Santa Barbara Is #1 In Emerging Housing Markets

Maureen McDermut

Santa Barbara Real Estate Market Named Top Emerging Market In U.S. & The Wall Street Journal put out their annual list of top emerging real estate markets for 2024 back in February, and Santa Barbara topped the list. So what exactly does that mean for you if you're looking to buy a home in Santa Barbara or list your Santa Barbara home for sale in 2024? We're going to delve into the list and see how being in the tope emerging housing market can benefit you this year.

Analysis of the Top Emerging Housing Markets list for 2024

Santa Barbara has the highest median home listing price among the top 20 emerging markets at $1.75 million. The next closest median home list price on the list is Portland, Maine, which comes in at $600,000. Historically, this list typically features communities with median home prices between $250,000-$450,000, so to see markets with higher price points tells us a lot about the state of the U.S. housing market, as well as quite a bit about the Santa Barbara real estate market.

For one, price appreciation has not slowed down, despite some of the doom & gloom predictions of analysts. Last year, for example, Concord, NH had a median list price of $435,000. Now, this community has a median list price of $575,000. Likewise, Santa Barbara has seen the median home price skyrocket by $211,000 since March 2023. Of course, housing supply constraints play a role in this, but there are other factors that have made Santa Barbara a desirable housing market, which we will explore in a bit.

A second insight from the list is that while lower price points are still in demand, buyers are considering other factors when it comes to the cities and towns they are looking in. For one, a sense of community and excellent schools were ranked as two top considerations for homebuyers in Santa Barbara, while price was the top factor in many of the communities on the list. In fact, according to the report, Toledo, OH made the list on price consideration alone, having a median home price that is more than 40% lower than the national average. Amenities played a major role in other communities, such as Columbus, OH.

A third takeaway from the rankings is that demand has not waned, despite elevated mortgage interest rates. This is evident in some of the more prevalent complaints about the housing markets, which are that supply is low. which makes it difficult to find available homes even in the emerging markets.

Why is Santa Barbara at the top of the list?

While those of us that live in the Santa Barbara area understand the unique and special community we have, buyers are starting to discover it as well. Most of the demand comes from either Los Angeles or New York, which are big cities that offer a lot to do. Santa Barbara gives residents a small-town feel while still having plenty of events and other amenities that are highly desirable to those moving to California.

Likewise, Santa Barbara attracts international movers as well, those that seek a luxury community without the hustle and bustle of a big city like New York or L.A. With communities like Montecito and Hope Ranch, these folks can even get the benefit of celebrity sightings without having to attend a movie premiere and deal with L.A. traffic.

Can you buy a home in Santa Barbara?

While the median listing price in Santa Barbara is much higher than the other cities on the emerging markets list, home prices in Santa Barbara are affordable when compared to other communities in California. The proximity to Los Angeles and San Diego makes it a fantastic place to live if you work in the bigger cities. There is much to do in Santa Barbara, which makes it a desirable community to live in.

Are you looking for a home in Santa Barbara? Contact Maureen McDermut for expert assistance from a top selling Santa Barbara Realtor.


Maureen has been around the industry for a lifetime. Her business is based on the core values and ethics taught to her at a very young age: integrity, honesty, and great communication.