Cristal's Blog

The 2021 Santa Barbara Real Estate Market : A Top Realtor’s View

August 21, 2021

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Inscription 2021 and miniature houses. Real estate concept to show the 2021 Santa Barbara housing Market. Forecast from the #1 Realtor.

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. 

That’s why leading Santa Barbara Realtor Cristal Clarke has declared “productivity” as the word of the moment. Productivity as in multiple offers, no contingency offers, and a quick close of escrow—all due to a continued influx of buyers into all local market areas, including points north and south. The boom extends farther afield as well, to the Mid-West and East Coast.

Headshot of Realtor Cristal Clarke

The Award-Winning Realtor continues to represent the highest level of clientele, specializing in the sale and acquisition of extraordinary estates and land in Montecito, Santa Barbara and Hope Ranch. As the #1 producing agent in the U.S. and worldwide among 50,000+ Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agents, Cristal knows the market inside and out. That’s why buyers and sellers of the finest homes have come to count on her for all their real estate needs.

Writer Susan Hartzler sat down for a Q&A with Cristal regarding her predictions for the remainder of the year:

S. How quickly are homes selling in 2021?
C. Real Estate sales started off at a record pace in the first three months of the year and are maintaining that forward march into the second quarter with no immediate pull-back insight. Multiple offers, no contingency offers, and a quick close of escrow offers are not unusual in today’s fast-paced marketplace. Plus, there’s a continued influx of buyers who want to live on the American Rivera. What’s not to love about this piece of the world with our year-round, perfect Mediterranean weather and miles of white sandy beaches?

S. How long will this hot market continue?
That’s impossible to answer, but having never been shy in predicting future trends, I see at least two more years in the current upcycle. Why? For many years, you have heard me say that our local communities have been under-valued, so even though we have experienced increases in sales prices, we are only now coming on par with other elite communities, not only here in California, but also across the nation.

S. How has the global pandemic changed the Santa Barbara real estate market?
One thing COVID has changed is the fact that we are no longer a 2nd or 3rd home community. Santa Barbara, Montecito and our beautiful surrounding communities are now a place to set down roots as a primary residence. The influx of many more families into our communities is proof positive our fundamental owner profile has changed and continues to do so.

S. Should those folks considering it list their home now?
ASAP! Our continued record low inventory levels, low interest rates, possible tax changes in relation to capital gains tax, potential 1031 tax-deferred exchange changes, and–oh, yes--let’s not forget inflation, are all positive signs for real estate. Now is a good time to get off the fence and list your home.         

S. Will a seller be able to buy a new home?
Yes, but they’ll need to bring their “A” game. That means doing due diligence when hiring a real estate agent to work with. With more buyers than sellers, they’ll probably be up against some heavy competition, high home prices, and they might even have to gear up for a bidding war. But this too may change in the near future as many experts anticipate inventory will climb in the second half of 2021. That means balance in the market is on the horizon and less competition among buyers.

S. Do buyers need to work with an agent if the market is so hot?
Buying a home in a hot real estate market takes patience, perseverance, and knowledge. Simply put, it pays to have a trusted professional in your corner who'll alert you to listings as soon as they hit the market, if not before. Also, if you’re a buyer, a good agent will know how to make your offer stand out from the rest. For sellers, a good agent will be able to ensure optimum return on their initial investment.

S. Should sellers still stage their home and make improvements before listing?
Absolutely! And for good reason. Sellers shouldn’t cut any corners in the selling process, even in this hot market. Staging helps get the most money in a shorter timeframe. It also increases the buyer's confidence in the home, helping them feel great about their purchase and feel as though they got their money's worth.

S. What’s the average home worth in today’s market, and how quickly is it likely to sell?
. In July 2021, Santa Barbara home prices were up 8.5% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $1.5M. On average, homes in Santa Barbara sell after 34 days on the market compared to 58 days last year. There were 117 homes sold in July this year, up from 104 last year.

S. Often, the luxury and ultra-luxury real estate markets are either more or less affected by economic and/or societal disruptions. Is that true of the current state of affairs? If so, in what ways?
What is evident and is certainly visible in the Santa Barbara real estate market is that buyers are realizing urban living environments are not necessarily ones that serve one’s needs best. We are seeing and, I believe, will continue to see a shift away from urban living to those that are community-based environs such as those available here in Montecito and Santa Barbara. This is being experienced across the board, from luxury real estate to less expensive homes in all our local communities.

S. Are you still showing homes virtually via your website or other electronic venues?
Showings via online portals is still the first step in a buyer’s thought process before looking at a home in person. In addition, many sellers are offering buyers extensive online marketing materials such as photos, floor plans, and videos or virtual tours prior to actual showings. My comprehensive website offers a wide variety of information related to real estate, including intel on our various communities, and local amenities such as schools, recreation options, and cultural venues. So, I always recommend a buyer start there.

S. Have you revised your usual marketing efforts and/or methods in the last 3 months or so? For example, are you putting more emphasis on your internet presence (i.e., website, social media, ads)?
My marketing efforts continue to be top-notch in the industry. We have always, and continue to, have a strong social media and internet presence regardless of the environment. We’ve tailored our marketing to include more community informational services in social media posts, web posting information, as well as community mailings and print ads. 

S. Any predictions regarding the U.S. housing market in general, luxury and ultra-luxury markets, and/or your specific Santa Barbara real estate market for the remainder of 2021?
My prediction is that we will continue to see a surge in buyer and seller activity as the various communities across the nation get back to a sense of normalcy, including right here in California. We expect, as mentioned earlier, to continue to see a shift away from urban living environs and a move toward more community-based living. What better place to be than right here in Montecito, Santa Barbara, or any of our lovely surrounding communities? 

To date, Cristal has helped 17 buyers and 29 sellers with their real estate needs in and around Santa Barbara in 2021, for a total of more than $280 million in sales. If you’re considering buying or selling to move to a different Santa Barbara area, community or neighborhood, give Cristal a call at (805) 886-9378, or you can contact her at Cristal@Montecito-Estate. Cristal is the one to turn to for answers to all your questions regarding the Santa Barbara real estate market.



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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“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.”

- M.F.

“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!”

- P.B.

“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.”

- T.C.

“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!”

- D.R.

“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. ”

- M.A.

“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.”

- D.K.

“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