Montecito Luxury Gift Guide: Deck The Halls

To get everyone it the mood for the holiday season, we’ve put together a 2012 Montecito Luxury Holiday Gift Guide. Each week we’ll cover a new topic, including gifts for the home, him and her. Happy Holidays!


1. This year succulents have become in staple in home decor, adding beautiful accents in seaside communities such as Santa Barbara and Montecito.  This gorgeous faux succulent wreath by Botanik of neighboring Summerland is the perfect addition to holiday decor and will last year after year.  Botanik Succulent Wreath $195

2. What could be more luxurious than toasting family and friends with a crystal-clad champagne flute? Swarovski Crystalline Toasting Flutes, $390

3. Don’t forget the perfect wine for your upcoming holiday parties. Look locally for a varietal that will wow even the most discerning guest. Just this year, Wine Spectator awarded Vogelzang Vineyards with an outstanding rating for their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, receiving 92 points. In sunny Santa Barbara, a Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with appetizers and seafood even during the winter holidays. Want to really impress your guests? Purchase the entire 180-acre Santa Ynez Valley Vogelzang Vineyard, currently listed with Rebecca Riskin & Associates. 2010 Vogelzang Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (12 bottles), $384; Vogelzang Vineyard, Happy Canyon, $7,250,000

4. When decking the halls, don’t forget to deck your pooch! To make a real impression at your next holiday gathering, fasten this striking genuine leather bow tie on your favorite four-legged friend and turn on the charm. D.O.G. Pet Boutique Bow Wow Tie Collar, $69.95

5. Deck the halls of your Santa Barbara or Montecito Beach Home with a fabulous driftwood tree. Restoration Hardware’s decorative trees are handcrafted by artisans with natural driftwood and promise to provide the perfect touch of seaside shabby chic. Restoration Hardware Driftwood Tree (35″), $125


Pending home sales at promising levels

Montecito Historic Hedgerow Estate sale pending

A pending home sale in Montecito, CA

As another good sign for the housing market, the National Association of Realtors reported another increase in pending home sales last month. The Pending Home Sales Index increased by over 5% in October, signalling the highest level in over five years. Pending home sales have risen for 18 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis. A chief economist from the National Association of Realtors noted that we are finally feeling the impact of steady job creation and consumer confidence. Learn more here…

Record Real Estate Highs and Lows

A Santa Barbara equestrian estate listed at $19.2 million.

Nationwide home prices are on the rise, posting the largest % gain in over two years. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, the third quarter 3.6% increase year over year is the biggest jump in house prices since early 2010. In addition, home prices have increased for six consecutive months. The Wall Street Journal credits several factors for continued price increases, including an increase in rents, a decrease in foreclosures and distressed sales, and the lowest housing inventory in nearly 50 years.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates continue to fall, reaching new record lows last week for the second consecutive week as reported by Freddie Mac. 30 year fixed rates averaged a new low of 3.31%, down from 3.98% a year ago.

Delayed financing the new norm?

Montecito Contemporary Home with ocean, mountain views

A recently reduced ocean-view home in the competitive Montecito market

In real estate, all-cash buyers are king. It’s common knowledge that buyers who come in with all-cash offers can close quickly and offer the most secure deals, often beating out other offers backed by conventional financing. But with recent mortgage rates at record lows, financing has also become very appealing. So which option should you choose?

A recent phenomenon called delayed financing is becoming a common practice of affluent buyers. Instead of deciding between bringing a strong, all-cash offer and the benefit of record-low financing, buyers are choosing both. With limited inventory and competitive bidding, these buyers are coming in with strong, all-cash offers, only to turn around and secure financing as soon escrow closes. Rarely used two years ago, delayed financing is becoming very popular in >$1 million coastal housing markets. To learn more, check out this recent Wall Street Journal article.


Lucky “8” Real Estate

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal featured lucky numbers in real estate. Apparently the number 4 is very unlucky for Asian buyers, similar to the word for “death.” Both addresses and listing prices should avoid this number. On the other hand, the number 8 is very lucky, similar to the word “prosperity” or “wealth.” Lucky for us, we have a listing with three 8’s in the address! Our listing at 888 Lilac Drive is at the height of luxury and world-class quality, built as a toxin free home with timeless elegance. Perhaps it will bring a lucky buyer a lifetime of prosperity, along with endless ocean views, a swimmer’s pool and Wimbledon standards lawn!

Timeless Elegance in Montecito, California

A lucky listing at 888 Lilac Drive, Montecito, California

Where Do Our Buyers Come From?

A report titled “Who’s Buying Homes in Santa Barbara County” was recently released following a local survey. The findings included the origin of buyers, primary or secondary home purchases, first time homebuyer stats and where sellers were moving on to. A total of fifteen realtors participated in the survey, providing details on 165 closed sales, while our own Village Properties provided data on 204 closed sales, all from the first half of 2012.

The survey found that 69% of buyers came from the South Coast, while only 31% came from out of town. These numbers are consistent with the area’s average over the past eight years that the survey has been conducted. Only 16% of buyers came from outside California, and an even smaller 4% came from outside the United States. Of the California buyers originating outside of Santa Barbara County, the majority came from the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

The survey also indicated that 58% of sellers appear to be downsizing, which is up 8% over the historical average. Also interesting to note, 36% of those downsizing indicated they are leaving the South Coast. While this may seem high, it’s actually lower that the average calculated throughout the survey’s history.

Rebecca Riskin & Associates 2012 Buyer Origin Breakdown This got us to thinking….where do our buyers come from? As we specialize in Montecito properties of distinction, certainly our buyer base might look a bit different from the rest of Santa Barbara County. We pulled stats on our own 27 closed sales year-to-date and found the following. Only 22% of our buyers were local, as compared to Santa Barbara County’s 69%. A much higher percentage of our buyers came from elsewhere in California. We also saw a higher percentage of international buyers, at 11% compared with the county’s 4%. We plan to run the numbers again soon to keep tabs on specific high-end Montecito buyers.

October Santa Barbara Sales Statistics

Santa Barbara South County Sales Statistics October 2012Another spike in the Santa Barbara South County sales report for the month of October continues our streak of record real estate numbers this year. October sales grew 23% over the previous month, while numbers were up 66% over the same month last year. It also appears that closed sales picked up again this Fall, avoiding an early 4th quarter slump from years past. Perhaps buyers have taken the recent press coverage to heart regarding the quickly recovering local housing market.