Cristal's Blog


May 25, 2022

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Writer Susan Hartzler’s Q&A with Top Montecito Realtor Cristal Clarke

Luxury home sales in Santa Barbara County are still soaring. However, there are some tips Award-Winning Realtor Cristal Clarke has to share to ensure selling your home quickly also brings top dollar. And Cristal knows what she’s talking about. She continues to represent the highest level of clientele, specializing in the sale and acquisition of extraordinary homes, estates and land in Montecito, Santa Barbara, Hope Ranch, and all the upscale markets around the county.

As the #1 producing agent in the U.S. and worldwide among 60,000 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agents, Cristal knows our local market inside and out.


Here’s a Q&A with Cristal regarding selling in Santa Barbara County:

Q. What makes a winning selling strategy?

A. A winning sales strategy in real estate is part art, part science, utilizing many different tools to reach potential buyers. To get to escrow quickly and for the best price, sellers must consider an agent’s access to the right buyers. 

I believe creating individual marketing plans for each client is the key to selling a luxury home, and it starts with creating a compelling story designed to resonate with the right buyer. I market that story online through my website, blog and social media channels; with traditional media like magazines and leading newspapers; and with The Berkshire Hathaway Network, which offers unique opportunities not found with any other agency.

My company has developed and maintained some amazing partners such as Juwai, Mansion GlobalThe Wall Street Journal, Unique Homes, and DuPont Registry. Besides these exclusive partnerships, Berkshire Hathaway agents can also tap into the company’s vast global network to highlight a particular property directly to more than 2.3 billion people in almost 120 countries as well as excellent connections in the corporate world.

Birds Eye View of a luxury home for sale in Santa Barbara framed by mountains and blue sky

Q. How can a seller find the right real estate agent to work with?

A. Real estate is a very competitive business, especially when it comes to selling your home. More than 87% of realtors fail within their first five years. A great way to find the right realtor is through word of mouth. Ask your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors for referrals. If people close to you have used an agent they liked, then you’ll probably like them as well. After all, reputation is what an agent lives and dies on. In addition, an excellent website and overall online presence allow an agent to be found via search engines.

Q. What is the importance of pricing a home correctly?

A. Pricing right depends on the location and the marketing strategy, but a general rule is to price a property in line with market conditions. However, this can be very difficult to get right in such a fast-paced market. The key is to work with an agent who has experience; the more experience an agent has, the more likely they will be able to price a home right the first time.

If a property is priced too high, it can sit on the market and become stale, resulting in price adjustments. Buyers may perceive these adjustments as a sign that the seller is desperate, causing them to offer less than had the house been priced correctly to start. 

Sometimes it's better to price the property slightly below market value in order to generate multiple offers and buyer interest levels, which can result in the property being bid up in price.

Q. What steps should a homeowner take to ensure a quick sale?

A. Besides finding the right agent to work with, creating a marketing story, and pricing correctly the first time, it’s best to keep the seller far in the background, if not entirely invisible. That’s why I have sellers remove all their personal stuff, such as photos, from their homes, and decorate in neutral colors. The goal is to showcase the property, not the seller.

Th einterior of a home that has been staged for sale

Q. Do sellers need to stage their home?

A. Yes. This is the #1 criterion for obtaining the highest price on a property. Buyers have to envision how they would live in a home, not how you live. The flow of a property and how it's staged is critical to a good buyer experience.

Q. Should you repaint before you list your home?

A. If the property is very specific to a seller, such as multi-colored rooms, it can be advantageous to have a property painted in more neutral tones that have a broader appeal base. 

Q. Are 3D tours worth it?

A. As with most property searches, potential buyers search first online to determine which properties may best suit their needs. As such, a 3D tour can be very helpful, especially if clients are out of town or out of state and have to make travel plans in order to see the property.

Accolades From Cristal’s Clients

Cristal’s discerning clients have a lot to say about her stellar career. They cite her in-depth knowledge of the local, regional, and national real estate market and her priceless domestic and international contacts. Perhaps most important to sellers are her negotiating skills and outstanding individualized marketing plans outlined above.

According to one repeat client: “Cristal Clarke has … handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better.”

Many of Cristal’s clients are celebrities or other high-net-worth individuals who value their privacy. According to one such couple, “If you’re looking for personal, discrete, and private representation of the highest quality, we suggest you look no further than Cristal.”

Praised for her dedication, Cristal goes the extra mile for each and every one of her discerning clients throughout the transaction and even beyond escrow. Most of her clients become friends who know they can count on Cristal, and that trust translates into repeat business and referrals as well as personal bonds. That’s why sellers of the finest homes have come to count on her for all their real estate needs.

If you are looking for the right agent to expedite selling your home in Santa Barbara County, give Cristal a call at (805) 886.9378 or via email at for a free consultation.

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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