CELEBRATED ARCHITECT MARC WHITMAN
A Visionary in the Heart of Ojai Valley
MONTECITO: DESTINATION LIVING AT ITS FINEST
The Latest Real Estate Trend Has Always Been in Fashion Here
BUYING A HOUSE WITH CASH: 7 THINGS TO CONSIDER
All-cash buyers can have a real advantage -- if they do their homework
HIDDEN GEMS: VENTURA COUNTY AGRICULTURAL LAND
Ranch Santa Clara del Norte Shines Bright
BUYING VS. RENTING A VACATION HOME
There Are Many Factors to Consider
WHAT MAKES A HOME A TROPHY HOME?
Trophy Homes Are the Crème de la Crème
REAL ESTATE TERMS USED IN LISTING DESCRIPTIONS
Buyers, Be Aware
THE KEYS TO SELLING LUXURY REAL ESTATE IN SANTA BARBARA
7 Tips to "Sold" in a Changing Market
SANTA BARBARA BUCKET LIST
"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams." - Oprah Winfrey
SPOTLIGHT ON: THE SANTA BARBARA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Many of my clients ask me about Santa Barbara schools. Often, about the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD), the main public school district serving Santa Barbara
SPOTLIGHT ON: EXCLUSIVE MONTECITO GATED COMMUNITIES
Montecito’s gated communities offer more than security and privacy. Residents find a sense of exclusivity and status -- making these luxury enclosed residential enclaves popular among the well-know and well-heeled. Plus, owning one is a wise investment especially when you consider that homes in gated communities often sell for a premium.
SANTA BARBARA REAL ESTATE MARKET REVIEW: MAY 2022
When it comes to home values, the May 2022 Santa Barbara real estate review indicates the region has enjoyed a historic run over the course of the last decade.
SANTA BARBARA REAL ESTATE MARKET REVIEW: MARCH 2022
We’re seeing more pressure on pricing in the Santa Barbara real estate market as we enter the second quarter of 2022. Due to that pressure, home prices are up across the board in our little slice of heaven, while inventory is still down.
SANTA BARBARA REAL ESTATE MARKET REVIEW: APRIL 2022
The word “unprecedented” has become ubiquitous when describing the real estate market in Santa Barbara and across the nation as buyers continue to buy and sellers continue to sell. The market is not quite as frenetic as last spring and summer, but this is still an excellent time to list your home and buy that dream home you’ve always wanted.
SANTA BARBARA WATER CONSERVATION: 7 WAYS HOMEOWNERS CAN HELP
As the California drought continues, WaterWise in Santa Barbara County has stepped up its efforts to promote Santa Barbara water conservation and awareness. That’s good news since Santa Barbara County has been one of 50 counties in the Golden State in a drought emergency since July 8, 2021.
THE LAWS: CALIFORNIA REAL ESTATE DISCLOSURES
Even in our current HOT real estate market, every California home seller, including my clients who contracted me to sell their Breathtaking Ocean View Montecito Retreat pictured above, must familiarize themselves with California real estate disclosures laws.
ENNISBROOK: LUXURIOUS HOMES AND NOTEWORTHY PROVENANCE
In 1845, 356 acres of vacant land in the hills a few miles northeast of the Santa Barbara Presidio, dotted with native oaks and not much else, were granted to Nemecio Dominguez, a prominent Presidio soldier.
Local Spotlight: Historic Ocean View Ranch
The new owners of Dos Pueblos, Santa Barbara County’s historic ocean view ranch, have big plans for the future that include restoration, education and research. The property, which was on the market for many years listed at $40 million, was finally picked up by the family of Roger Himovitz from the Schulte family who owned the property since 1977.
Montecito Real Estate: A Look Back at the 2021 Market
As we welcome the new year, it seems like everyone’s asking the same question: what’s going to happen next with the Montecito real estate market? And for good reason.
Ojai California: A Magical Mecca of Wellness and Wonder
As real estate buyers continue their search for the perfect home or home away from home, I’ve added a new hamlet to my portfolio of distinctive Santa Barbara area communities.
Vacation Homes: Competition, Cash and Considerations
Today’s homebuyers are still in love with vacation homes. So much so that demand for vacation homes in the U.S. rose by 70% in October of 2021. And it looks like this trend will continue; solidified by work-from-home policies, preferences, and a desire to beat an expected interest-rate hike.
Buying a Second Home? Or a Third? You’re Not Alone.
More Americans are buying a second home (or a third) these days, and they’re shopping in locations like Montecito. There are many reasons behind the trend that’s become more and more popular since the global Pandemic outbreak.
The Art of Selling a Luxury Home: Secrets of A Top Realtor
If you’re considering selling a luxury home, keep in mind that sales are soaring. In fact, multi-million-dollar home sales surged by 88.2% year over year in the second quarter of 2021.
Moving Tips: A Top Realtor’s Moving Checklist
The process of moving into a new home requires careful planning. To help out, I’ve put together this moving checklist with the top 8 moving tips I’ve come to recommend before and after my clients move into their new abodes.
The Santa Barbara Real Estate Market Continues to Skyrocket
The Santa Barbara real estate market is continuing to surge, with prices soaring, even as more inventory hits the MLS. In May of 2021, Santa Barbara home sales shot up 61.3% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $1.8M.
Attention Vacation Rental Owners (and Potential Owners)!
In the words of David Bowie and Mick Jagger, “the summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets!” That sentiment couldn’t be truer right now for vacation rental owners in Santa Barbara and Montecito.
A Luxury Realtor’s Homebuyer Guide to Property Easements
This comprehensive home buyer guide to property easements offers a comprehensive knowledge base for buyers to refer to prior to entering into escrow.
The Smart House: More Valuable in Today’s Market?
By now, every homeowner should know about the importance of integrating smart house technology into their abode. After all, it’s technology that can make life easier and add value when the time comes to sell.
Tips on Buying a Home During the Holidays
Most people cringe at the thought of buying a home during the holidays. Only the Grinch would want to pack up and move during the holiday season, right? Wrong.
Santa Barbara Landscape Design: Complementing Your Home’s Architecture
From Spanish Colonial Revival homes and Victorian and Craftsman beauties, to mid-century modern and contemporary residences, Santa Barbara’s distinctive architecture is greatly enhanced by complementary landscape design.
Buying a Santa Barbara Home During a Pandemic
As I stated in a previous blog post, the residential real estate luxury segment is leading the way in our economic recovery from COVID-19, especially here in Santa Barbara.
7 Tips for Creating Your Own Safe Haven
What makes a happy home? A safe haven offering sanctuary from the storm, so to speak. It’s one that brings a smile to your face and a feeling of security even when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
Preparing Your Santa Barbara Home For Sale
A few minor touch-ups can go a long way toward making a favorable impression on potential buyers — and perhaps cinching a deal.
Selling a Montecito Home: A Few Things to Consider
If selling a Montecito home is at the top of your to-do list, then this blog is for you. Selling your home is hard. And emotional.
Montecito: Best Place to Live in the Santa Barbara Area
Those of us who call Montecito home know it is one of the best places to live in California, the nation and maybe even the world.
Santa Barbara and Montecito Landscape Design
An architectural style is a specific way a building was designed that is characterized by unique and notable qualities. Santa Barbara and Montecito landscape design styles include elements like form, method of construction, materials, and regional character.
The Richness of Santa Barbara History
The founders of the City of Santa Barbara were among the first in the nation to realize the cultural and economic value of preserving historic buildings.
Santa Barbara Housing Market: Home Prices in the Shadow of COVID-19
It seems like everyone is wondering how COVID-19 is affecting the U.S. housing market these days. Even with the widespread shelter-at-home orders and extreme unemployment numbers, a new report from real estate strategists UBS Wealth Management Americas, predicts U.S. home prices are likely to hold steady in 2020.
Moving During the Pandemic: 7 Steps to Doing it Safely
Are you considering moving during the pandemic? In a recent blog, I shared my expertise about the Santa Barbara and Montecito housing market in the slowdown of COVID-19.
The Santa Barbara Luxury Real Estate Market is Booming
A limited supply of available properties along the South Coast of Santa Barbara County are keeping home values higher than one might expect in the time of COVID-19.
Housing Market Forecast: Predictions for 2021
There’s a lot to be optimistic about when it comes to the 2021 housing market forecast and predictions from the experts. Home sales, new construction and homeownership are expected to climb to record highs as mortgage rates remain historically low.
Moving to a New Home: 6 Considerations for Families
Moving to a new home can be a fun and exciting time for a family. Whether you’re moving with children or aging parents, there are some important things to consider before you begin your search.
The Sweet Spot for Luxury Homebuyers: Not Too Big, Not Too Small
As affluent Americans reconsider their priorities amid the pressures of COVID-19, a sweet spot has emerged for luxury homebuyers.
The Home Inspection: What Every Buyer Needs to Know
For most buyers, a home inspection can be both reassuring and exhausting. It is possibly the first chance a buyer has to go inside the home after they have made an offer.
How to Declutter Your Home: Tips From a Luxury Realtor
Decluttering your home is not a new concept, but how to declutter your home requires some careful thought and a bit of expertise. And a decluttered home isn’t simply good for avoiding embarrassment when guests arrive; its health benefits have become increasingly recognized.
The 2021 Santa Barbara Real Estate Market : A Top Realtor’s View
The 2021 Santa Barbara real estate market continues, with experts seeing a major post-pandemic rebound. Steady mortgage rates and job recoveries, combined with the law of supply and demand are working together to make home sales surge.
Real Estate Investing: Still the Best Choice Anyone Can Make
Over the last two centuries, about 90% of the world’s millionaires have created their wealth through real estate investing. That statistic was first cited by Billionaire Andrew Carnegie.
The Santa Barbara School District
Many of my customers ask me about the Santa Barbara School District, the main public school district that serves Santa Barbara and Goleta. I am happy to answer that the Santa Barbara’s public school district is highly rated; with 15,453 students in grades K-12 and a student-teacher ratio of 24 to 1.
Montecito Estates: Calling New Owners to Paradise
Affluent buyers insist there’s something exceedingly special about Montecito estates. Perhaps it’s their location in this rarified enclave of just under 10,000 mostly affluent residents; neighboring world-renowned Santa Barbara, known as “The American Riviera.”
Is Information on Real Estate TV Shows Believable?
The HGTV effect in the real estate industry is real, but don’t kid yourself into believing all of what you see and hear on your favorite real estate TV shows is necessarily valid.
Buying a Home in a Buyer’s Market
As a follow-up to a recent blog post, I’m going to look at how buying a home in a buyer's market affects the high-end market, including the luxury home market right here in Santa Barbara and Montecito. It turns out there is a limit to how high home prices can go, even in some of America's most alluring, if overheated, places.
Santa Barbara: Oasis of Arts and Culture
You may not consider the arts and culture when you think about Santa Barbara, but the area's location, climate, and topography are definitely good for the creative soul.
Vietnam’s Economy Boom Means More Luxury Homebuyers in the U.S.
Once known as one of the poorest countries in the world, the boom in Vietnam’s economy is changing that reputation. In the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year alone, the country recorded 7.1% economic growth, making it one of the best performers globally today.
Passive Income: 10 Ideas for Building Wealth While Sitting on the Beach
Are you interested in creating passive income while sitting on the beach in sunny Santa Barbara? There are several ways to make your money work for you. In order to get there, you have to focus on one of four options: time, money, work, or all three.
9 Hidden Costs of Buying a Home
Are you aware of the hidden costs related to buying a house? For the unsuspecting homebuyer -- moving to a new home like the Singular Ocean View Montecito Home pictured on this blog -- these hidden costs can be truly frightening.
What is an iBuyer in Real Estate?
“Instant offer” or iBuyer programs are grabbing so much attention these days in the real estate industry. The attraction of these programs for home sellers is convenience. iBuyer sales move quickly because they utilize a simpler process.
Downsizing Your Home: 5 Signs It Might Be Time
Is it time for downsizing your home? I recently posted a guest blog, “Downsizing for Seniors,” explaining how to make it as stress-free as possible. But when I thought about the topic, I realized that downsizing is not reserved for seniors only.
Is Buying a Home Together Before Getting Married a Good Idea?
In a previous blog, I shared info about a prenuptial deed when buying a home together after you’ve tied the knot. But what if you and your partner decide to buy a home together before you get married?
Top 4 “Real Estate Facts” Debunked
We’ve all heard them, and everyone assumes these nuggets of wisdom are true, but should we rely on what are often considered real estate facts? Experts say absolutely not.
Selling a Haunted House?
In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d take a look at the challenges of selling a haunted house. Would you buy one? In the real estate game, haunted houses have the official designation of being considered “stigmatized.”
CELEBRITY LIVING IN SANTA BARBARA
The American Riviera Has Been a Sanctuary for the Well-known and Well-heeled for Over a Century
- Buying (61)
- Celebrity Homes (8)
- Financial Matters (13)
- Home Design (19)
- Home Maintenance (9)
- Home Technology (11)
- Home Values (5)
- Housing Market (16)
- Interior Design (31)
- Just for Fun (45)
- Lifestyle (59)
- Local Happenings (60)
- Moving (7)
- Outside (17)
- Practical Advice (39)
- Real Estate Law (4)
- Realtor Tips (19)
- Remodeling (4)
- Selling (69)
“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”
“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”
“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”
“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”
“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”
“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”
“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”
- S.N. Decker Ph.D.
“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”
- Johan and Paula van den Berg
“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”
- John and Lacey Williams
“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”
- Michael & Nancy Lee
“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”
- Richard and Catherine Frinier
“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”
- Laurie Siegel
“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”
- Ken Saffir
“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”
- Michael & Susan Marquart
“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”
- Rob & Judi Kelch