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!