Cristal's Blog

3 Ways to Maximize Your Profit When Selling a Home

January 29, 2019

Back to Articles


A beautiful ocean view estate listed by Realtor Cristal Clarke in the Montecito CA enclave of Ennisbrook

I'm sure you want to maximize your profit when selling a home. Many people are tempted to consider options such as working with a discount real estate agent or entering into a sale-by-owner program, but I’m here to tell you, “No! Don’t go down either of those roads.” I know from my own extensive experience that when all is said and done, the stress and work involved can be substantial. And you might actually lose money in the end.

Think about it. You need to stay focused on your job. You don’t need to take on the added burden of becoming a real estate expert. Find someone who loves selling real estate, lives it every day and is eager to help you sell quickly for optimum return on your investment.

There are sensible ways you, as a savvy seller, can maximize your profit when selling a home. Here are 3:

  1. Closing Adjustments

    As a seller, you can be repaid at closing for several things, including any service or supplies contracts you have prepaid. All you have to do as a seller is identify each contract, create a per diem cost allocation for each one, then multiply that cost by using the days remaining on the contract at the time of the closing date.

    Here are some examples of contracts to include:
  • Propane, oil or any fuel contracts
  • Water
  • Real estate town and village taxes
  • Condominium / cooperative common / maintenance charges
  • Pool service
  • Pest control
  • Gardening

When you add up the amount you paid for all your contracts after the closing date, you can recoup as much as tens of thousands of dollars in prepayments. All you need is the documents along with the adjustments.

  1. IRC §1031

    Wondering how to avoid capital gains taxes? Ever consider exchanging your home for another? For sellers subject to California income tax, state tax law follows federal law for purposes of deferral under Section 1031. Advanced planning is key to success in any exchange, no matter what state you’re in. Sellers must pay particular attention to the timing of the sale of their relinquished property. You also have to estimate your equity and debt replacement objectives and retain an expert, qualified intermediary.

    Keep in mind, the IRS will not honor the exchange if either the 45-day identification period is missed, or your replacement property is not acquired within a 180 day exchange period. While the deferred capital gain will continue on the property acquired as a tax attribute. But, if you use section 1031, you will be able to defer the capital gains tax owed for an indefinite period of time. That means sellers can compound their real estate purchasing power by including the unpaid tax into their available purchasing monies for their next transaction. (Make sure you talk to your accountant or tax attorney before you put IRC §1031 into action.)
  1. Mortgage Interest/Real Estate Tax Deductions

    As all wealthy individuals know, it takes proper planning to make money while limiting the taxable amount. That means savvy home sellers look for legal ways to take deductions from their taxable gross income. Again, make sure you work with your accountant or tax attorney and follow the new tax laws. As I understand it, however, most homeowners can still deduct all of their mortgage interest, which is one of the most popular and lucrative tax breaks for wealthy individuals.

    Since 2018, mortgage interest on the total principal of as much as $750,000 in qualified residence loans can be deducted. That amount is down from the previous principal limit of $1,000,000. If you’re married and filing separate returns, the new principal limit is $375,000. That amount is down from $500,000. It's worth pointing out that this limit only applies to new loans originated after 2017. Preexisting mortgage loans are grandfathered into the old limits. For those who want to deduct their home equity interest, they can if the loan was used to improve the taxpayer's home. Otherwise, the amount is no longer deductible.

Tax reform promised to make preparing tax returns simpler, even for those who are selling a property. If that’s you and you’re looking to sell in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, please call at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at

Read: Cristal Clarke: The Expert in the Montecito Real Estate Market!

NOTE: My listing featured in the photo at the top of this blog post, an impressive Ocean & Mountain View Ennisbrook Estate, is a classic example of Modern Mediterranean design. Anyone would be happy to live in the safe, gated, private community of Ennisbrook. The entire community is blessed with extraordinary landscaping, privacy, open spaces and a connection with nature.  Over 50 acres in the community have been set aside as open space. Interested? Let’s talk.


Back to Articles

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