Cristal's Blog


November 16, 2023

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One of the traditional aspects of real estate is the seasonal variation in median prices and the number of sales. Typically, these statistics tend to flatten or even decline from late summer into January when compared to the spring and early summer months. This year is no exception, with the market seeming to follow this pattern. In addition, the ongoing increase in interest rates and other market dynamics are putting pressure on prices, although this is mitigated to some extent by the persistently low supply of available homes for sale.

Drone photo over the Pacific looking toward land and the Santa Barbara Polo Field and mountains.

Inventory Is Increasing, But Still Low

Housing inventory has been slowly increasing throughout the year. However, the end of September still sees a relatively low number of active listings compared to the norm. Last year at the same time, there were 132 active listings, while this year, we have 160, which is certainly an improvement but still falls short of the 400-plus active listings that would be typical.

This low inventory can be attributed to various factors. Many sellers struggle to find another property when they sell their homes, and matching their current interest rates on a new home is often challenging. Most properties coming onto the market do so due to "life events," such as the death of the owner, moves to assisted living, divorces, job transfers, or relocations near family, especially grandchildren. Sellers who don't have an urgent need to sell tend to remain on the sidelines.

Buyer Behavior and Market Dynamics

Buyers are still willing to pay a premium for homes that have been tastefully remodeled, offer charming features, flexible floor plans, excellent amenities, or captivating views. In early October, several highly sought-after properties received multiple offers, some exceeding the asking price. Conversely, homes with less appeal receive more cautious attention and take longer to sell. Buyers are more discerning, ensuring they aren't committing to significant renovation projects, and they are also more assertive in requesting seller concessions.

Opportunities and Challenges

Today's buyers are encountering fewer multiple-offer situations and are finding greater opportunities to negotiate prices and terms with sellers compared to a year ago. Nonetheless, the challenges lie in interest rates, price points, and the availability of reasonable home insurance. Homeownership has historically been a path to long-term wealth, and many buyers are cognizant of this fact. Moreover, what better place to live than the American Riviera?

More Insight

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

Neighborhood Market Update

A birds eye view of an architecturally remarkable glass and wood contemporary home in Montecito



A birds eye view of an English Country style Hope Ranch Estate, with lawn and swimming pool in the foreground and the large home in the background

Hope Ranch


The living room fo a Santa Barbara home for sale with a fireplace and ocean view.

Santa Barbara

SOLD: 47

The spacious living room of a Santa Barbara Polo Club condo, with fireplace and ocean view



The motor court and main residence of a world class Montecito estate designed by architect George Washington Smith, at sunset with a beautiful pink and purple sky

Featured Property

"Los Sueños" Grand Montecito Estate by Architecut George Washington Smith
2925 Sycamore Canyon Road, Montecito, CA
Listing Price: $33,000,000

Nestled in the heart of Montecito, "Los Sueños" is an extraordinary estate, designed by the esteemed architect George Washington Smith, set on approximately 3.36 acres of meticulously landscaped grounds. Within the confines of this historic Spanish Colonial Revival estate, the enchantment of Old World charm intertwines seamlessly with the contemporary comforts, crafting a residence that stands as one of the most distinguished properties in the Golden State.

An entry gate opens to a long driveway lined with trees.

Upon entry through a secluded gated entrance and a driveway bordered by trees, you are welcomed by a gracious foyer featuring a breathtaking rib-vaulted ceiling. The property encompasses a glistening pool, a brick terrace enveloped by verdant surroundings, a tennis court, rose gardens, an orchard, and covered parking for up to four vehicles.

The wood paneled living room of a historic, luxury estate in Montecito.

Within the main residence, a lavish living room, with its fireplace, is adorned with an abundance of natural sunlight, creating an inviting and warm ambiance of sophistication. Sophisticated wood paneling, exquisite marble, meticulously polished hardwood floors, custom chandeliers and fixtures, refined crown molding, and numerous terrace-accessible doors are featured throughout.

A luxury bedroom suite opening onto a terrace.

The primary bedroom suite rivals world-class hotels with dual luxurious baths, walk-in closets, and a fireplace. A unique guest suite, perched in its own tower, offers a private retreat with a fireplace and stunning views from multiple balconies.

A sparkling pool and brick surround amidst lush, manicured greenery and large trees

This gracefully designed estate combines sophistication and refinement while offering privacy and convenience to Montecito's amenities, including shopping, schools, and recreational opportunities.

Whether you're interested in purchasing, selling, or investing in real estate in this area, feel free to reach out to me at (805) 886-9378 or drop me an email at to schedule a no-cost consultation. Meanwhile, stay informed about market trends by keeping an eye out for my upcoming market updates.

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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