Cristal's Blog


April 25, 2024

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Although I enjoyed the recent rains, if you are like me, you are ready for them to be over. Despite the cooler temperatures and record rainfall, this does not seem to have put a damper on our local real estate marketplace, which continues to bubble along, and I have some wonderful listings which can be seen on my website, with more to come.

A smiling Realtor, Cristal Clarke, in her office on her cell phone looking at her laptop.

Quarter 1, 2024 Started the Santa Barbara Region's Real Estate Year Off Comfortably.

The first quarter of 2024 (yes, summer is just around the corner) continued to see forward momentum in our local communities, with a noticeable downturn in the number of properties selling despite numerous off-market sales. Prices kept pace with demand, and inventory continued to be a drag on increased activity.

Casamar, an extraordinary Mediterranean estate in Montecito at night with the lights on inside and a spectacular sky.


Montecito currently has 51 active listings, including my new listing pictured above, Casamar: An Extraordinary Mediterranean Estate, with 45 properties closed or pending in Q1 2024. For Q1, average and median sales prices rose 64% and 21% respectively, with average and median list prices following suit, with gains of 26% and 43%. It is not surprising that sales numbers slipped to 15 units due to lack of inventory, which declined by 24%, while the time properties took to sell rose 59%, to 51 days.

A Santa Barbara Mediterranean home with a red tiled roof, pool, and awe inspiring ocean views.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara had 113 closed or pending properties in Q1 2024 and currently has 69 properties available for sale, including Sea La Vie: A beautiful Mediterranean-style home in Santa Barbara. Gains in the average list and sales prices also rose, but less dramatically than in Montecito. These rose 4% and 11% year over year, while the number of properties sold rose 22% due to an increase in inventory levels, which rose 25%. Similar to that in Montecito, the time it takes for a property to sell also rose by 42%, to 54 days.

A storybook looking home with high-peak roofs on a large lot of lush greenery in Hope Ranch.

Hope Ranch

Hope Ranch has 1 property currently for sale, with 3 properties either closed or pending in 2024. The enclave had sizable declines in the average and median list prices: down 41% and 32% respectively, with average and median sales prices rising 10% and 12% year over year. The drastic lack of inventory, down 95% year over year, has led to a corresponding drop in sales, which was also down 75% year over year. This may also be due to market factors such as interest rates, but, the time a property took to sell also fell drastically as there were fewer options for buyers to choose from. The days on the market fell from 71 days to 10 days.

Important Questions

Of course, the question on everyone’s minds these days is all about the legal actions across the US as they relate to real estate commissions moving forward. Nothing has yet been decided, and final rulings are expected by the courts, with the first rulings due sometime in June of this year. Certainly, changes will be coming in how business is conducted, but, as has always been the case, commissions are never fixed and always negotiable. What will be determined is who pays the commissions. Whether sellers choose to do so, or if it becomes a buyer's responsibility, they do so by adjusting their offering prices to reflect the additional costs they will be paying. One thing that seems certain is that MLS listings will no longer allocate a buyer agent commission.

As always, there are pros and cons with these changes. One I have not heard anyone address is the effect it will potentially have on property tax revenue. If buyer agent commissions are removed from the transaction, the recorded sale price will be less, and as such property tax revenue will be reduced by 2%-3%. How the various agencies deal with the potential shortfall/loss in revenues has yet to be seen.

As always if you have any real estate questions, please feel free to contact me. Wishing everyone a dry and sunny rest of spring, I can be reached at 805-886-9378 or

Of Related Interest:

Cristal Clarke Recognized Once Again By Leading Industry Publication
Selling a Montecito Home: A Few Things to Consider
What Makes Santa Barbara One of the Best Places to Live

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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