Cristal's Blog

Preparing Your Santa Barbara Home For Sale

July 7, 2020

Back to Articles


Birds eye view of a Spanish Colonial Revival Beauty on the Santa Barbara Riviera that is for sale

A few minor touch-ups can go a long way toward making a favorable impression on potential buyers — and perhaps cinching a deal. By taking some simple steps, like the owner of the Spanish Colonial Revival Beauty on the Santa Barbara Riviera pictured above did, you can minimize negotiations over requests for buyer credits and potential legal actions, too. So, when you list your Santa Barbara home for sale, keep these simple tips in mind:

1. Clean and Declutter
Make sure to dust everywhere, including on top of the fireplace mantle and other hidden spots. Polish your appliances and faucets and give the windows a thorough washing. Also, banish that pile of shoes from the entryway, that stack of mail from the kitchen table, and anything else that detracts from your home’s gorgeous features. Buyers want to be able to envision themselves in your home, so remove anything overly personal, like family photos or your kids’ artwork. You’ll also want to organize your closets and drawers. You want buyers to focus on how awesome your space is, not how messy it looks. Consider hiring a cleaning service to stop by on a regular basis, keeping your home as clean and pristine as possible while it’s on the market. If you don’t have one, check out the top ten cleaning services in Santa Barbara on Yelp.

READ: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: It’s All About Choosing Joy

2. If it isn’t working, fix it

All those little things you’ve been meaning to fix but never got around to need to be taken care of before you list your home. Buyers will notice them – all of them - and those partially completed projects or broken-down places will detract from the value of your home. So, set aside a weekend or finally hire that handyman to tighten those loose doorknobs, fix that leaky faucet and paint over any scuffs from when you moved your sofa. Need some help? Here’s a list of the area’s 10 best handymen from Yelp.

An instagram worthy kitchen in a home for sale in Santa Barbara

3. Consider the Scent

Pay attention to the science of smell. Bad smells that could deter buyers include cooked food, home appliances, clothing and shoes, pets, smoke, and mold. Believe it or not, even dusty air vents can ruin a sale. But, keep in mind, there’s a difference between clean smells and deodorized ones and you want to go for the clean. Pulling out scented candles and plug-ins or preparing baked cookies may smell nice to some, but others might find them appalling or may believe the homeowner is trying to mask something. Simply put, the scent could distract the buyer’s ability to make a decision. Here are some suggestions that will sniff out a buyer for your Santa Barbara home for sale quickly, and for top dollar:

  • Citrus
    Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges smell clean and fresh. And a bowl of lemons just looks clean, doesn’t it?
  • Herbs
    Scented herbs can bring a refreshing, familiar smell to the nose. Home sellers might consider instilling rosemary, thyme, or basil in the kitchen to create a warm and welcoming feeling for buyers.
  • Vanilla
    There is something about vanilla that makes any room feel cozy. Experts say it reminds people of comfort foods that have vanilla in them and therefore drums up the feelings of comfort.
  • Green Tea
    This crisp scent refreshes your mind with a lively aroma of green tea which can help restore harmony.
The den in this home for sale with a strategically open door to let natural light in

4. Let the Light Shine
It’s easy to create a bright cheery space in Santa Barbara homes. All you have to do is strategically open doors, like the many in the Spanish Colonial Revival Beauty pictured above. You should also open all your windows to let in natural light. And don’t forget to check your light bulbs. If a light bulb isn’t working, change it. That way a potential buyer won’t wonder if there is a potential problem with the home’s electrical system. The buyer doesn't know if the problem is with the bulb, the fixture, or the wall socket. So, don't give them the option to even think about it. The same rule applies to your lights in attics and crawl spaces. And speaking of attics and crawl spaces, make sure they’re free of clutter and easily accessible.

This staged living room allows potenital buyers to see themselves living in the American Riviera

5. Stage for Success
According to The National Association of REALTORS®, staging a home is a major plus when selling your property. America's largest trade association reports that last year alone, 83% of buyers’ agents said that staging made it easier for their clients to visualize the property as their future home, and 44% said that staging a home actually increased the dollar value offered. Staging also decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market by 53%. The most commonly staged rooms when selling are:

  • The Living Room - 93%
  • The Kitchen – 84%
  • The Master Bedroom – 78%

READ: Santa Barbara and Montecito Landscape Design

6. Curb Appeal
We are all aware of the importance of curb appeal when selling a Santa Barbara home, and for good reason. You only have one chance to make a first impression so make sure the exterior looks excellent. Trim your shrubs, weed your flower beds, fix any peeling paint, and keep the walkway clear. Just adding a row of potted plants along the walkway or a cheerful wreath to your front door can make a big difference.

READ: How to Increase Home Value

7. Considering an Upgrade?
If you’re looking to upgrade your home prior to selling it, you might want to consider the following list of 8 upgrades that buyers consider the most appealing:

  • Central Air Conditioning
  • New Kitchen Appliances
  • Walk-in Closet in Master Bedroom
  • Granite Counter Tops
  • Hardwood Floors
  • Master Bath en-suite
  • Kitchen Island
  • Stainless Steel Appliances

If you’re considering selling your Santa Barbara home, please give me a call. With years in the industry, I have the knowledge and contacts to get the job done. The proof is in the fact that I have obtained record dollar amounts for world-class estates, homes, and land in the area. Just call me at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at

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