Cristal's Blog

Buying a Home in a Buyer’s Market

June 4, 2019

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real estate broker manager giving house key to customer after signing contract for buying house in estate agent office, investment, home loan contract, selling your home, realtor and real estate concept

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.

Luxury Real Estate Trends

Generally, although buyers have a better chance of negotiating a lower price when there is less competition, sellers still expect a buyer to make a reasonable offer. That info is especially important for today’s luxury real estate listings that have been showing signs of slowing across North America and abroad. That’s right, sales are down, and inventory is up, especially when it comes to high-end real estate. The bad news for buyers: experts conclude that many high-end sellers are willing to wait until conditions improve, instead of lowering their price. That’s why gathering data and understanding a seller’s motivation is vitally important when buying a home in a buyer's market.

One of the main reasons for this trend in the U.S. has to do with changes in our tax code that went into effect last year, particularly in states with high-income taxes. The tax reform makes it impossible for buyers to deduct a large chunk of their mortgages. Cities like our neighbor Los Angeles along with New York, Chicago, and San Francisco have been particularly affected. States with no or low personal tax are not experiencing the same decline.

But America is not alone in the move toward a buyers’ market. After years of fast-paced luxury real estate markets, buyers are now gaining the upper hand in many parts of the world. In Vancouver, tax changes have had a significant impact. A 15% tax on real estate purchases by foreigners, passed in 2016, has led to a cooling of overall sales. And in London, Brexit-induced uncertainty has exacerbated a slump in high-end home sales.

Negotiating 411

All this means more room for negotiating when buying a home in a buyer's market. The question is how far a home buyer can go in their haggling, and where the bottom stands for prices. The answer isn’t always clear. That's why agents like me recommend our clients do research before making an offer, like finding out how long a property has been on the market. But they should not stop there. It is also important to understand the economic factors driving markets, including statistics about the neighborhood. To present an offer correctly, buyers must work with agents who have a strong grasp of the data around sales, inventory, and days on market for comparable homes in the area. 

Timing is Everything

When it comes to timing, the first week a home is on the market does not give a buyer very much room to negotiate. Homes that have been listed for longer than a week, a month or more have more room to negotiate. That doesn’t mean buyers should delay, though, when it comes to making an offer on a property, they’re interested in.

However, real estate experts say, buyers should not expect deep discounts everywhere and must be thoughtful in their negotiations. I’ve seen clients lose the home of their dreams by waiting until the price drops.

Read: Cristal Clarke: The Expert in the Montecito Real Estate Market!

All this points to the importance of having an experienced, competent agent on your side. When markets are volatile like they are now, buyers need to look for professionals who can advise them based on previous sales and current inventory. Also, the agent should have the experience necessary in negotiations for ultra-luxury properties. A reputable Realtor should be able to give you the data you need to make an educated offer, which is especially important for buyers who have their heart set on a specific property. The data that informs an offer should include a number of variables—such as recent sales of comparable homes, a property’s location, lot size, and neighborhood, and current market supply—as well as understanding the seller’s point of view.

map that shows areas in the US where home prices have fallen the most

Some experts say the slowdown we’re experiencing in the luxury sales market does not necessarily promise a buyers’ market. The city of San Jose, for instance, is seeing steep declines in home prices. reports that home prices nationally still rose 6.9% year over year in April. But here's the thing: That's actually the lowest price growth in five years. And according to the latest data, 1 in 5 metropolitan areas is now seeing decreases in home prices, compared with half as many a year ago.

The one thing all experts agree on is this doesn’t mean heavy discounts for buyers. Rather, the change represents a normalization after prices skyrocketed at an unsustainable rate. So,  folks buying a home in a buyer's market should not wait for the market to reach the ideal point. The exact moment the market changes from sellers to buyers is impossible to identify until it is gone.

We are blessed here in Santa Barbara and Montecito with an excellent, functioning real estate market, although we have been experiencing a shortage of inventory. Still, the luxury market here is very active with a number of properties selling for top dollar. 

Whether you are a buying a home in a buyer's market, or a seller, don’t wait to make your move. Just work with me and get the results you deserve. Buyers, check out my listings, then call me at +1-(805) 886-9378 or shoot me an email at Sellers, I have the knowledge, contacts, and data you need when buying in a home buyer’s 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