Cristal's Blog


August 19, 2022

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Of course, you want to maximize your profit when selling your Montecito home. Many people are tempted to consider options such as working with a discount real estate agent or entering into a sale-by-owner program. But Cristal Clarke is here to tell you, “Don’t!"

From my extensive experience selling real estate, I know that the stress and work can be substantial when all is said and done. And you might actually lose money in the end. Instead, follow the example of the owners of the Serene Spanish-Style Montecito Home pictured in this blog post who are working with me and find the right real estate agent to work with. 

Find the Right Real Estate Agent
Working with a certified agent is key in maximizing profits when selling a home. Think about it. You need to stay focused on your job. You don’t need to take on the added burden of becoming a real estate expert. Find someone who loves selling real estate, lives it every day, and is eager to help you sell quickly for optimum return on your investment. Besides bringing a wealth of knowledge and possible buyers to the table, an agent has no bias or emotional attachment to the property. 

The living room of a Santa Barbara estate with windows that showcase the garden and the mountains behind

Both timing and price are of the utmost importance, and a mistake in either can set you down the wrong path with your home, causing you to lose both time and money. The right agent will know how to time your sale correctly, bearing in mind the local market conditions. They will also consider your personal needs and find a balance between your busy calendar and the local market's ebbs and flows.

Your agent will also be able to price your home right to ensure a smooth and quick sales process. A home listed too high is likely to push potential buyers away. Setting the price too low won’t get the property seen by the right buyers.

A good agent will be able to negotiate the best price. They know that just because someone is offering a higher price, they may not be the best buyer for your home. An agent will take care of multiple offers, negotiate on your behalf, vet all the buyers and present you with the information needed to make the best possible choice.

The elegant dining room of a Santa Barbara estate with a chandelier and french doors that open onto a terrace

3 Ways to Maximize Your Profit

Even with the right realtor, there are a few sensible ways you, as a savvy seller, can maximize your profit when selling a home. Here are the top 3:

1) Closing Adjustments
As a seller, you can be repaid at closing for several things, including any service or supply contracts you have prepaid. All you have to do as a seller is identify each contract, create a per diem cost allocation for each one, then multiply that cost by using the days remaining on the contract at the closing date.

Here are some examples of what can be included in closing adjustments:

    • Propane, oil, or any fuel contracts
    • Water
    • Real estate town and village taxes
    • Condominium / cooperative common / maintenance charges
    • Pool Service
    • Pest control
    • Gardening

    You can recoup thousands of dollars in prepayments when you add up the amount you paid for all your contracts after the closing date. All you need is the documents along with the adjustments.

    2) IRC §1031
    Wondering how to avoid capital gains taxes? Ever consider exchanging your home for another? For sellers subject to California income tax, state tax law follows federal law for purposes of deferral under Section 1031. Advanced planning is key to success in any exchange, regardless of state. Sellers must pay particular attention to the timing of the sale of their relinquished property. You must also estimate your equity and debt replacement objectives and retain an expert, qualified intermediary.

    Keep in mind that the IRS will not honor the exchange if either the 45-day identification period is missed, or your replacement property is not acquired within a 180-day exchange period. While the deferred capital gain will continue on the property acquired as a tax attribute. But, if you use section 1031, you can defer the capital gains tax owed indefinitely. That means sellers can compound their real estate purchasing power by including the unpaid tax into their available purchasing monies for their next transaction. (Make sure you talk to your accountant or tax attorney before you put IRC §1031 into action.)

    3) Mortgage Interest/Real Estate Tax Deductions
    As all wealthy individuals know, it takes proper planning to make money while limiting the taxable amount. That means savvy home sellers look for legal ways to take deductions from their taxable gross income. But, again, ensure you work with your accountant or tax attorney and follow the new tax laws. As I understand it, however, most homeowners can still deduct all of their mortgage interest, which is one of the most popular and lucrative tax breaks for wealthy individuals.

    If you’re looking to sell in Montecito, Hope Ranch, or any of Santa Barbara's upscale communities, do yourself a favor and call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at and book a complimentary consultation. Let me show you have to maximize profits when it comes time to sell! Of course, I can also help you find a new home.

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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