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SANTA BARBARA REAL ESTATE MARKET UPDATE: DECEMBER 2023

January 15, 2024

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As we usher in 2024, the Santa Barbara real estate market finds itself intricately entwined with the evolving rhythms of the economy. In my role as a leading Santa Barbara realtor, I'm here to offer you an in-depth perspective on the current landscape, illuminating the pivotal factors shaping the dynamic real estate market. Whether you stand on the threshold of moving into a new home or are a savvy seller poised to capitalize on shifting dynamics, this December update is your comprehensive guide to understanding the future of Santa Barbara real estate.


An aerial view of Santa Barbara stretching out to the ocean and horizon.

Economic Normalization and Easing Inflation

The economic horizon shows promising signs of normalization, accompanied by a gradual easing of inflation. Recent data indicates that once burdened by inflation concerns, consumers are now perceiving a positive shift. The consensus is that the worst may be behind us, with expectations aligning with a moderation in mortgage rates as overall price growth slows into 2024.

Housing Market Momentum

While home buying sentiment experienced a decline in the past month, the recent dip in mortgage rates over the last six weeks is anticipated to reinvigorate the housing market. The onset of the new year, traditionally marked by lower home prices, is expected to attract sidelined homebuyers aiming to capitalize on both reduced prices and favorable interest rates. The beginning of 2024 might witness a surge in home sales, with hopes that this momentum will endure throughout the upcoming year.

Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations

Consumer sentiment experienced a notable surge in early December, attributed to lower gas prices and increased equity values. The University of Michigan's index revealed a significant jump, indicating improved perceptions of the future economic outlook. The remarkable decline in inflation expectations is particularly interesting, with the one-year outlook dropping sharply from November to December. This decline, the largest in nearly 22 years, could have positive implications for holiday spending, contributing to a more optimistic economic landscape.

Homeowner Equity Rebounds

The latest CoreLogic Homeowner Equity Insights reveal a positive trajectory for homeowner equity. After a slight dip in the first two quarters of the year, homeowner equity increased annually in Q3 2023. Homeowners with mortgages in the U.S. experienced an aggregated increase of $1.1 trillion in equity since Q3 2022, reflecting a 6.8% year-over-year growth—this resurgence in equity positions homeowners well, with California witnessing the second-largest gain nationally.

Neighborhood Market Update

A Cape Cod-style home and its lush grounds with mountains in the background and a serene blue pool in the foreground.

Montecito
______

New: 10
Price: 4
Pending: 9
Closed: 9

A large storybook-looking home in Hope Ranch, with a sparking pool in the foreground and lush greenery surrounding it.

Hope Ranch
______

New: 0
Price: 0
Pending: 0
Closed: 0

The all-white living room of a Santa Barbara home with columns, beamed ceiling, which plush furniture and windowsa wall of windows looking out to the ocean.

Santa Barbara
______

New: 32
Price: 11
Pending: 39
Closed: 33

A Cape Cod-style home in Summerland with panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Carp/Summerland
______

New: 6
Price: 1
Pending: 6
Closed: 8


Featured Property

The front of a Montecito Contemporary Ocean View Home, illuminated from within, with mountains in the background at twilight.

Idyllic Montecito Contemporary Ocean View Haven
LISTING PRICE: $ 6,895,000

Nestled amidst mature oaks, this contemporary Montecito residence effortlessly blends the tranquility of Zen-like simplicity with the sophistication of form and function. Behind its gated entrance, the home offers breathtaking ocean and island views, creating a serene and peaceful ambiance. Illuminated by abundant windows, glass doors, skylights, and indirect lighting, the residence exudes an airy and spacious feel complemented by snowy white walls. The terraced grounds surrounding the home add a touch of magic to the overall setting.

The TV is on above the fireplace in this posh living room with grey furniture and a floor to ceiling window that looks out to the ocean.


Enter the inviting living room, and immediately, your gaze is captivated by the expansive view of the ocean and Channel Islands in the distance. Floor-to-ceiling sidelight windows, framed by an expanse of glass, provide an uninterrupted connection to the breathtaking scenery. A modern fireplace emanates a warm glow; its reflection is mirrored in the large sliding glass doors that lead to a captivating terrace.

A formal dining room with a modern light fixture above a black table with a breathtaking ocean view.


The formal dining area, an elegant alcove with an ocean view, is perfect for formal gatherings and relaxed meals. Positioned just a few steps from the kitchen, this space seamlessly combines chef-worthy appliances and amenities with custom cabinetry and design elements, all presented in an understated and sophisticated manner.

A serene bedroom with a plant in the corner and a mirror on the wall with a modern light fixture above a modern looking chair.


Every bedroom in this extraordinary residence is meticulously designed to provide unparalleled privacy, comfort, and satisfaction. For instance, the primary bedroom suite features expansive windows, a dedicated sitting room, a spacious walk-in closet, and an opulent bath, ensuring a luxurious and tranquil retreat.

A sparkling blue pool with a double lounge chair on an expansive deck with a pergola, lush foliage, and an ocean view.


The true masterpiece of this property lies in its terraced grounds, where the pièce de résistance is a stunning pool surrounded by an expansive deck, complemented by a pergola, a built-in barbecue, and a convenient wet bar. A meandering path unveils additional delights, including Zen-like areas featuring enchanting fire pits and soothing fountains.


As we navigate the complex interplay of economic factors and consumer perceptions together, I'm happy to report the Santa Barbara real estate market remains a dynamic and evolving landscape. For personalized insights and assistance tailored to your unique real estate goals, please don't hesitate to contact me at (805) 886-9378 or via email at Cristal@montecito-estate.com. I am wishing you a fruitful and informed real estate journey in 2024!


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Client Reviews

“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