The ripple of real estate rumors has been confirmed. After months of house-hunting, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have purchased an extravagant 18,000-square-foot estate in Montecito, California, for $14.65 million.
And they did it at one of the most competitive times ever in Montecito and Santa Barbara County, the affluent California enclave that Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and Katy Perry call home. Dusty Baker, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty Santa Barbara Coastal, said that the market has exploded since the beginning of the pandemic as affluent city dwellers rushed to buy or rent a property in the ocean community.
“We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of buyers from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, D.C., Dallas,” Baker said. “People are really figuring out what’s best for them in their lives, and they’re buying second homes, primary residences and multi-generational homes so that families can congregate together. It’s a space to feel safe and comfortable and be able to spend time outside, which works really works well in Montecito.”
After stepping down from royal duties and giving up their official titles in the United Kingdom in the winter, Harry and Meghan moved to LA and reportedly rented a Beverly Hills villa belonging to actor and comedian Tyler Perry as they searched for a more permanent home throughout the spring. Long hounded by paparazzi in the UK, Harry and Meghan prioritized privacy once they arrived in L.A.
The home is isolated and guarded from peering eyes, yet photos of it have already begun emerging on gossip websites and royal observer blogs. It’s a Spanish-style property with rose and olive tree gardens, a pool, a tennis court, a tea house, a children’s cottage and a two-bedroom guesthouse for visitors. A source close to the couple told Page Six that they moved quietly in July and have been living there since.
“They intend to put down their roots in this house and the quiet community, which has considerable privacy,” the source said. ” This is where they want to bring Archie up, where they hope he can have as normal a life as possible.”
Amid news of the move, some have speculated that Harry and Meghan may have borrowed money from Prince Charles to buy the home, but sources have denied those rumors.
However, having a lot of liquid money on hand is currently necessary to buy a home in Montecito or anywhere in Santa Barbara. According to Baker, sales in the ultra-luxury, above $4 million range are happening so fast that even those who qualify for a mortgage can’t compete with the abundance of all-cash buyers.
MEGHAN AND HARRY'S NEW 16 BEDROOM HOUSE IN MONTECITO pic.twitter.com/sx7Bufin9g
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“Everything is in cash,” Baker said. “We’ve seen a lot of instant gratification purchases so if you have a turnkey home and it’s vacant and has a pool, you’re likely to see an all-cash deal and a 14-day close.”
As a result, there has been a bit of a market reversal. The most expensive homes, which have previously sat on the market for months and even years, often sell faster than homes worth from $1 to $4 million. The reason, Baker said, is that the ultra-luxury properties tend to draw in an especially privileged crowd that can buy a very expensive property quickly and not deal with the waiting for bank approval — a demographic that has become increasingly more interested in the Santa Barbara area during the pandemic.
As a result, some sellers and homeowners may try to capitalize off the current situation by selling ultra-expensive estates that have sat on the market for months.
“Statistically, a home sale of over $10 million takes a year or two, if we look at numbers over the last 20 years,” Baker said. “[Sellers] are thinking ‘okay if I was planning on selling in the next year or two now is a good time. Not necessarily because I’ll get top top dollar but because it’ll actually happen and relatively quickly.”