Cristal's Blog

Housing Market 2020: Let’s Look at the Record-Setting Year

March 6, 2021

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growth chart in 2020 with houses

If you Google “housing market 2020,” you’ll be part of a large group of inquisitors wanting to know how and why residential real estate across the country enjoyed a record-breaking year in spite of record-breaking hardship. The bottom line seems to be, staying at home due to the pandemic lockdowns caused many homeowners to seek more space, especially since they were able to work from home. Homebuyers were also attracted to the record low, dirt-cheap mortgage rates. In addition, buyers were met with a shortage of inventory, which drove demand and prices. Those things are continuing into 2021.

READ: Santa Barbara Housing Market: Home Prices in the Shadow of COVID-19

National Records Broken

The old adage states, “records are made to be broken.” One only needs to look at the housing market 2020 experienced to realize how true that statement is. 

By the end of January 2021, the total value of U.S. homes was up by a record 10%. The median price for a home was $330,500 at the beginning of this year: a 14.3% year-over-year increase from January of 2020. That marks the biggest yearly rise since at least 2013.

Sales of luxury properties, the top 5% of listings, spiked 45% during the three months ending on January 31st, compared to the same time period the previous year. More than one in 10 homebuyers are looking in the $1 million or more range today. In fact, the pandemic has done little to slow the luxury market. And luxury homeowners, those who fall in the top 5% to 15% of the market, saw a 25% year-over-year jump over the same three months the previous year.

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

The market for second homes has also skyrocketed: jumping 84% year over year in the same time period. The increase in demand for primary homes rose 36% as well. Due to the lack of inventory, buyers are finding themselves paying top dollar and/or entering into bidding wars again.

No Tours? No problem.

In addition, more and more buyers are purchasing their new homes sight unseen. About two-thirds of buyers, 63%, made an offer on a home they hadn’t seen in person in 2020; nearly double the 32% recorded in 2019. That’s the largest percentage since at least 2015.

READ: The Real Estate Closing Process in The Age of Covid

Since buyers are looking at online marketing materials, I make sure my comprehensive website offers a wide variety of information on all my exclusive listings, including photos, floor plans, and videos or virtual tours — and more. Besides real estate intel and virtual tours, buyers can find everything they need to know about local communities, and amenities such as schools, recreation options, and cultural venues.

There’s an App for That

I’ve also personally created an important tech innovation solution for my discerning clients and potential clients. In my quest to be the best, I’ve launched the Montecito Properties App designed to make buying and selling in upscale Montecito easy, even from your phone. My goal is to make finding your dream home in Montecito, or any of the upscale areas of Santa Barbara, a breeze. I hope buyers will be thrilled to have easy access to information they would otherwise have to search the web to find.

Users of my app can access property and location statistics, for example, or search for homes by everything from the type of flooring to the size of the backyard. Available on Apple for use on iPhone and iPad, and Google for Android devices, the app can be used by potential homebuyers anytime to keep up-to-date on new houses hitting the market, upcoming open houses, and recently sold homes.

READ: Luxury Home Sales: U.S. Demand for $1 Million-Plus Homes Hits All Time High

The Vigorous Housing Market 2020 Brought Was Obvious in Montecito and Santa Barbara as Well

Assisted by the abundance of sophisticated real estate professionals in California’s affluent communities such as Montecito and Santa Barbara, those local markets boomed. Personally, I enjoyed a record-breaking year with sales in excess of $260 million.

I believe the success has to do with the fact that people want to be here—and now with the flexibility of working from home, they can. They see the beauty that Montecito and Santa Barbara have to offer and they’re not thinking about “I’d love to live there in the future.” They’re really putting it into place now, be it primary homes or secondary homes.

Here are three of my amazing listings you missed:

The georgous living room of a Montecito home that sold in 2020

The Spanish Colonial Revival Beauty on the Santa Barbara Riviera pictured above offers striking mountain and ocean views from many rooms and areas of the grounds thanks to an abundance of large windows, French doors at every turn, and multiple patios and terraces. Snowy stucco walls, richly stained woods, and masterfully choreographed custom and ambient lighting create an ambiance of casual, understated luxury and sophistication.

This modern masterpiece home sold in 2020

Perhaps my Iconic Modernism by Barton Myers sale pictured here is more your taste. This incredible piece of iconic high-tech Modernism in residential architecture is both innovative in its design within that genre, and nothing short of stunning in its setting. There couldn’t be a better backdrop against the dramatic Santa Ynez Mountains for this remarkable Montecito residence. Two years in the making, this one-of-a-kind estate abides as the manifestation of extraordinary imagining.

The spectacular stairs inside this Mediterranean style Santa Barbara Rivera home

The Mediterranean-Style Santa Barbara Riviera Home is a true classic in Santa Barbara. Tucked quietly on a hillside, the new owners are undoubtedly enjoying the incredible mountain views along with the estate’s utmost privacy and tranquility. The 4 bed, 4 bath home features custom details throughout, including rich walnut floors, intricate interior ironwork, those lovely hand-painted tiles imported from Spain shown in the image. Travertine stone terraces on both the upper and lower levels, and gourmet kitchen appliances make this home the perfect place to ride out the pandemic.

Don’t worry that you didn’t get to move into any of the amazing properties featured above. But, I have many more amazing properties for sale on my comprehensive website. Please call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Together we’ll make 2021 a record-setting year in real estate.

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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