Cristal's Blog


October 12, 2022

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Buying a new home can bring out all sorts of emotions. You may feel elated and excited about starting a new life there. On the other hand, you might feel nervous, stressed and a little sad about leaving your old abode behind. All these feelings are completely normal. By avoiding homebuying mistakes, however, you’ll feel elated about the transaction.

Birds eye view of a Santa Barbara hacienda, with red tile roof, and surrounded by trees, and with the ocean in the distance

Do you like the Classic Spanish Courtyard Hacienda pictured throughout this blog post? It’s just one of the amazing homes listed on my comprehensive website. Well, I have good news to share. You could be moving in with no regret because you avoided these 10 most common homebuying mistakes:

Beautifully furnished living room of a home for sale in Santa Barbara, with an open-beam ceiling and large multi-pane picture windows
  • Assuming the Price is Negotiable
    When sellers use a reputable agent, their home is most likely priced right, using extensive local market knowledge and the latest tools available. Most agents do the research necessary to set an accurate price from the start. Despite the property being priced right, many buyers lose the first couple of properties they make an offer on because they've underbid when the home is priced to sell. Talk to your realtor about the price before over-or-underbidding.
  • Ignoring the Quality of the Home
    Most buyers go with what they feel when they determine which home to buy. Many times, that means they ignore the important details in a home. Think bones and potential instead of getting blown away by a home’s flashy details. For instance, find out if the electric is up to code. Not only could this be a fire hazard, but it could also be costly to repair. Other important considerations include the condition of the roof, the hot water tank, the HVAC system and more.

  • Making a Lowball Offer
    One big common homebuying mistake is to make an offer so low that it offends a seller—even if the offer is all cash. Cash may be king, but it doesn’t always rule when it comes to buying a home. I’ve seen potential buyers lose out on their dream home just by making a lowball offer. If the home you want is well-priced, in a good neighborhood and doesn’t need much work, the best strategy is to make a solid offer and be prepared to go over asking if necessary.
Luxurious kitchen with Saltillo-tiled floor, a beamed ceiling, and clerestory windows
  • Limiting Your Search to a Specific Style
    You may have your heart set on a white stucco, red tile roof home featuring the wrought-iron detailing of Spanish-style architecture. But there are many design styles we enjoy here. From Spanish Colonial Revival homes and Victorian, Craftsman, and Farmhouse beauties, to rustic, mid-century modern and contemporary residences, Santa Barbara County’s varied architecture is vast. The bottom line: don’t miss out on a great opportunity just because it isn’t the exact style you want.
  • Making an offer, then requesting credits
    Don’t expect to get the price down after making an offer. Luxury properties are still at a premium. What I suggest is to simply make your best offer from the beginning. It’s a common home-buying mistake to assume you can negotiate it down later.
Furnished bedroom with open-beam ceiling, and large window with view of vine-covered pergola and trees
  • Waiting until the last minute to request credits
    There’s no question that a buyer should ask for credits if an inspection reveals the need for costly repairs that were not revealed when the original offer was made. But don’t assume you can get sellers to cave in when it comes to excessive demands at the last minute.
  • Forgoing an inspection
    Sure, most people know they should get an inspection on a home they're buying. After all, a home inspection is an all-encompassing examination of the condition of a home, covering features such as electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation, as well as structural features. It may unveil issues that are not noticeable to the buyer’s eye. Even if you think you’ve found a “dream home,” it’s a home inspector’s responsibility to let you know that your “dream home” may not be as perfect as it appears to be.
  • Short-sighted thinking
    Think like a potential seller as well as a buyer. There will most likely come a time when you’ll want to sell the home you’re buying. The last thing you want is to purchase a home that’s hard to sell. My discerning buyers can rest in the knowledge that our location is one of the most sought-after coastal spots in the world. That’s why I often tell my clients to buy location, not price.
Stone-paved courtyard with fountain, flanked by vine-covered pergolas, with trees and an ocean view in the background
  • Waiting for Perfection
    The perfect home doesn’t exist. If you find a place that checks seven of the 10 boxes you're looking for, you should take it. Also, don’t become obsessed about that one listing you saw online and compare it to homes you see in person. Online listings can sometimes portray a rather idealistic picture of a home. Allow your agent to show you all your options.
  • Trying to do it yourself
    Get real: You can’t buy Santa Barbara County homes and get the best deal, competent contract creation, etc., without the expertise of a professional real estate agent. Many tech-savvy buyers think they can buy a home without assistance. This strategy can backfire big time. A knowledgeable agent knows the market better than an uninformed buyer. Just let the experts share their expertise, experience, and contacts.

Representing the highest level of clientele and specializing in the sale and acquisition of extraordinary estates and land in Santa Barbara County, I urge all buyers to start their home-buying process by finding the right agent. That way, they can easily avoid these 10 common homebuying mistakes. In Santa Barbara, that agent is me. So, give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at with any questions or concerns. And be sure to check out my extensive portfolio of listings for a sneak peek at some of the extraordinary homes on the market today.

Other Resources:

What Makes a “Luxury Home”?
Maximizing Profit When Selling a Home
Is Wellness Real Estate the Next Trillion-Dollar Trend?

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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