Jelle Van Dijck, Belgium
After being in Santa Barbara for a few days, there is one thing everyone tells me about living here: it’s so expensive. Is Santa Barbara becoming the new Beverly Hills? Is the middle class being excluded from this beautiful place?
13600 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93117
Coming from Belgium, I’m surprised to see the price of a single-family home. Prices are more than double than what I’m used to. What would be influencing these prices? Is it the gorgeous coastline and mountains, or is it the amount of multi-millionaires and celebrities that escape busy LA and San Francisco? Many celebrities put Santa Barbara on the map by buying a home to live in on the weekends or during holidays. It’s their second home to get away from work. Same situation with the owners of big companies, they probably run their businesses out of LA or San Francisco and come to Santa Barbara to live a stress-free life. This is influencing the prices of the different neighborhoods in the city. Some places are becoming exclusive and hard to get in for many families.
In the future, I see myself as a real estate agent and real estate investor. Everywhere I go, I look for what’s on the market and what prices are common in the area. (The Zillow app is a real good friend of mine). If you look at the statistics, you can conclude that the median sale price is around $1 million dollars in almost the whole county of Santa Barbara. If a middle class family is looking for a place to live, they are most likely to find an apartment downtown or a single-family house in the Goleta area that they can afford. If they are looking for a house closer to downtown (West-Montecito, Mission Canyon or Hope Ranch), the listings get more exclusive and you are most likely to pay $2-3 million dollars for a single-family house all the way up to $30 million dollars.
Is it realistic for a young couple who just got out of college to find a home that suits their ideas for the future? Maybe they want kids and a dog, so they will need a garden and a good location close to school. In their situation, they need a single-family home with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a decent sized garden for their dog and kids to run around in. If both of them have a job, they are likely to have at least two cars. So they also need a garage or enough parking space on the driveway or down the street.
5360 Plunkett Ln
I went to Zillow.com and entered my needs all the way from West-Goleta to East-Carpinteria. The website gave me around 130 results. Only 19 of these homes were priced under 1 million dollars (which is around 14%). Only five of these homes are close to the downtown-area. The remaining 14 homes are located in Goleta or Carpenteria. So for first-time home buyers, it’s probably more interesting to start looking for a place in Goleta or Carpinteria, or they can buy a condo around the downtown area for the same price. If you really want to live downtown or in the more exclusive areas of Santa Barbara, you’ll have to save enough money and decide to move later in your life. This explains the statistics I found about the residents of Santa Barbara on Trulia.com. Only 52% of the residents of Santa Barbara are the owners of their own houses. Also, the median age of a home-owner in Santa Barbara is 42.
The Luxury Side of Santa Barbara
So for this topic, I didn’t just want to write about these nice homes by looking at the pictures and the descriptions. I wanted to see these homes and see for myself why these homes are so expensive. Is it the view, the safety of the neighborhood or the privacy that make these homes so expensive?
There are many expensive houses in Santa Barbara county, some which are more expensive than the others. But for “The Luxury Side of Santa Barbara”, I want to focus more on three luxury areas: Hope Ranch, Montecito and Santa Ynez. Hope Ranch and Montecito are very similar. Both areas offer beautiful ocean and mountain views and there are even some homes which have access to a private beach. Santa Ynez is different. It is located around 30 minutes North-East from Santa Barbara. Most of the homes are considered ranches which have vineyards, paddocks and barns.
- Hope Ranch
Hope Ranch is located west of downtown, the area has beautiful palm tree lined streets and a few gorgeous golf courses. Home prices in this area go all the way up to $25 million dollars. On Sunday October 7th, I went to three open houses in this area.
1. 3429 Sea Ledge Lane $6,950,000
The first house was a beautiful beach house with amazing views of the ocean and the Channel Islands. It was the smallest house I visited, but still the most expensive one. This is not surprising since the two most imported things in real estate are location and views.
2. 3240 Campanil Drive $3,199,000
The next house I visited was just a few-minutes drive up the mountain. This house was the least expensive one, but still the biggest house with the most living space, indoors and outdoors. Since it was higher up the mountain and all the electricity cables on the street were underground, the views got even five times better.
3. 4050 Via Laguna $4,000,000
The last house I visited was all the way up north in Hope Ranch. The house was located on a dead-end street and was surrounded by a beautiful golf course. Since this house has no views, it provides you a lot of privacy and it has a pool and hot-tub. This house felt very different than the other two homes, but from the inside it was definitely the most updated.
Montecito is located east of Santa Barbara. This area has the most beautiful and exclusive real estate in Santa Barbara. Montecito is a community of its own. There are some beautiful stores, hotels and beaches that are very famous and exclusive. Some hotels in Montecito are considered the best in the United States. Montecito is also known for having celebrity residents. Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry and Oprah Winfrey all own a beautiful estate in Montecito. On Sunday October 14th, I went to three open houses in this area.
1. 636 Woodley Road $6,795,000
This house, close to Coast Village Road, is a modern house with floor-to-ceiling windows and gorgeous mountain views. The modern homes are very rare here in Santa Barbara. That’s why the house is rather expensive for it’s low square footage.
2. 1147 Glenview Road $5,900,000
The next house was just down the street from the first one. This one faced towards the ocean so it has beautiful ocean views. The house had multiple levels with a gorgeous game room, sauna and even an outdoor kitchen. Every room has a beautiful ocean view.
3. 2775 Bella Vista Drive $7,000,000
The last house I saw in Montecito was definitely the best one I saw in all of Santa Barbara. It was all the way up in the mountains of Montecito, far away from the busy streets downtown. It was extremely quiet. The only thing you could hear were the birds and the fountain that was running into the pool. The views here were almost unbelievable. You could see all the way from Carpinteria to downtown SB and the pier.
- Santa Ynez
Santa Ynez is about a 30-minute drive from Santa Barbara, but also has some amazing luxury real estate. The real estate is very different from Hope Ranch or Montecito. Most people in Santa Ynez want a vineyard or horses, so most of the real estate has a lot of land and people are looking for ranches. Prices can also get really high. You can buy a rather small ranch for about $3-4 million, but, if you are looking for a ranch with more than 100 acres of land, you can easily pay around $13-14 million dollars. Santa Ynez is also a popular spot for celebrities. The famous “Neverland Ranch”, which used to be Micheal Jackson’s house, is now for sale for over $60 million dollars. Also, the famous singer Pink bought a ranch in Santa Ynez five years ago and is now starting her own wine brand.
So, in conclusion, I can say that Santa Barbara is an expensive place for first-time homebuyers and maybe even homebuyers in general. There are also many hidden places that were turned into exclusive and luxury neighborhoods, and, last but not least, there is a real estate market for celebrities that want to escape LA for more privacy.