Montecito Real Estate at a Glance

Last year 203 single family homes, condos, and vacant lots sold in Montecito. This analysis was derived from the Santa Barbara Association of Realtor’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) using Montecito’s Zip Code of 93108 for the search parameter. In 2016 selling prices ranged from $525,000 (for an adobe studio on Coyote Road) to $28,850,000 (for the Seamair Farm which Oprah purchased)

In 2016 167 homes sold in 93108 from 170 sales in 2015.  Under $2,000,000 there were 48 home sales. Between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000 68 homes sold in that price range.  From  $4,000,000 to $6,000,000 32 homes sold.  From $6,000,000 to $8,000,000 15 homes sold. And, for more than $8,000,000 there were 6 home sales.

Live Near a Surf Break?

Researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey found that being located within a mile of a surf break adds about $106,000 to a home’s value.  Living near a desirable public park or outdoor recreation space boosts it significantly higher — as much as 8 percent to 20 percent.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of neighborhood attributes that can affect a home’s value. Some are obvious and some are not. Analysts at Houselogic, a website operated by the National Association of Realtors, did some digging recently and uncovered surprising facts.  As for the parkland bonus, a recent study examined 16,400 home sales within 1,500 feet of 193 public parks (in Portland, Oregon) and found that nearby natural areas added $10,648 to a home’s value. Golf courses add $8,849, specialty parks add $5,657, and urban parks add $1,214. On the downside, a park that is overcrowded and not well-maintained can drag down nearby home values.

Meanwhile, California homes with photovoltaic (solar) systems sell for an extra $17,000 over homes without solar systems, according to experts at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Add walkability to the home-value bonus list, too. Being able to stroll to schools, parks, stores, and restaurants will raise a property value anywhere from $4,000 to $34,000, according to a 2009 study from the nonprofit group CEOs for Cities.

Accessory dwelling units are another big attraction. Whether it’s a granny flat, an in-law apartment, or a carriage house, having a separate unit can increase a home’s value by 25 percent to 34 percent, according to a study of 14 properties with accessory dwelling units in Portland. Bonus: A second unit can also provide a steady stream of rental income. Elsewhere in this blog you can find a post:  “The Difference between Second Units and Accessory Dwelling Units” that you may find helpful.

New California State Property Regulations 2017

On January 1, 2017 a new California Civil Code: Senate Bill No. 407 Chapter 587 requires that all homes built on or before January 1, 1994 must be equipped with water conserving plumbing fixtures including low flush toilets (1.6 gallons per flush) , showers (not more than 2.5 GPMs), and interior faucets (not more than 2.2 GPMs).

The Bill requires that a seller or transferor of a home, multi-residential, or commercial property disclose to a purchaser or transferee in writing the specific requirements to replace these fixtures. The Bill also requires to make specific disclosures in this regard. This most likely will factor into negotiations where the seller could remedy the issues, or the buyer  accepts those conditions and takes on the responsibility to make the upgrades. Understandably this should be documented to protect all parties involved.

Locally, the City Council of Santa Barbara on December 6, 2016 passed a regulation banning lawn watering with limited exceptions as we go into our sixth year of a drought. This regulation takes effect on January 1, 2017. Photo Santa Barbara Courthouse by Technopanorama

Brexit and the Real Estate Market


  • The United Kingdom’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union, otherwise known as “Brexit,” was not accounted for in global financial markets prior to the vote. Thus, stock market volatility is sorting out the anticipated effects going forward.
  • While the financial market volatility will persist, the direct impact on the U.S. is minimal.
  • U.S. economic fundamentals remain strong, as they are based on domestic activity.
  • Indirect impacts may actually bode well for U.S. housing markets, as investors seek safe, stable investments.
  • However, more volatility may be in store in the weeks to come.
  • Brexit’s indirect effects on the U.S., however, may not be so gloomy. First, the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates will most likely be further delayed due to this development. Also, with global financial uncertainty seemingly everlasting, U.S. Treasuries are continuing to look very attractive and will probably woo many investors. Both factors are going to keep interest rates low — particularly mortgage interest rates.
  • Also, U.S. economic fundamentals are essentially unchanged, and the country should continue to post solid job and wage growth. U.S. housing markets may further benefit from global uncertainty, as they are still perceived as safe, relatively stable, and to some extent underpriced, especially when compared to London’s exorbitant

California Dreaming


1104 Channel Drive in Montecito, California: $37,500,000 Listed with Sotheby’s International Realty and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services

There’s a heavy West Coast vibe to this week’s most expensive new listings on The four priciest properties to hit the market all hail from California.This week’s highest-priced home has been on the market before, but the luxe Bel Air home returns with a modest price cut (now $48.5 million) and an adorable new video that highlights all that the home has to offer.

1. 864 Stradella Road in Los Angeles, California Price: $48,500,000 ($3,411 per square foot)

This luxury listing has bounced on and off the market since October 2014. Originally priced at $55 million, the price has come down just a bit over the past couple of years. Refreshed and newly relisted, this mansion boasting the “best views in Bel-Air” was designed by architect Paul McClean.

2. 47 Camino Por Los Arbole in Atherton, California Price: $42,800,000 ($2,599 per square foot)

This is a brand-spanking-new build in the San Francisco Bay Area. Looking back, Google Street View offers a glimpse of a modest home on the property up until a few years ago. Sold for $7.25 million in 2013, the existing home was razed to make way for this 16,468-square-foot behemoth. Equipped with a 3,000-bottle wine cellar, a deluxe home theater, and a reflection pond, it has all the luxe details—but we’re most interested in the “full bar with dual keg dispenser” in the backyard. Because if you’re spending this much for a home, why settle for just one keg?

3. 246 Atherton Avenue in Atherton, California Price: $39,800,000 ($1,729 per square foot)

Just a half-mile away from the second-place finisher, this contemporary stunner is also a brand-new build. It’s also bigger (23,013 square feet) and on more acreage (2.5 acres) than its neighbor down the street. The home that originally sat on this prime property was purchased for $7.5 million in 2011. Its destruction made way for this stunning home full of clean lines and open spaces.

4. 1104 Channel Drive in Montecito, California Price: $37,500,000 ($5,772 per square foot)

Going back to Bali? In Cali? This Balinese-inspired home on the Pacific Ocean offers a distinct island vibe. Property records show the home is owned by Zacara LLC, a corporation with ties to Lyndon Lea, described as a “British private equity tycoon.” Bonus: The mansion is perfect for parties—Lea had a notable housewarming bash when the compound was completed in 2008.

Article by Erik Gunther for

Oprah Winfrey purchases Seamair Farm in Montecito


Oprah Winfrey purchased the Seamair Farm at 380 Santa Rosa Lane in Montecitio on February 5, 2016 reported the Santa Barbara News Press on February 14, 2016. The Spencer T. Olin Trust conducted an Auction of the 23 acre farm on November 18, 2015. The trust conducted an Auction because they believed, “the property was very hard to value due to its size and location within Santa Barbara County.” This property that included 260 Santa Rosa Lane sold for $28,850,000.


“As one of the potential buyers, Oprah carefully researched the positioning of the Seamair Farm and paid several personal visits to make sure it would meet the promises the positioning highlighted. She had a number of experts inspect different aspects of the property and paid extensive due diligence to the Property Package provided by listing agent Dan Encell and auctioneer Marty Rogers for the Spencer T. Olin Trust.” Images here taken from the Property Package


Mortgage Rates for January 2016

For week of January 21, 2016
Mortgage rates have declined every week so far in 2016 and are currently at their lowest levels since the fall, a fact that could help motivate hesitant homebuyers who have been sitting on the fence.
  • That’s according to the most recent numbers from Freddie Mac, which said that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.81 percent for the week ended Jan. 21, down from 3.92 percent from a week earlier and up from 3.63 percent a year ago. Fifteen-year mortgage rates displayed a similar pattern, dropping from 3.19 percent to 3.10 percent on a weekly basis but up from 2.93 percent year over year.In a statement accompanying the report, Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti attributed the declines to weak inflation in 2015 and global economic turmoil, which is driving investors to treasuries.

Get a Clue!


The home you’re eyeing looks perfect in every way, but prior damage and other issues may be lurking in the house’s backstory. These are details you’ll want to know about before signing the closing papers. And you can, thanks to a free tool that lists insurance losses on a property going back seven years.  The majority of home insurance companies contribute claims history information to a database called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or CLUE. Underwriters use the information in a CLUE report to rate insurance policies.They look at the claims history to see if the person applying for insurance hasn’t disclosed a certain condition or indicator of how the property is being maintained, or if there are several instances of the same type of loss.

These same facts and figures can help a home buyer determine whether to buy a particular house and how difficult and costly it might be to get homeowners insurance on the property.  If you’re clueless about CLUE, don’t feel embarrassed. A recent survey found that 82 percent of Americans have never heard of the database or the reports associated with it.  So, what’s in a clue report? A home’s CLUE loss history report provides insurance company names and policy numbers and any claim numbers. The report lists the dates of any claims, the loss types and amounts paid for losses, and it will tell if a claim was denied.  Weather-related losses, fires, theft, vandalism and water damage are some of the types of claims listed. But the report doesn’t indicate what part of the property or home was affected. You’d need to ask the homeowner for those details.  A report might be blank, for two reasons: 1.The homeowner did not make any claims in the past seven years. 2. The home was covered by an insurance company that doesn’t participate in CLUE.

“Claims for the property under a different owner also won’t be included either, and therefore not considered when rated for insurance,” says Jeffrey Ill, a vice president for homeowners insurance at Esurance in San Francisco.  How to get a Clue?  A free CLUE report can be obtained once a year from database giant LexisNexis. Requests can be made online or by calling (866) 312-8076.

Here’s the catch for a homebuyer: Only the owner of a property may access its CLUE report. “You must request the report from the owner of the home you’re considering buying. A savvy seller should obtain a CLUE report before showing the home, make several copies and have those available for potential buyers.

A Clue Report is not an inspection.  Potential buyers should use the CLUE report to let their home inspector know of any repairs that have been made so that the inspector can make sure the work was done correctly.  A CLUE is not a secret database, and it gives no score or recommendations. It just tells what happened in and outside the home. It doesn’t take the place of an inspection or disclosures from the seller. It’s an additional tool to evaluate the home and the cost of homeowners insurance.

Mortgage Rates Stay Below 4%


Devereux Point, Isla Vista in Santa Barbara by Chris Potter

For 10 Weeks, Mortgage Rates Stay Below 4%

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages continue to hold below 4 percent, often an attractive lure for home buyers and refinancers.

“In contrast to the volatility in equity markets, the 10-year Treasury rate — a key driver of mortgage rates — varied just a little more than 10 basis points over the last week,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate remained virtually unchanged, dropping 1 basis point to 3.85 percent. This marks the tenth consecutive week of a sub-4-percent mortgage rate.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Oct. 1:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.85 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 3.86 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.19 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.07 percent, with an average 0.7 point, dropping from last week’s 3.08 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.36 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.91 percent, with an average 0.4 point, holding the same average as last week. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.06 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.53 percent, with an average 0.2 point, holding the same average as the previous week. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.42 percent.

Daily Real Estate News October 2015

Win Santa Barbara Dream Home!


The Museum of Contemporary Art, MCA, of Santa Barbara is offering a “Dream Home Raffle” with a 1 in 20 odds of winning over 2,500 prizes. You could win this “Dream Home” or choose $3,000,000 in cash.

Over the last ten years the raffle has raised million of dollars for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara. MCASB advances creativity and inspires critical thinking through meaningful engagement with the art of our time. Due to the funds raised via the raffle, MCASB has been able to extend its mission to young people and adults throughout the Central Coast as well as provide a venue for artists from around the country.

For more information visit the MCASB’s website for this raffle: MCA Santa Barbara Dream Home Raffle