Cristal's Blog


February 9, 2023

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While the term trophy real estate is subjective, it generally defines the very best properties available on the market. And while there are many stunning homes for sale in Santa Barbara, only an elite selection of them can claim the ultimate status of a trophy home. Trophy real estate is characterized by its scale, beauty, impressive architecture, and location. These ultra-lux homes rank in the top 2.5% in value, demand, location, or other high-quality attributes that increase market value.

The grounds of a large trophy home in Montecito, with the home in the background, framed by the Santa Ynez mountains and lush green grass in the foreground

World-Class Ocean View Montecito Estate—a Trophy Home in Montecito

Trophy homes may differ in architectural style, interior design, location, and price tag, but what exactly is it that elevates a jaw-dropping property from high-end luxury to that next level? Unique in location, build, or other features, trophy homes are attractive to high-net-worth individuals seeking out the best of the best. My World-Class Ocean View Montecito Estate pictured throughout this blog post is a perfect example.

To receive the trophy designation, homes must include at least one or more of these 7 factors:

1) Grand Scale
Trophy homes usually offer a breathtaking sense of grandeur rarely seen in residential properties. In the case of my spectacular 5-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom estate, the grand scale begins on the outside. The 11,000-square-foot primary residence is perched on more than 2.4 stunning acres, showcasing a breathtaking panorama view of the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands, and Santa Barbara Coastal Plain. The home's long, gated driveway leads to a large motor court, complemented by meticulously manicured French-inspired landscaping. Once inside this world-class California residence, exquisite designer touches add to the home’s ambiance of relaxed luxury.

    A dramatic infinity-edge pool and spa overlooking the ocean at sunset

    2) Unique Location
    Whether it’s surrounded by mesmerizing views, like the Ocean View listing pictured above, or the penthouse at the top of a luxury building, chances are the location is truly one of a kind. Properties in upscale places like Montecito or Hope Ranch have a good chance of trophy home status.

    3) Delivers a Lifestyle
    A trophy home will commonly be full of all the high-end amenities that affluent buyers look for to support their lifestyles. My listing featured in this post is pure luxury, with breathtaking ocean views throughout, smart home technology built in, a blissful infinity edge pool with a view terrace, an in-ground spa, a loggia, veranda, and pergola, a sports court with a separate bocce court, fire pits, walking paths, and hiking trails all surrounded by expanses of emerald lawn, vegetable and flower gardens, and ocean vistas from multiple terraces and balconies.

      Living room of a luxury home, with a fireplace, floor to ceiling curved and multi-pane window, and luxury furniture

      4) Scarcity
      Part of the appeal of owning a trophy property is its scarcity, just like diamonds or valuable artwork. In fact, scarcity is a hallmark of trophy real estate, meaning the opportunity to own it doesn't come around very often. And in the case of the listing featured here, this is the first time this extremely rare and private estate has hit the market.

      5) Upscale
      In addition to scarcity, trophy real estate defines the word upscale. To qualify as a trophy, a home needs to be the best of the very best in its market, built with the finest design elements and materials imaginable. In the case of this ocean view Montecito estate, no expense was spared in the world-class remodel utilizing the finest design elements and materials, including solid oak floors throughout the main house, with Calacatta marble used for the entryway floor, all countertops and fireplaces.

      Primary bedroom of a luxurious Montecito home, with a tv above the fireplace, expansive windows looking out to a terrace and the ocean, and French doors

      6) Rare and Valuable
      The majority of buyers will not be able to afford trophy real estate. And in theory, when it comes time to move, trophy homeowners can sell their property at a premium. For that reason, trophy real estate can be a good investment, especially for those with considerable wealth.

      A bird's eye view of a trophy home in Montecito featuring the red tiled roof, surrounding lush foliage, and the ocean on the horizon

      7) Historical Significance
      An exciting story behind the property gives it an exceptional quality that cannot be recreated and adds to the appeal. The French and Mediterranean bones of this Montecito listing are complemented by a red tiled roof and white stucco exterior, bringing the rich cultural background of Santa Barbara to life by showcasing the traditional style of architecture that makes the aesthetic of the American Riviera.

        If you are looking for your own trophy home in Montecito or Hope Ranch, I invite you to call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at for a free consultation regarding selling and buying. Check out my portfolio of impressive estates for sale. I’m happy to arrange a private tour for you of my World-Class Ocean View Montecito Estate or any of the amazing homes for sale in the area.

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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