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Buying a Second Home? Or a Third? You’re Not Alone.

October 21, 2021

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THE RISE OF HYBRID LIVING

The living room of a luxury condo for sale with windows overlooking the ocean

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 Coronavirus upended global housing markets with homeowners rethinking where to live: realizing they no longer had to or wanted to squeeze into the chaos of urban living when they could enjoy additional or alternative space in places like the American Rivera.

About 19% of respondents of a global buyer survey said they moved since the start of the pandemic, while 33% said they were more likely to buy a second home because of the pandemic. That number is up from 26% the prior year.

What is Hybrid Living?

Hybrid Living is the evolving blend of in-person and remote experiences that each individual, family, household, and workplace is adapting in response to our changing world. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all been forced to address unexpected challenges that have accelerated personal, and workplace shifts to virtual methodologies. While many have been forced to live with unexpected, unwanted, or unimaginable changes, we’ve found many new ways to create and adapt. One of those ways is to own two or three homes in different environments.

In fact, today’s second and third home purchases are one of the driving forces behind the ongoing housing boom here in the United States. In fact, demand for second and third homes is growing twice as fast as it is for sales of primary residences. And the majority are being snatched up in the hottest counties in the U.S. Destination resort communities like the upscale enclaves of Montecito and Santa Barbara.

Codos ar an excellent choice for a second home because many are gated like this image of a gated community

Embracing the Condo Lifestyle

The condo lifestyle makes a perfect choice when it comes to buying a second home. They usually come with unbeatable amenities and tend to be located mere minutes from local attractions. With the ocean view condo pictured above, the new owners will also have peace of mind knowing their property is located inside a gated community. While there, they’ll be able to enjoy the peace and quiet of resort-style living without traveling too far from our beautiful beaches and local action.


Take my Elegant Eucalyptus Hill Ocean View Condo listing, pictured above. Sold earlier this year in record time, this condo is the perfect example of what people are looking for in second and third homes. Showcasing sensational ocean, coastline, and mountain views from nearly every room, the upscale home’s location in an enclave that offers everything one could want in a second home, made the sale happen quickly. Homebuyers are looking for the security and conveniences this home offered: like a tranquil pool, spa, and guest parking.

READ: Santa Barbara Housing Market: Home Prices in the Shadow of COVID-19

Living room with beach view out window

Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle

But homebuyers are not just looking for condos to purchase. They want wide-open spaces that offer a healthy lifestyle; the opposite of what they find in urban living.

Here’s another example: my Charming Oceanfront Cottage Near Montecito pictured above. Many individuals are looking for homes that promote a healthy lifestyle. One healthy lifestyle trend that actually began right here in Santa Barbara is the quintessential indoor/outdoor living. This property has that and more; hitting all the buttons buyers are looking for today, from breathtaking views of the Pacific, to lush landscaping and delightful interior details. Plus, it’s located convenient to the great shops, dining other distinctive amenities that Summerland, Carpinteria, Montecito and Santa Barbara have to offer, such as the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel, hiking trails and more.

READ: 20 Things to Love About Santa Barbara

Leaving Urban Dwelling For Greener Pastures

Earlier reporting that people were fleeing urban locales and heading for places like Montecito is not quite as accurate as first believed. The perception that the pandemic ushered in a mass migration is not supported by the data. According to figures from two national moving companies, Americans moved less during the pandemic than they normally would have, not more. What seemed to be driving sales in the real estate market was second or third home purchases. And it still is.

Hybrid Work Revolution

Then there’s the hybrid work revolution that’s transforming the U.S. economy; an outgrowth of the pandemic. No longer do workers feel a gravitational pull to city centers. Today, 43% of Americans work remotely at least some of the time. New forces are now reshaping knowledge-based economies. That has created a great demand for real estate in beautiful areas like Montecito and Hope Ranch.

Simply put, Americans spent more time on leisure and household activities in 2020; replacing commuter life with real life. The newfound freedom to work from home will inevitably affect where people decide to live. And most do not want to go back to the way it used to be. I don’t blame them.

READ: The Backyard Shed: Your New Home Office?

Low Interest Rates Combined With Pandemic-Era Savings

Besides our continued low interest rates on home loans, buyers are using their pandemic-era savings for second and third home investments. Over the past 12 months, personal savings have reached historic levels. The U.S. savings rate is now at 35%. That’s a huge increase when you consider that it was 2.5% before the financial crisis, only to rise to 8% at the start of the pandemic.

Those savings have made it more feasible for people, not just the ultra-rich, to live a dual lifestyle. That fundamental change in where and how people live is infusing second home markets, once reliant on weekenders and seasonal visitors.

Owning a Second or Third Home Can Be a Great Investment

One of the most common reasons for buying additional real estate is having a place that allows your family to gather and create memories. A central place for holiday gatherings or less formal get-togethers can really reinvigorate family bonds. A second home can also be a great place to retire when the time comes. Look at it as a fantastic investment opportunity, particularly if you choose a region like Santa Barbara, with a robust housing market.

How might you profit from buying a second home? Well, you can reap the rewards of the appreciation of your home’s value over time. Should you choose to put it on the market in the future, you may be able to profit on your initial investment. Speaking of profit, you can rent out the home when your family isn’t occupying it, thus bringing in a steady source of extra income. Ask your CPA if you could also benefit from the tax write-offs that come from the ownership of a second property.

4 Things to Consider When Looking for Your Second or Third Home

If you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a second home, now is the perfect time to do it. Whether you’re dreaming of paradise or profit, follow these four steps to a smart investment:

1) Scout the market

Join the millions of people searching the web for a second or third home sweet home. Realtor.com shattered its traffic records this past June, and Zillow’s traffic for sale listings is up 41% since 2019. Existing home sales continue to hit all-time highs, meaning more people are buying houses right now. The fact that many listings include a video tour, 3D tour, or both helps homebuyers make a decision prior to taking an actual tour. A video walkthrough is crucial as we continue to practice social distancing, and experts say the trend is here to stay.

Once you have a good idea about the market, take the next step to start the search for a second residence and find a real estate agent to work with. In Santa Barbara and Montecito, that agent is me. If you’re searching for a second home outside the Santa Barbara area, be sure to take note of the agent’s track record, because this can tip you off to superstar agents. By checking their testimonials, you can figure out whether they’re a fit for your needs.

READ: Ocean View Homes are Good for Our Health

So, if you’re searching for a second or third home in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, I’m here to help. As a resident myself, I can help you evaluate the location and amenities of a property and provide information about comparable sales.

And, with more than 25 years in the industry and an eye for the long-term value of the property. I’ll also fill you in on historical prices and how comparable sales have fared, as well as resale prospects.

READ: The Santa Barbara Luxury Real Estate Market is Booming

2) Gauge your return

Second-home buyers nowadays are more geared to enjoying their property rather than flipping it for a quick return on investment.

Still, you should consider that you will be away from the property much of the time and factor in additional maintenance costs, such as having a management company check for water leaks or frozen pipes.

3) Insurance considerations

Getting insurance for a second home may be more challenging than for a primary residence, depending on location. Typically, your second home is located farther away, and insurance companies might be concerned the home will not be properly maintained.

Having a separate policy specifically for your second home is usually a smart move. Your vacation home or second home will likely have some insurance hazards your main residence doesn’t. By creating a separate policy for this dwelling, you can tailor coverage options that make sense for your unique circumstances.

READ: Considering Buying a Vacation Home? Read This First!

4) Learn the tax ins and outs

Savvy tax planning can make a difference in your return on a second home. Tax implications for second homes can vary significantly based on your financial situation and whether or not you plan to rent out the property.

Keep these points in mind when figuring the impact on your taxes:

  • Consider property taxes, utilities, homeowners association fees and other applicable expenses.
  • Generally, the interest on the mortgage of your second home is tax-deductible, and rental properties are subject to additional tax breaks. The deductions of a rental property come in an array of possibilities, including depreciation of the real estate itself and a separate, accelerated depreciation of personal property such as furnishings. Owners only have to use the property two weeks a year to get certain tax benefits on rentals.

Once again, I urge you to check with your CPA or tax attorney. If you’re interested in buying a second (or third) home in any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, I hope you’ll consider working with me. Just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com.




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Client Reviews

“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