The Eight-Figure Market Slows, Leaving More Options for Prospective Buyers

By Mark Ashton Hunt   |   August 12, 2021

As we kick summer into high gear and the fog fights with the sun for control of the day, the real estate market in Montecito remains robust, yet leveling off to a more normal number we are used to seeing in past years. Additionally, we are seeing fewer sales recently in the over $10 million range, which can be an indicator that a market might be cooling off — as they say, the market slows first at the top.

The most notable statistic I found this week that indicated we might be looking at a real estate sales slowdown in Montecito is that, from June 1 to July 17, 2021, we only had 21 homes go under contract into escrow in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). A strong June/July might see 30+/- homes go into escrow during a 45-day period in summer. More recently during COVID’s peak (June 2020 to February 2021), we would see 40+/- homes per month going under contract, more than one a day.

Homes that go pending into escrow are the best indicator we have available to us for predicting how many homes will sell and trade hands in the weeks and months ahead. Thus, a slower sales pipeline (homes going into escrow) nearly always means a slower month of closed transactions ahead. I mention this now as this is the second slower month I have seen in a row for Montecito in both new escrows and escrows closed.

Meanwhile, buyers are shattering records, paying top prices for “done” homes on the best streets, for oceanfront properties or fixer opportunities in the best areas. With the price and wait time to accomplish a remodel, many buyers are looking for something they can move into immediately, while others are willing to enjoy now, do work later, etc. So, we see a mix of what brings top dollar, from fixers to done homes depending on the buyer and their needs and desire for the specific property in question.

Additionally, regarding the over $10 million market, we recently had a record shattering 25+/- sales of more than $10 million in Montecito from January 1 to May 31, 2021. This early 2021 high-end activity was approximately double the number of more than $10 million sales that took place in the last half of 2020 even, which itself had been a record setting period in that price range.

However, sales in the more than $10 million market are cooling off and there is only one home over $10 million in escrow as I type this. And there is a healthy selection of homes for more than $10 million still available, so it’s not due to lack of options. The more than $10 million market currently represents about 30% of all homes for sale in Montecito. That’s how few homes priced under $10 million are actually available for purchase right now. The top end of the market that usually represents only about 3% of all sales annually, now represents 30+% of all available housing for sale in the area.

On the bright side, inventory is growing slowly over the past six weeks in all price ranges for the most part, and some homes from recent weeks are still available and looking for new owners. Here are five homes in various price ranges under $10 million and in different neighborhoods for you to consider.

Happy house hunting!

107 Olive Mill Road – $3,700,000

Newly built in 2019, this open floor plan condominium is centrally located in the heart of Montecito. The Villas at Olive Mill Road offer sophisticated, modern living only steps away from restaurants on Coast Village Road, two short blocks to Butterfly Beach, and all within the Montecito Union School District.

Enjoy the security of a private garage and dual gated entry with this two-bedroom, three-bathroom Villa, consisting of all en-suite bedrooms, featuring an expansive primary bedroom boasting a balcony and oversized walk-in closet. The living area includes a glass flare front fireplace, tall ceilings, and solid French Oak flooring throughout. The chef’s kitchen is equipped with Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances and the enclosed patio-room allows for outdoor lounge space within the comfort of your home.

2815 East Valley Road – $4,425,000

A true Montecito hideaway awaits, and offering more beds, baths, and square footage than most homes in its price range. This home and property on East Valley Road near Ladera Lane, blends the beauty of nature with everyday conveniences. Tucked down a gated driveway, framed by mature oaks and stone accents, you are welcomed to nearly one acre of lush grounds and mature landscaping. 

One of only two homes on the market in Montecito in the competitive $4 to $5 million range right now, this four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom main house was custom built with Brazilian wood, beamed ceilings, and walls of glass, encouraging a seamless communication between the interior and exterior. Spacious living areas flow into expansive entertaining decks. The property also features a two-bedroom guest house with a living room and kitchen.

513 Crocker Sperry Drive – $5,795,000

Renowned architect Jack Warner designed this contemporary Birnam Wood residence in his signature style with a seamless flow throughout. The single-level home is filled with light from glass windows and doors, inviting movement from the interiors to the gardens, showcasing the mountain views. A recent renovation by Dreams & Designs added luxury finishes and enhanced the open floor plan. 

The living spaces center around a spacious kitchen which opens to the family room, dining area, and flows naturally to the living room, with all interior spaces surrounded by walls of windows and doors leading to many outdoor patios and views. Noted landscape architect Isabel Greene designed the gardens, providing each of the three secondary bedroom suites with their own lush patios. Homes in Birnam Wood are within a 24-hour, guard-gated community, and are in the Montecito Union School District.

797 Ashley Road – $6,390,000

Here is a newer, one-acre Montecito residence, that is both grand and comfortable at the same time. With four bedrooms and five bathrooms, the home also has very spacious public rooms with high ceilings and lots of windows and doors opening to the exterior spaces. The multi-level home features a commercial elevator that can bring you from the garage to other levels within the home, with the primary and two other suites on the top level and a ground-level guest suite adjacent to the entertainment/media room.

The high ceiling, main floor living area features a wood-beamed living room, garden view dining room, chef’s kitchen, and a light-filled family room that opens to an expansive wraparound stone patio/entertainment area. Grounds offer room to add amenities and an estate-sized motor court adds value and day-to-day convenience, all within the Cold Spring School District and near hiking trails, Montecito’s villages, and downtown Santa Barbara.

1885 Jelinda Drive – $7,995,000

Showcasing rarely-seen square footage and scale in a home priced under $10 million, this estate features ocean views and is within the exclusive, guard-gated community of Ennisbrook. Resting on a commanding 1.77+/- acre site, the 10,800-plus-square-foot home boasts six bedrooms and seven full and four half bathrooms in the main residence. Enjoy generous entertaining spaces, the pool and cabana, dual gated entry for access, lovely gardens, and more, all within the Montecito Union School District.

Inside, a flexible floor plan offers a great canvas for creating one’s dream home. Details include warm wood floors, numerous fireplaces, multiple living and dining spaces, dual primary suites, with one on the main level, versatile bonus room and a grand foyer. French doors and windows curate warm, sun-soaked rooms while simultaneously capitalizing on Montecito’s highly sought-after indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Outside, an imperial staircase leads to the expansive grounds, pool, and cabana.


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