Montecito is the Place to Be

By Mark Ashton Hunt   |   October 21, 2020

Judging by the home buying activity in the last few months, we can easily conclude that Montecito is “The place to be.” Since the terrible home sales in April and May brought on by strict lockdown measures, Montecito has experienced the highest number of sales per month that most real estate agents can ever remember. 

The graph reflecting sales and comparing this summer to the same months over the past five years looks like a rocket shooting up, well outperforming any of the past five years by doubling or tripling sales over any previous July, August, or September in those years.

After months of brisk sales and few new listings, there are only a handful of homes available in each price range at this point in Montecito. For instance, at this moment, there are only a few freestanding, single-family residences listed for sale in the Montecito Union School District, priced under $4 million. Usually there would be a dozen or more available in that under $4 million range but not right now. 

The least expensive single-family residence in the school district right now is priced at $2.7 million. From there it’s the mid to high $3 millions. And if you are looking for one of those fixers at $2.2 million or $2.4 million that you saw in March, forget it, they are gone – and if they came back now they would be 15 percent higher in price.

Also, Montecito is terribly low on inventory in all price ranges. Even the $10 million-plus housing inventory is being depleted due to a significant number of on and off market sales in recent months. It is indeed these off-market sales that are most difficult to track, in terms of who the buyers were, prices paid, etc, with many home purchases being under the name of an LLC or a financial representative or other. 

An off-market sale of $44 million-plus was recorded recently on Picacho Lane and another near the San Ysidro Ranch is rumored to have sold for just around $27 million. We hear that other big and significant sales are happening as I type this, but only time and further reporting will tell the full story of how many homes are selling and for what prices and to what household names.

As I love statistics, here are a few. In the past 30 days dating back to September 10, there were approximately 48 sales recorded in the Multiple Listing Service in the 93108 zip code. This included 10 sales between $5 million and $10 million, as well as three sales at more than $10 million, which is unheard of in the same month in the area. There were only five recorded sales of more than $10 million all of last year.

I estimate that an extra 100 to 120 homes (let’s call it 110) more than in recent years have changed hands in just this summer. Now, as a good number of these sales have been more than $5 million, and as high as $18 million, with numerous sales over $7 million, it is possible these additional 110 homes sold could account for as much as $700 million plus or minus in additional home sales over the summer compared to recent years. That’s a big wow.

Looking at the various price ranges in Montecito and the available inventory of each this past week, I found the $7 million range to be offering great value for price, but also this is a price range that is very low on available inventory, with only seven homes actively on the market between $7 million and $8 million and four of them are featured here. 

In this price range one often finds a mini version of a $10 million estate, or a rarity such as a historic architectural estate of merit on multiple acres or a dialed in beachfront home on the sand, a castle in the sky with a pool, etc… but something special for sure. 

495 Valley Club Road – $7,500,000

Offered for the first time in 50 years, a private residential masterpiece, The Erdman House (1958). Four knoll top acres. A midcentury Montecito treasure designed by architect Lutah Maria Riggs. An 8,000-plus square foot compound featuring a stunning example of midcentury vernacular, Lutah Maria Riggs’ use of shakkei or borrowed scenery or landscape, is evident in almost every room. 

The courtyard, once centered around the reflecting pool, looks to the rectangular swimming pool up to the mountains through stands of pine and eucalyptus trees. Gated and private, one is transported back to a simpler time where the enjoyment of the outdoors translated to refuge and peaceful living. 

The home offers three bedrooms and four full and two half baths, a one-bedroom one-bathroom pool house, four carports, four garages, and a workshop. A true compound to be maintained for the next generation and located in the Montecito Union School District.

2600 Bella Vista Drive – $7,950,000 

This gated Montecito Mediterranean estate rests on 32 acres of above street privacy and offers mature landscaping and huge ocean views. The home was designed to complement and enhance the panoramic views from many rooms. Beyond the impressive entry gates there is a long, curving cobblestone driveway and outdoor living spaces reflecting the unique qualities of this very serene site. 

Designed to appear as a natural extension of the home, the infinity pool completes the feeling of a residence ‘’built to inspire’’ with its connection to the land above Montecito’s valley and coastline. Enjoy the four bedrooms and five bathrooms in approximately 5,700 square feet of living space, multiple fireplaces, skylights, central air conditioning, a private well, and all within the Montecito Union School District.

1556 Miramar Beach – $7,950,000

Located on a private, gated lane on Montecito’s revered Miramar Beach, and a stone’s throw from the new Rosewood Miramar Hotel, rests this lovely, renovated beach house. The beachfront homes on Miramar Beach are treasured in the community and rarely experience turnover of ownership. 

This home distinguishes itself as one of the few that have been so generously updated, with an extensive list of modern amenities. The home consists of three levels, each boasting high-end materials and features such as a skylight on the top level, sets of bi-fold doors opening to balconies overlooking the beach, and direct access to the sand. 

The lower level deck has stairs to the sand, and a discreet hatch offering access to a large lower storage space. An exterior staircase provides convenient access from the beach level to the top level. Two designated parking spaces are reserved for this home, and guest parking is available. Homes on Miramar Beach are in the Montecito Union School District.

1130 East Mountain Drive – $7,950,000 

Endless ocean and island views span the horizon from this chic contemporary home with detached guest suite. Dramatic spaces open seamlessly to extensive view terraces and create a tranquil indoor/outdoor flow that defines Santa Barbara and Montecito living. 

The expansive main-level primary suite offers a peaceful way to begin and end your days, with an ocean view office, dual closets, and a fitness area. The suite rivals your favorite resort. The first second-level bedroom suite looks to the sea and the other enjoys mountain views. 

At 6,300-plus square feet of living space, the home also features a laundry room, butler’s pantry, air conditioning, and a coveted, ground floor primary suite. With nearly seven acres and a shared well, the grounds are ripe for an orchard, all within minutes of the Upper Village and in the Cold Spring School District.


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