2020, What a Year It Has Been… So Far

By Mark Ashton Hunt   |   December 24, 2020

As we begin to slow the ride on this incredible rollercoaster of a year, it is important to consider all that has changed in the past 11-plus months. The pandemic, the political and social climate of uncertainty, the business and day-to-day implications of these circumstances that make it feel like a lifetime of adjustment all in one year for so many. 

Generational changes forced into months of planning instead of years, long-term goals and major plans put on hold and all the rest – not to mention the need for people to maximize the functionality of their homes and property to accommodate for more time and often more people, living and working at home. 

Work, for those who are able to do so remotely, schooling at all grade levels often from home, recreation and family entertainment, have all turned inward to each other and our homes and how we use them have become more important than ever.

It may seem to those who may only read the headlines that residents in the Montecito area were not hit with the same financial hardships facing most of the population of the United States. But let’s remember that not everyone who lives here is a multi-millionaire. Wealthy, or just over the hurdle financially and in position to buy a property in Montecito, there is most commonly a shared perspective of why someone wants to live here. 

This is a place of beauty that offers most every service, restaurant type, and of course the recreational opportunities such as our lovely beaches, hiking trails, and meandering streets. All hail the new walkways put in place, and those to come, connecting the Upper and Lower villages. 

With its proximity to Los Angeles, the cultural advantages of the greater Santa Barbara and UCSB arts and entertainment structures (Arts & Lectures, the plays, the symphony, the Granada, Lobero and Arlington theaters, the SB Film Fest and more), Montecito is a unique place. But for now, with all of that on hold, we just have the land and the air, and for that alone, Montecito can’t be beaten.

As we wrap up this year in the Montecito real estate market, here is a quick look at Montecito real estate sales (in the Multiple Listing Service, MLS), through the end of November 2020. The statistics reveal a year on paper that is incomparable to any year in the past, in both volume of sales and number of sales exceeding $10 million. From Jan 1 through November 30, 2020, there were 315 sales in the MLS, up a whopping 40+/-%, over normal years and still with December to report. 

We will likely close out 2020 with approximately 350 home and condo sales between January and December, when normal years have seen more like 225-250 homes sold. This year saw a record number of off-market sales, with numerous jaw-dropping sales at more than $20 million and two sales over $40 million on Picacho Lane within weeks of one another. 

These are prices we have not seen in Montecito, ever, prices more generally reserved for top streets in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and the Sunset Strip. It seems that people have finally noticed what real estate agents in the area have known all along, that Montecito is worth the price of admission, at every level of the pricing food chain. 

As is normal, about 50 percent of all sales in Montecito this year on the MLS have been in the $3 million and less range. To that end, there are only a dozen or so homes and condos listed for less $3 million in all of the 93108 zip code. 

The available housing inventory for sale in Montecito, in all price ranges, has never been lower. There are, as of December 9, only 79 homes and condos to choose from across all price ranges in Montecito – from $699,000 for a cottage in the hills to a half dozen or so choices in the $25 million-plus range and everything in between. 

Most of the properties available at this moment are asking for more than $4 million, a price range that Montecito is more commonly known for. However, there will always be condos and smaller cottages on quiet lanes for those in the lower price ranges to fight over.

Of the 79 homes and condos I was able to choose from for this feature, here are six homes available across all price ranges of $3 million and more that are on the market at the time of writing. Additionally, with no intention, all homes featured here are within the Montecito Union School District.

Here is hoping that you have a great holiday season and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s what in 2021 – some rain for the area, it is hoped, and the continued efforts by all who live here to maintain the natural beauty of Montecito and the open communication residents have that make this a special place to live.

1399 Plaza Pacifica – $3,595,000

This is a great opportunity to own a remodeled top floor, single-level beach side condo at Bonnymede, boasting solid ocean views and a spacious patio. Soak up the glimmering ocean vistas from the living room, dining area, master bedroom, and open air balcony. Step out to the balcony situated off the living room and master bedroom, and admire views from Hammond’s Beach down the coastline to Ventura.

The chic 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom condo features higher ceilings, a travertine fireplace, wood paneled walls, wide plank oak flooring, marble counter tops, contemporary white lacquered kitchen cabinets, and new appliances. The two en-suite bedrooms feature remodeled bathrooms and nice natural light. There is in-unit laundry and a two-car garage, a rarity within the complex. 

Additional value added features include common area tennis, swimming pool, and beachfront area, all within the 24 hour, guard gated complex.

789 Park Lane – $5,250,000 

Where two famed Montecito streets merge, near the corner of Park Lane and East Mountain Drive is this 1.65-acre estate, comprised of 8 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, all within the cared for, 1937 Monterey Colonial home. Near hiking trails and the San Ysidro Ranch, the home encompasses 7,000+/- square feet of living space with a 2-bedroom guesthouse and mature landscaping with oak and olive tree groves. 

This is a great opportunity with a close in location, and with neighboring sales around or above this price. Move in as is, or remodel to suit your tastes. Generously proportioned living areas include an impressive great room, grand dining room, primary suite with his and hers baths, and a sitting area that opens to the wraparound veranda. 

An entertainment terrace just off the great room and dining room provide classic California indoor/outdoor living. There is ample parking, and the home is located just five or six blocks from the Upper Village in Montecito for those who can and like to walk to town.

1908 Boundary Drive – $8,450,000

This is a very rare opportunity to own an ocean view, two-story pool home within the exclusive, 24-hour guard-gated Birnam Wood community. The 1975 Wallace Neff Estate was reimagined in 2014 for today’s lifestyle and includes more than 6,000 square feet of living space. The impressive 2-story living room, full of rich details and bathed in southern light, opens to a large entertaining terrace that offers views to the sea. 

The cozy family room opens to an all-white kitchen featuring premium appliances, noticeably the La Cornue range, and custom cabinetry. The entire second level of the home is dedicated to the spacious, ocean-view primary suite with dual soaking baths and closets. The balcony overlooks the pool, spa, and a large studio, ideal for meetings and movies. 

Start or end your days backed by a warm fire on the terrace. Meander to the clubhouse for dinner or meet friends for a round of golf, all located between the beaches and the mountains in Montecito. 

1811 Fernald Point Lane – $9,250,000 

Situated in the oceanfront-gated community at Fernald Point, this sophisticated, tri-level contemporary home offers ocean front views from nearly every room. Surrounded by mature trees and beautiful landscaping, the nearly 3,500-square-foot, 4-bedroom home includes a beachfront entertainment deck, with room for enjoyment of the 50-foot wide stretch of sandy beach frontage. 

At the entrance to the home, large modern metal-clad doors open to unveil striking ocean, island, and coastline views. Bright, natural light pours in through multiple skylights, highlighting the Maple flooring. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliders frame the stunning vistas and invite one to step out onto the large ocean-facing balcony. 

The spacious upper level floor plan offers a natural flow throughout the kitchen, living, and dining areas. Accentuating the home’s sleek feel is a central Maple spiral staircase that leads to the lower level rooms, bedrooms, and to the expansive ocean-facing deck – and from there enjoy direct access to the sand and surf.

975 Lilac Drive – $14,900,000

Ocean views, timeless architecture, and world-class craftsmanship coalesce in a magical Montecito location on Lilac Drive. Designed by Marc Appleton and built by Leonard Unander Associates, Villa Ravello is an incredible estate with understated elegance and an easy sense of sophistication. 

Long site lines showcase thoughtful details throughout the home. Nearly every room in the residence opens to a terrace and different natural beauty: 

the sea, mountains, lacy oak trees, or lush lawns. Here, indoor/outdoor integration is seamless. A guesthouse is ideal for extended visitors and the pool/cabana call for fun. A detached office lets you keep work at bay and is perfect for creative endeavors. 

With ample spaces for formal entertaining as well as casual everyday moments, Villa Ravello is a luxury estate offering the 10,500+/-square-foot main home, as well as 1900+/- square feet for your use in the other structures, all on a prime, 2.62-acre lot, providing privacy and room to move about in a prestigious location.

1630 East Mountain Drive – $22,000,000

Neighboring the world-renowned San Ysidro Ranch, this contemporary masterpiece parallels the privacy, sensational grounds, gorgeous views, and timeless romance for which the high-end resort is known. 

Designed with attention to detail and incredible scale, and showcasing enchanting ocean, island, and mountain views from nearly every room, this estate helps to define the perception of elevated living in Montecito. With nearly 10,000 square feet on 3 acres, the open concept 4-bedroom, 4 full, 2-and-a-half bathroom main residence and 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom guesthouse are an entertainer’s dream.

Features include a large media room with built-in bar, gym, office, wine cellar, and a chef’s kitchen replete with top of the line appliances, a spacious center island and opening to an expansive terrace with fireplace and built-in barbecue area. The grounds are devoted to indoor-outdoor living, inclusive of meandering pathways framed by manicured gardens, succulent arrangements, bocce court, pool, spa, sitting areas, tall hedges, and fruit trees. 

The property is complete with a whole house generator, solar array with house functionality integration and pool heating functions, advanced air filtration & water purification systems with 10,000 gallons of onsite storage, a private well and advanced fire suppression systems.


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