Cristal's Blog


March 3, 2023

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For years, California homeowners, including those in Santa Barbara, have been living with the reality of hotter, more frequent, and more intense wildfires. In fact, the five largest blazes recorded in state history occurred since 2018, per the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. As a result, CalFire and insurance companies recommend home hardening as one of the best ways to protect homes from fires and limit the spread of wildfires in a community. And the good news is the Fire Safe Council of Santa Barbara County (SBFSC) is here to help with FREE home hardening workshops and in-home assessments.

Santa Barbara Homeowners Can Help Mitigate Fire Damage in Our Community

A wildfire in Santa Barbara with flames and smoke consuming a hillside

Homeowners interested in learning about what they can do to protect themselves and their neighborhood are encouraged to sign up now for one of the FREE educational workshops on home hardening and defensible space from the SBFSC. The workshops are taking place on Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, 10 am-1:30 pm at the Direct Relief headquarters, 6100 Wallace Becknell Rd in Santa Barbara. On Saturday only, attendees will have the option to attend in person or virtually. But either way, homeowners MUST RSVP ahead of time.

Experts from SBFSC will be there to answer your questions and help you make the decisions you need to keep your family and home safe. You’ll learn about the vulnerabilities and solutions for your home and its surrounding landscape. The goal is to educate Santa Barbara homeowners about the things they can do now to be well-prepared before the next wildfire strikes.

A firefighter shows a young boy how to use a fire extinguisher

In addition to the workshops, on Saturday, a free exposition will be open to the public that explores home hardening and defensible space concepts. Everyone is invited to the expo from 2 pm-5:30 pm, and no reservation is required. The exposition will kickoff with an important discussion about the Future of Wildfire Insurance. There will also be several informational exhibits, including an interactive home retrofit and defensible space model, a hands-on vent retrofit demonstration, a firefighter Q&A, fire extinguisher training, and more.

A firefighter shows a Santa Barbara homeowner how to protect her home with tiles

Free Home Hardening Evaluation

Besides the workshops, the local nonprofit also offers free home hardening assessments to Santa Barbara Homeowners. During an assessment, an evaluator from SBFSC will come to your home to review your defensible space, sharing home hardening principles while making specific recommendations based on your property. And since being prepared for wildfire goes beyond hardening a home and creating defensible space, the evaluator will also help prepare homeowners and their families, reviewing evacuation plans.

Evaluations can last approximately 45 minutes. Request one today! You’ll be asked to answer some preliminary questions and schedule a time.

Meantime, here’s a list of some actions homeowners can take to prepare for a wildfire:

  • Use or install fire ignition-resistant materials around your home.
  • Build or re-roof with composition, metal, clay, or tile materials. Block any spaces between the roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching.
  • Cover all vent openings with metal mesh, avoiding fiberglass or plastic that can burn.
  • Have dual-paned windows installed.
  • Install window screens to increase ember resistance and decrease radiant heat exposure.
  • Build or remodel your walls with ignition-resistant materials. Think stucco, fiber cement wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials.
  • Make sure your fireplace flue is closed, especially during fire season.
  • Weather stripping around your garage door will prevent embers from blowing in.
  • Remove vegetation or debris from your roof, vents, windows, deck, and gutters.
  • Inspect the home for dry rot, gaps, or cracks. Caulk gaps greater than 1/8-inch.
  • Create and maintain the required 100 feet of Defensible Space.
  • Cut or mow all grass down to a maximum height of four inches.
  • Finally, ensure all combustible materials are located 30 feet from your home.

Resources like the Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide: How to Harden Homes Against Wildfire give a clear, detailed overview of the fundamentals of hardening your home against wildfire. And by hardening your home, you may be entitled to save money on insurance.

Ready to harden your home against wildfires? Take advantage of these free services being provided by I SBFSC. Ready to buy or sell a home in or around Santa Barbara? Give me a call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at for a free consultation.

More resources:

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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