Cristal's Blog

Harry and Meghan: Montecito’s Newest High-profile Residents

August 21, 2020

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aerial view of the montecito estate of harry and meghan

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Journalists from all over the world are reaching out to me about Montecito’s newest celebrity family, popularly known as Harry and Meghan: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The couple recently purchased a $14.7M home in the star-studded enclave of Montecito. Often referred to as “Beverly Hills North,” Montecito is a beautiful sanctuary sandwiched between the rugged peaks of the Santa Ynez mountains and the sea, perfect for superstars (or former royals).

“For many years, we were a well-kept secret – so close to LA, but a million miles away in terms of lifestyle and quality of life, bound by a sense of community,” comments Cristal Clarke, a luxury property specialist at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Montecito.

This is the “American Riviera,” says Clarke – and it’s where you come for stunning beaches and world-class wineries. It’s a place for art lovers, horse riders and foodies. Low-key may be a little misleading, however, for a location dotted with palatial, multi-million-dollar estates costing up to $75M. 

Many of these hillside havens – including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s – are “Spanish Revival”, or “Old World Mediterranean” in style, with their sprawling terracotta tiled, peach-coloured main houses, sweeping lawns, fountains and olive groves reminiscent of Andalucia or Tuscany.                          

           The Telegraph

Harry and Meghan announced their decision to step down as senior royals in early January 2020. After the announcement, Harry, Meghan, and baby Archie moved to Vancouver Island, a quiet, idyllic spot off Canada's Pacific Coast. Next, they relocated into Tyler Perry's mansion in LA. And finally, they landed in the lush, intimate village of Montecito. Here's a look inside "The Chateau" from ET Canada.

The town seems a world apart from their royal digs, with quiet streets, intimate white sand beaches, and gated estates.

“The neighborhood of large homes and estates Harry and Meghan have chosen is ‘off the beaten path,’ so to speak, and is reached via charming country-like roads often intersected by private lanes.” 

“The community of Montecito itself is nature-like with its abundance of majestic, mature trees and lush public and private landscaping. Its location, nestled against the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, provides convenient access to numerous hiking trails. There are private equestrian boarding and riding facilities nearby as well, and pristine beaches are mere minutes away.                                    

 Us Weekly

Montecito shoreline at low tide.

About Montecito

Montecito is consistently ranked as one of the richest communities in Southern California with a list of famous residents reading like an issue of Forbes magazine. Among the approximately 10,000 residents residing in Montecito are numerous A-list celebrities, including Oprah WinfreyRob LoweEllen DeGeneresAriana Grande, and many more.

READ: Celebrity Living in Santa Barbara

They come here to escape the limelight and avoid the paparazzi. Plus, the overall celebrity appeal isn’t as prevalent here quite like it is in the Hollywood area, creating a quiet and peaceful community for the extremely well-to-do’s like Meghan and Harry.

"Montecito residents are accustomed to having high-profile neighbors and visitors, and many of those residents can relate first-hand to overzealous attention," Clarke explained. "In other words, you might say the new neighbors will be welcomed warmly, yet with ‘respectful congeniality.’"

The Chateau

The Sussexes new palatial mansion known as 'The Chateau' has nine bedrooms and 16 bathrooms. Built in 2003, the 14,563-square-foot home sits on 5.4 acres with manicured hedges bordering the estate's stone-pillared entry gates. According to property listings, the mansion took nearly five years to build. Inside the young family can enjoy the library, office, spa with separate dry and wet sauna, gym, complete with stripper pole, game room, arcade, theater, wine cellar and a five-car garage. There is also a two-bedroom, two-bath guest house, located on the grounds. It is reserved for Meghan's mother Doria, who is currently acting as one-year-old Archie's nanny.

One could say Harry and Meghan got a great deal on their sprawling Montecito mansion. The seller, believed to be Russian tycoon Sergey Grishin, spent more $25M for the property back in 2009. He originally listed the home for up to $34M.

Why Harry and Meghan Chose Montecito

Montecito (Spanish for little mount) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Santa Barbara County, California, located east of the City of Santa Barbara. There are many reasons the rich and famous choose to live here, not the least of which is the fact that the town is one of the safest and most family-friendly communities in the world. Montecito homes are secluded from view by tall hedges and other lush landscaping at the end of gated driveways, adding to the safety factor.

READ: Baby Checklist: 10 Things to Do to Prepare Your Home for a Newborn

Montecito is also a great environment to raise the duo’s son, Archie, because of our award-winning private and public schools. In fact, Montecito Union School District, recognized as a California Distinguished School, is one of the local public elementary schools serving children in grades Kindergarten through 6th Grades. The district, composed of a middle to upper socio-economic population, has a current enrollment of approximately 410 students – 411 when Archie enters kindergarten.

The region’s unusual south-facing coastline contributes to the balmy Mediterranean year-round weather similar to the weather you’ll find in the French Riviera, owing to its nickname: the American Riviera. The beautiful coastal landscape, combined with the close proximity to LA, low-key but high-quality lifestyle, outdoor recreation, arts and culture, and our world-class food and wine scene may also be aspects that drew Prince Harry and his family to Montecito. We also have a high concentration of philanthropists and philanthropic organizations, the perfect setting for the important work Harry and Meghan are doing.

READ: Santa Barbara Living: Testament to Why It’s a Top 100 City

But the main reason celebrities like Harry and Meghan love living in Montecito is because they feel like regular people here, community members who will not be hassled by locals or by paparazzi.

If you’re considering joining Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by buying in the 93108 zip code, or selling to move to a different Santa Barbara area community or neighborhood, give me a call at (805) 879-5000 or email me at Cristal@Montecito-Estate. I represent the highest level of clientele and specialize in the sale and acquisition of extraordinary estates and land in Montecito and all the upscale communities surrounding it.

My total sales last year were in excess of $260M, and I am on par to beat that record in 2021. So, now it’s your turn to consider one of my distinctive, celebrity-worthy homes or estates. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Harry, Meghan, and Archie as your neighbors?

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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