The recession likely is ending for North Santa Barbara County, which should be experiencing stable home prices and employment.
That is the view of economist Mark Schniepp, who spoke at a Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce economic forecast event Nov. 17.
Schniepp said plunging home prices in Santa Barbara County have been fueled by “distressed” sales by banks. In those sales, a lender sells a home – often at a deep discount – to recoup its money after a borrower has failed to repay.
Such transactions peaked in early 2009, Schniepp said, when seven out of every 10 home sales were distressed sales by banks. “It looks like the bottom has been hit,” Schniepp said.
Though home prices are stabilizing, job growth and a turnaround in commercial real estate markets in Santa Maria and Lompoc will be tougher economic benchmarks to achieve, Schniepp said.
Santa Maria has lost about 900 construction jobs because new home building is virtually nonexistent. Office vacancies are at 13.3 percent in Santa Maria, reflecting cuts in financial and real-estate-related services.