Cristal's Blog

Buying or Leasing a Santa Barbara Home: A Guide for the Perplexed

July 20, 2021

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Living room of a Santa Barbara home that's for lease

As the 2021 Santa Barbara real estate market enters its second half, I find a few people are pondering the question, “Should I buy a home this year or should I look into long-term leasing opportunities?” With my substantial experience in the industry, that question doesn’t surprise me. In fact, although buying a home is nearly always a great investment, for some folks, leasing a Santa Barbara home can be something to at least consider.

The good news if you are considering leasing in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, there are amazing properties available right now. In fact, I have some incredible leases ready for you to choose from, including the Charming Oceanfront Cottage Near Montecito pictured above.

This 3 bedroom, 3 bath home is truly a rare find. Besides being within walking distance to the beach, this lovely cottage features breathtaking views of the Pacific, lush landscaping, delightful interior details and an expansive outdoor living space. What more could you need in a leased property?

The deck of a home for lease with a beautiful view of the ocean

The Leasing Market in 2021

The dream of having one’s own home, building equity, and enjoying stability is always an excellent plan. You just have to determine if now is the time to jump. To find the best answer to that question, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • How long do I plan on living in the home?
    Making the decision to buy or lease comes down to one main question: timing. By timing, I’m talking about how long you plan to live in the property. Carrying debt is a risk, while a 12-month lease gives you time to find the perfect home before you take on that risk.

READ: Buying a Second Home? You Are Not Alone.

  • What are all the costs involved?
    If you lease a home, you won’t be building home equity or be able to take advantage of a homeowner’s tax break. You also won’t be hit by capital gains when you decide to sell. Plus, if anything goes wrong in the house, the owner will have to take care of it, leaving you without the headache of home maintenance.

READ: Attention Vacation Rental Owners (and Potential Owners)!

  • Does leasing a Santa Barabara home mean you’re throwing money away?
    Not necessarily. It is true, you’ll likely come out ahead financially if you own your home for at least five years. On the flip side, if you plan on staying for only a year or two, leasing could be a more fiscally responsible choice.
A luxurious bedroom with a fireplace and amazing ocean views.

Just imagine, if you leased my Ocean Front Cottage pictured above, you could be sleeping to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves while you and I search for that perfect home sweet home for you to buy in the area. Designed with the ultimate indoor/outdoor lifestyle in mind, the home’s expansive outdoor living spaces combined with a wealth of windows and doors that overlook the ocean make this property a true sanctuary.

READ: Ocean View Homes are Good for Our Health

Buy vs Lease Cost Calculator

To get a better view of your leasing vs buying decision, try out these free calculators:

I’m certain you’ll make the best decision of whether to lease or buy, and no matter what you choose, if you’re planning to live in Montecito or any of the surrounding upscale communities, I’m your agent. My discerning clients know they can count on me to find the perfect lease, or get their property leased out, as well as assist them in buying and selling their real estate assets. Contact me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at and let me do the rest!

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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