by the Notice of Trustee Sale documents that have been recorded.

As I mentioned earlier the banks have been selling more properties as well, which is displayed by the REO number in the chart.

What does it all mean? Who can really tell, but here is my superfluous analysis of the information I have. I don't believe we will see the number of foreclosures climb much higher than it is now. There will be an increase but with the number of loans that are adjusting leveling off I believe so will the foreclosures. One thing to watch are interest rates. If they go down at all then refinancing might become an option again for homeowners who are having their payments increase due to a loan adjusting. This last scenario would be the best thing for everyone.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Santa Barbara Property Sales For May

The number of transactions in Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities have been showing some signs of improvement recently. March and April showed improvement from the previous month. I was thinking this trend might continue. I was wrong, but not that wrong.

May had 132 properties sell compared to the 135 properties in April. So, if you ask me that is about the same. I'm trying to save face here. It is interesting that the numbers are almost exactly the same for April and May in 2006.

Do I have a prediction for June? I suspect June is going to be down from May's number. With the Memorial Day Holiday and school graduations buyers seem to be distracted and we haven't seen an increase in the escrows we have been opening.

I have broken down the Santa Barbara area in to 4 different communities, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, & Carpinteria/Summerland.

In Santa Barbara proper there was an 18% drop in the number of transactions. In April CORT reported 65 transactions and May saw only 53. The highest priced property was on Marina Dr. and sold for 6,195,000. There were a number of low end properties that closed during May, most of them condominiums.

The numbers reported for Goleta showed another story. There was an 80% increase in the number of transactions. That is one short of the highest number of transactions in the last 3 years. The lowest priced property was an affordable unit on Via Lee which sold for $129,000. The highest priced property in Goleta was an Industrial Building on Castilian Dr. for $4,000,000

The Montecito market continues to remain healthy. I think any time you report over 20 sales in Montecito that is a good number. There were 23 transactions that closed, which was a drop from April, but April's number was 32, which is a very significant number. The highest priced sale CORT had for Montecito was reported as 351 & 363 Woodley Rd. for $10,500,000. There were 3 other properties reported sold over 5 million, which is pretty normal for Montecito.

The 9 sales in Carpinteria/Summerland show no real significant change in that area. Some would argue that the property on Freehaven which sold for $8,750,000 is actually in Montecito, but CORT reported it in Summerland. There was one other significant sale reported in Carpinteria on Sandyland Rd. for $3,950,000.

After reviewing the different sub markets that make up the South Coast of Santa Barbara I find it very refreshing to see such a large number of sales in the Goleta area. This is one of the more affordable areas of our community and to see improvement in that market is exciting and if it can continue it will truly be a good stimulus for all the areas on the South Coast.

To get specifics on all the sales that happened on the South Coast for May you can review our property sales map. For maps covering the rest of Santa Barbara County you can visit The Santa Barbara Real Estate Blog. Links to these maps and maps for previous months are along the right hand side of the blog under property sales maps. One last note, CORT is short for Computer Oriented Real Estate Data and is a local company that reports property sales information.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

May Real Estate Roundup

I have really stopped reading the paper for local news ever since I ran across the option to get my news from the blogosphere. The news here locally in Santa Barbara is discussed on a number of local blogs. Most of them seem to have a good selection of real estate related news, so I thought I would share the topics and associated stories I ran across in May.

The articles on Noozhawk are always well written and good ones to read. Here is a sampling of the latest real estate news from them.
Blogabarbara is another great stop on the information highway. Sara De la Guerra is the author and does a terrific job of voicing her opinion on local topics, and so do her readers.
The Daily Sound is not wanting to be outdone and they are also a must stop when looking for local news. Here are a couple of good articles to check out.
Santa Barbara's Blog usually has stories many others aren't covering.
If you aren't interested in the news and only the news check out Santa Barbara Housing Bubble. The author Santa Barbara has a very artistic way of relaying real estate topics.

That should keep you busy for a little while. The figures for May should be surfacing soon and I'll get that information out as soon as it does.

See You In Escrow!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lompoc California's Residential Loan Activity

Lompoc is an incredibly diverse community. The real estate lending game is all over the map. There is the pain of foreclosures that affect the market. The short sales are also part of the pain being experienced.

Getting a real estate loan has been hampered by properties that don't have equity as well as the overall economy in that area being poor. If you have a well paying job you are one of the lucky ones.

Besides residences the area is full of agricultural and ranch land. These properties are part of what makes the community diverse enough to hang in there during these difficult times in this real estate cycle.

Having said all this what is going on with residential lending in the Lompoc area? The refinance market would appear to be on the way up since January of this year. That is certainly good news. Individuals that can refinance out of an existing loan are getting some help. I have to believe the conforming loan programs are helping here.

The residential purchase loan segment of the market isn't quite showing the same increase yet as the refinance market. It dipped a bit from March but overall the trend is still up from fall of last year. Having the conforming loan programs available is bound to be a good thing on purchasing property in this area. Progress is slow and will probably continue to be.

See You In Escrow!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Santa Maria Residential Loan Activity

Santa Maria would appear to be in a steady climb since the end of last year when it comes to residential lending activity.

The purchase loan market which has been hit by a number of foreclosures is continuing to see improvement in the number of transactions. April showed 108 residential purchase loans for the Santa Maria area. This is the highest number since August of 2007.

As I reported in a previous post, Santa Maria had a 54% increase in the number of sales in April. I am anxious to see the numbers for May. The improvement should continue and this will help the area's economy in general.

Refinancing has been a difficult thing for borrowers to do in recent months. It has been affected by lower home values and increased borrower scrutiny.

The conforming loan products have been getting some help from government backed programs. This would appear to be helping the Santa Maria market as April's non purchase numbers continue to improve. There were 234 non purchase transactions which was about a 7% increase over March.

See You In Escrow!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Residential Loan Activity In Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara area has been doing nothing but showing signs of the market improving. The residential lending activity for April continues that trend.

As you can see from the chart the number of non purchase transactions made a significant improvement from March. It was a 33% improvement, with the number hitting 533 transactions.

Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta, & Montecito I'm sure are all benefiting from good loan rates and our market not being impacted by a number of foreclosures being sold.

I know prices have come down some, but rates are good and our economy locally seems to be pretty stable with tourism doing well.

The residential purchase loan numbers have also increased. April showed a 37% increase over the previous month. How's that for good news?

Many industries rely on the real estate economy here in the Santa Barbara area and if it gets it's feet back under it this community will be humming again.

See You In Escrow!

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