By Rodney Smeester

Santa Ynez Valley Association of Realtors

Real estate sales in the Santa Ynez Valley are in a state of flux. The market appeared to go to sleep in the last quarter of 2018. Sales volume from the prior year was down roughly 40 percent.

As of March 31, even though volume is recovering some, this year appears to be providing more signs of hesitation, if not a market top. As shown the table, the first-quarter median sales prices and average sales prices were down. March showed signs of sales picking up, and the latest month, April, had a significant sales volume increase, providing hope that the market could pick up once again.

The first quarter of this year’s sales volume compared to the first quarter in 2018 decreased by 12.5 percent: 56 units were sold as of March 31, and 64 units were sold during the same period in 2018. The median sales price decreased 13.8 percent from $800,000 to $690,000, while the average sales price decreased 2.5 percent from $1,112,606 to $1,084,874.

Year to year sales in the fourth quarter of 2018 slowed drastically, but median and average sales prices were mixed.

Sales for the months of March 2018 and 2019 were a mixed bag. Sales volume in March 2019 decreased to 21 units from 33 units in March 2018. The median price decreased to $727,000 from $785,000, but the average sales price increased to $1,091,290 from $991,463. The sales volume decreased 36.4 percent, the median sales price decreased 7.4 percent, while the average price increased 10.1 percent between March 2018 and March 2019.

These numbers are of a short window in an already petite market segment, which could give the appearance of large changes even thought the changes are only incremental. One or two fewer mid-price sales and one or two higher-range sales could account for the diverging average and median sales prices. The important point is that these numbers are not all weak for the time period.

This year, March appeared to do better than the first-quarter totals, indicating January and February were consistent with the slowdown in the last quarter of 2018, and March 2019 saw an increase in activity but saw a price pullback. April tended to stay with this trend.

Fortunately, the numbers for 2019 year-to-date are not completely negative. Price, sales volume, and days on the market appear to be inconsistent, which is a change to the Santa Ynez Valley real estate market from the across the board solid improvement of the last several years.

The market has not reversed, though. It is not a buyer’s market, nor is it a seller’s market. The real estate market appears to be in a consolidation period. It does not appear to be at a top ready to fall. The economy is too strong at this time, and it will provide support for the real estate market.

Even though real estate sales are not as strong as in previous years, jobs and primarily interest rates have never been better. This is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a home.