Cristal's Blog


June 22, 2023

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In spite of the gloomy weather that marked the month of May, the real estate market in Santa Barbara continued to shine bright. Driven by strong demand and limited inventory, real estate sales in our coastal community remained robust. Santa Barbara's stunning natural beauty, desirable amenities, and high quality of life continues to attract buyers, making it one of the most sought-after destinations in the country.

A banquette with a rustic fireplace, rattan chairs, and climbing plant under a pergola

Luxury, Comfort and Prestige

Santa Barbara's real estate market maintained its competitive landscape last month, with a relatively low number of available listings. This scarcity of properties for sale created challenges for buyers, as they faced increased competition and, in some cases, encountered multiple offers. In this environment, the importance of having a knowledgeable and experienced agent cannot be overstated. Navigating the complexities of buying a home requires swift and strategic action from buyers, who must be prepared with pre-approvals and act decisively to stand out in the market while considering their budget and prioritizing their preferences.

On the other hand, sellers enjoyed favorable conditions in May, with well-priced homes attracting significant interest, sometimes receiving multiple offers. Sellers benefitted from the advantage of quick sales, and in some cases, even achieving prices above asking price. Nevertheless, it remains crucial for sellers to collaborate closely with an experienced real estate agent they can trust to determine the ultimate pricing strategy from the beginning and remain competitive in the market.

While activity levels have increased, it is important to note that we are not experiencing the unchecked price growth witnessed in the summer of 2021 and early 2022. However, the luxury real estate segment continues to thrive, with affluent buyers seeking exclusive properties that offer breathtaking views, privacy, and high-end amenities. These luxury homes exemplify the epitome of coastal living, representing a significant portion of market activity in May. Buyers in the luxury sector are willing to invest in properties that provide a harmonious blend of luxury, comfort, and prestige.

As the summer season heats up, the real estate market in Santa Barbara is expected to sustain interest from buyers looking to settle in the area or invest in second homes here. The allure of coastal living in Santa Barbara, with our pleasant year-round climate and proximity to the world class beaches, continues to attract buyers. The desire to live in a vibrant community like ours, with our variety of recreational activities, cultural attractions and events, and upscale dining and shopping options, remains a significant driving force behind the interest in real estate here.

More Insight

In my latest video, I share more insight into the current real estate market and the future in Santa Barbara and our surrounding communities.

Neighborhood Market Update

A large Montecito estate with large red tiled roof home against a mountain and sunset backdrop, and a large infinity-edge pool


SOLD: 22

A large, enchanting story book Hope Ranch Santa Barbara estate with a kidney shaped pool surrounded by greenery.

Hope Ranch


A 2-story Mediterranean home with a sparkling pool and lush landscaping

Santa Barbara

SOLD: 42

The Bella Vista Estate, one of the grandest estates in North America perched in the Santa Ynez Mountain foothills near Montecito with two tall palm trees and lots of lush greenery plus a pool and private polo field in the foreground


SOLD: 11

Featured Listing

The beautiful Birnam Wood home of award-winning acclaimed interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein in Montecito with a serene pool and 3 doors illuminated from within

Divine and Timeless Birnam Wood Estate
Offered at $12,300,000

Exquisite Birnam Wood Estate Redefined by Renowned Designer Suzanne Rheinstein

Step into the realm of timeless beauty and effortless elegance with the meticulously renovated Birnam Wood estate, owned and designed by acclaimed interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein. A champion of the limited palette, the late Rheinstein brought her visionary touch to this divine residence, creating a space that celebrates simplicity, clean lines, and carefully curated details that accentuate color, texture, and shape.

The living room is a true testament to effortless elegance. With its high ceilings, rich wood floors, custom lighting, and a magnificent fireplace, it exudes an air of refined sophistication. Bespoke furnishings complement the sublime design, creating a harmonious blend of comfort and style.

Prepare to be enchanted by the stunning gourmet kitchen. Adorned with a custom island crafted from basalt stone and walls of storage, it is both functional and visually striking. Elegant French doors open to reveal captivating views of the garden and the majestic Santa Ynez mountains, infusing the space with a sense of serenity and natural beauty.

The intimate primary bedroom offers a private sanctuary within the estate. Featuring an en-suite bath, a tranquil seating area with picturesque views, and direct access to the pool, it provides the perfect escape for relaxation and rejuvenation. Seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor living, most rooms in the house open to embrace the surrounding natural splendor. This emphasis on connection to nature creates an atmosphere of harmony and tranquility throughout the estate.

Impeccably landscaped grounds showcase artfully crafted gardens, a refreshing lap pool adorned with wicker lounge chairs, and a pergola that offers a welcoming shade to bask in while taking in the breathtaking mountain vistas. Radiating supreme elegance, this remarkable home transcends time with its impeccable design and attention to detail.

The Birnam Wood estate is a testament to the mastery of Suzanne Rheinstein, capturing the essence of minimalist luxury and offering a truly enchanting living experience. This video will give you a sneak peek and I would be happy to arrange a private tour.

If you’re considering making a move, please call me at (805) 886-9378 or send me an email at for a complimentary consultation. Meantime, stay apprised of local, regional and national real estate trends with my next market update.

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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