The latest indications that we have seen the end of the sagging real estate market have started some Santa Barbara homeowners thinking it may be time to sell. For those who are wondering if the long recession has altered how people look for homes – and if so, in what ways – we’ve noticed a couple of new trends.
As before, the first stop for most potential buyers is the Santa Barbara MLS listings. When you compare the language and features most prominent there, huge changes do not leap out. But a comparison with former language does reveal something of a shift in emphasis: many details that highlight opulence (to some, excess) are being replaced by features much more in tune with practicality and efficiency (to some, frugality). You would expect that, since consumer confidence is still less than robust.
The trend to open floor plans is nothing new: fewer walls; more living is an idea many buyers embrace. The more casual “great room” is almost always more desirable to today’s buyer than the formal living and dining rooms of 30 years ago.
As the baby-boomer generation grows older, issues of accessibility and mobility become more important. Santa Barbara MLS listings that boast easy-access showers, baths, bedrooms and kitchens are highly desired and sought after by buyers in that populous group. Such listings signal a home already equipped for easy access -- meaning no extra dollars will be needed for retrofitting the property. Even for those who have no immediate need for those features, eliminating a future expense (even if it seems a distant concern) can be attractive.
Prominence is growing for features that relate to extra living space. The demographic reasons are clear: in-law apartments or bachelor studios have added value for families whose children may have to move back in with them (the “boomerang” effect). Since such units may be rented for extra income in tough times, they bring an added element of financial security. Large garages fall into this category as well (but no longer for that brand-new Hummer!) Today’s MLS listings featuring an extra large garage are viewed as desirable by Santa Barbara buyers looking to convert it into extra useable space: man-cave, gym, extra storage, or, increasingly, home office space.
Today’s homebuyer seems considerably more environmentally conscious than heretofore. Homes that feature solar panels, green toilets or other water-efficient plumbing, and radiant light windows are increasingly desirable. This may be due to growing social responsibility -- but I’d bet that reduced utility bills can’t be far behind. As a result, green technology features are working their way up in Santa Barbara MLS listings.
In case you have been thinking of buying or selling a Santa Barbara property, give us a call.
Year after year one of Santa Barbara’s top realtors, our office is here in Santa Barbara & Montecito to help with your Santa Barbara home search and Montecito home search.