Similar to the south coast Santa Barbara real estate market as a whole, the Riviera market experienced a healthy year of sales and strong appreciation growth in 2013.  Last year I reported that Riviera home prices had finally turned the corner after 5 years of decline with a small yet positive 2% increase from the prior year.  The upward trend in price appreciation gained quite a bit of steam this year with a final median price of $1,540,000 representing a significant 12% increase from 2012.

 A further analysis of the sales data shows that there were 3 times as many sales in the sub-million category in 2012 compared with 2013, however there were fewer sales above $2 million in 2013.  This suggests that the majority of the appreciation occurred in the lower priced segment of the market.  Furthermore, all of the appreciation occurred in the first half of the year as the final median price was essentially the same as it was at the half way point.   In retrospect, there were two factors that caused this significant decline in momentum after the first six months.  First of all, fewer homes came on the market in the second half.   Secondly, many of those that did come on the market were priced well above market value due to sellers wanting to take advantage of the first true “seller’s market” that we have experienced in many years. 

 Looking forward to 2014, it is not apparent that the price appreciation will continue unless the two factors mentioned above are reversed.  The current inventory of homes for sale is extremely low, and many of the available properties have been lingering on the market due to the disconnect between the list prices and reality.  I know that the demand side of the equation is still very strong, as I continually get requests from other agents with their buyers’ needs for Riviera properties in various price ranges.  I am certain that another healthy year of Riviera sales is in store as long as the supply of appropriately priced homes materializes to satisfy those buyers that are ready and anxious to buy.





The third quarter of 2013 slightly outperformed the second quarter with 4 more sales and a 3% increase in the median price.  There was also a much larger ratio of sales over $1 million compared to those under $1 million, as the sub-million dollar inventory is nearly nonexistent. Overall the median price is now up 13% from where it ended in 2012, however the pace of appreciation is dissipating.


While the inventory of homes for sale has increased somewhat from earlier in the year, there is still not enough homes to satisfy the demand.  As a result nearly half of the 24 homes sold were “off market” sales or listings that sold within a few days after hitting the MLS (some with multiple offers).  One of the most extreme examples of the lack of inventory is in the $2 to $3 million category.  There were only 3 homes that sold in this range in the third quarter and just a handful that are currently available.  I get calls and e-mails constantly from agents hoping there will be more homes coming on the market in this price range, so I know that the demand is strong and craving new inventory. 


It is difficult to predict at this point how the year will finish.  There are currently only 4 pending sales in the Riviera and surrounding neighborhoods that I track.  Much of the current inventory has been lingering on the market, as many homes were priced with unrealistic expectations hoping to take advantage of the current “seller’s market”.  At the same time, the buyers are anxious to buy but are waiting for good inventory that is priced competitively to come on the market.  The tendency at this time of year is for sellers to wait until after the holidays to bring their homes on the market, and because of this I don’t expect much change in the current dynamic until early next year.  However, if enough sellers decide to take advantage of the current unsatisfied buyer demand the fourth quarter may finish strong.

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