When the mudslides devastated Montecito, many of its residents were left without their homes and possessions. Some drove south to places like Malibu in Los Angeles for its proximity. Others, as it turns out, chose an otherwise unknown community up the coast near Santa Barbara.
Home sales in Hope Ranch, a roughly 1,860-acre residential development, have increased 133 percent in the last year as a result of the Montecito displacement, the Wall Street Journal reported.
It’s also led to a hike in prices. This year, the median sale price has jumped 21 percent to $3.4 million. Three homes have also sold for over $10 million, up from just two last year and zero in 2016.
Former Montecito residents are choosing the sleepy town — there are no grocery stores or real restaurants — mainly because it’s providing a safer alternative to the devastated city. It’s located on the other side of the Santa Ynez Mountains, meaning its less vulnerable to fires and mudslides.
Rebuilding in Montecito could also take years, adding to the list of reasons why some former residents are hesitant to move back.
Still, the less glamorous town might not be the end all be all. There’s a Hope Ranch Park Homes Association that places some restrictions on residential building. The community also lacks celebrity cache, public schools and nightlife.
The mudslides in Montecito killed 20 people and damaged or destroyed more than 400 properties. That’s in addition to the damage caused from the Thomas Fire, the trigger point for the mudslides. That fire killed two people and destroyed roughly 1,000 structures and 281,893 acres.[WSJ] —Natalie Hoberman