Friday, July 25, 2008

Weekend Dilemma: Too Much To See and Do in Santa Barbara's Rich Cultural Community

Happy Friday everyone!

With the whole weekend ahead of me, I've decided to blog a little about the cultural offerings in Santa Barbara. If I were to cover absolutely everything I could experience in any given weekend here, I would have to get into more of a treatise on the pros and cons of living somewhere where there is ALWAYS something interesting happening. From cultural festivals to live performances and visual arts - there really is something for everybody.

This weekend is the annual Greek Festival held in Oak Park. The quiet neighborhood park is transformed into a shady summertime gathering place for people of all ages to enjoy great food and entertainment. I love this event because it gives me an excuse to walk through the charming Samarkand neighborhood and take in all the delightful cottage-style homes on the surrounding streets. Then waiting just around the corner are the lively Greek musicians and dancers on the Parthenon Stage who spread their infectious rhythms until everyone is on their feet!

For classical music lovers, the Music Academy of the West comes to life in the summer for 8 weeks. Perched on the Montecito bluffs adjacent to Butterfly Beach, the academy hosts gifted young musicians and gives them the amazing opportunity to perform with illustrious guest artists (last season opened with conductor/composer John Williams). Events are usually held downtown at the Lobero and now at Hahn Hall, the newly constructed theater on their campus. Attending any event during their Summer Festival is a treat!

One of Santa Barbara's little gems is the Contemporary Arts Forum (located upstairs in the shopper's paradise Paseo Nuevo). This weekend CAF hosts a short film festival at Samy's Camera. The outdoor event is the perfect way to enjoy a beautiful evening under the Santa Barbara stars.

Now if only I could decide what to do, I might be able to narrow down my dining options... Don't even get me started on my favorite Santa Barbara restaurants!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A PERFECT STORM: Santa Barbara is a Buyer's Market Amidst National Slump

A Down Market you say? A recent CNN article confirms that falling real estate markets are still running their course.

Contrary to national headlines there are cities and communities flourishing in this so called “down” real estate market. Perspective is an interesting thing – it shifts - and from where you stand, the information just might lean in your favor. In a perfect storm a set of disparate events combine to create an exceptionally powerful phenomenon with great impact or influence. It is at just such a time that ones individual perspective is most important. A perspective from within the storm calls for specific response, while a perspective from outside the storm calls for an often entirely different course of action.

Despite the general trend across the country, real estate values in Montecito and Hope Ranch California have continued to rise since the beginning of the year. Both areas are experiencing double digit increases with Montecito values up almost 25% and Hope Ranch up 10% thus far in 2008. If you are considering buying or selling in the Santa Barbara area and you are relying on the national news for real estate updates, I think it is time to shift away from that broad general perspective and zone in on a local perspective that is truly relevant to your personal real estate needs. Yes, the general perspective countrywide is that of a “down” market, however, Santa Barbara is not in the eye of the storm.

Indeed, there is another set of events which make this a fantastic time in real estate. Yes, our community does have its share of foreclosures and REO’s. If you are looking to get into one of the most beautiful communities in the world it just might behoove you to act with haste. However, interest rates are still incredibly low (jumbo loans in the low to mid 6% range) and there is an abundance of inventory with over 600 homes on the market between Carpinteria and Goleta. Those familiar with the “ins” and “outs” of real estate in Santa Barbara County might actually call this a buyers market. This kind of talk has not been on the lips of real estate agents since the late 1980s.

History loves to repeat itself and the buyers that take advantage of the market today are going to be those who will talk about the bargains they were able to find in Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Hope Ranch in 2008. I promise you, it won’t last forever.

If your future investments include a plan for purchasing real estate in Southern Santa Barbara County history tells the story of economic regression followed by recovery and increased market values.