Cristal's Blog


January 10, 2023

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The most crucial step in buying or selling a house is finding the best real estate agent for your specific wants, needs and goals. Besides having in-depth knowledge of the housing market in your Santa Barbara community or neighborhood, a good agent will use their sales and marketing skills along with their negotiating talent to close a deal. Most important: The best Santa Barbara real estate agent is the one with the ability to represent your interests above all else.

Realtor Cristl Clarke hard at work for her clinets sitting behind a desk with a laptop and flowers on the desk that sits in front of a window with greenery outside

So, What Does a Good Real Estate Agent Do?

Buying and selling real estate for the best return on investment requires comprehensive, specific knowledge and expertise. A good agent can make the entire process seamless. For buyers, the agent will manage and expand your search while staying on top of new listings, scheduling viewings, and communicating with the sellers' agent. A good agent will help navigate the purchase contract, looking out for your best interest.

Working with the right agent gives home sellers the advantage too. Marketing a luxury home isn't just about selling its most distinctive features. It's also about creating a certain prestige that sparks desire among interested buyers. I believe high-end buyers are interested in purchasing not just a property but rather a "lifestyle residence:" one that reflects and fulfills their particular interests and quality of life.

REALTOR® vs. Real Estate Agent

There's a difference between a REALTOR and a real estate agent. Agents are licensed by the state after passing a licensing exam. Many agents, like me, are also Realtors. As members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we are bound to follow the Realtor’s Code of Ethics.

The Right Real Estate Agent is Essential

If you are currently looking to list your Santa Barbara area home, here are some words of advice based on my 30+ years in the industry:

1) Work With a Licensed Agent
Before signing with any anyone, ensure the agent’s license is up to date. You’ll need to collect the following information from the broker:

  • Name
  • Mailing address
  • City
  • License ID

2) Real Estate is Local
Your agent should be, too. It's essential to choose someone who has knowledge of the neighborhood, understands the housing market there, knows the inventory, and is familiar with the schools, services, local culture, and more.

3) A Friend or Relative May Not be the Best Choice
Ask yourself: if the home-buying process isn't going well, will I be able to fire that person? And while it's not a good idea to work directly with family and friends, asking them for referrals can be a great place to start. Even a previous agent you’ve worked with can offer valuable suggestions.

4) Look for Someone Who is Honest and Trustworthy
You want to make the best return on your investment when you sell your home, but make sure you select an agent who knows what's going on in the neighborhood and has local data to back up their suggested pricing.

    A Modern farmhouse in Santa Barbara painted red and surrounded by trees and bushes with a beautiful sky in the background.

    Winning Marketing Strategies Are a Must
    Selling luxury real estate in Santa Barbara and Montecito, like the Stunning San Ysidro Style Farmhouse pictured above, requires a detailed marketing strategy. This step is essential in our current shifting marketplace. My winning strategy is designed to elevate a high-end property's unique features in the right way to a highly qualified buyer and at the right price. As one of the top Santa Barbara real estate agents, I always use my extensive resources and connections to make every transaction as smooth and successful as possible. In addition to guaranteed placement of your Santa Barbara home in our local MLS, my listings receive the unsurpassed support and global reach of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and its "Luxury Collection" branding. That includes a comprehensive corporate marketing and advertising program that promotes my listings wherever buyers are online: in their car, on their mobile devices, on social media, or at home or work reading local publications.

    6) Community Leadership Matters
    Look beyond the performance numbers and find agents who actually invest their time and money in the community. An agent who believes in your community does more than sell homes. He or she participates in local events and charities.

    7) Work With an Agent Who Actually Closes Deals
    Check a potential realtor’s website to see their sales record, or ask prospective agents how many deals they’ve closed with homes like yours. After all, selling is what real estate is all about. Building rapport and having strong relationships is just the beginning to getting a property sold.

      If you're planning to buy or sell a property in Montecito, Hope Ranch, or any of Santa Barbara's upscale communities, and wondering how to find a top Santa Barbara real estate agent, take a shortcut. First, check out my comprehensive website. You’ll find my bio, testimonials and sold properties there. Then, give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at for a complimentary consultation.

      Other Resources:

      What Makes a “Luxury Home”?
      Maximizing Profit When Selling a Home
      Cristal Clark: The #1 Santa Barbara Realtor on Success and Giving Back

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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