Cristal's Blog

The Santa Barbara Real Estate Market Continues to Skyrocket

June 18, 2021

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the sunroom of a santa barbara home for sale as an example of the fact that The Santa Barbara Real Estate Market Continues to Skyrocket

The Santa Barbara real estate market is continuing to surge, with prices soaring, even as more inventory hits the MLS. In May of 2021, Santa Barbara home sales shot up 61.3% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $1.8M. On average, homes in Santa Barbara sell after 37 days on the market compared to 57 days last year. There were 126 homes sold in May this year, up from 49 last year.

This strong seller’s market, which began in 2020, continues to intensify. Despite the increase in listings, like my latest Quintessential California Beach House on Padaro Lane pictured above, inventory has not kept up with the relentless buyer demand.

There are many factors that are causing the nation’s current residential housing boom. First off, it is being driven by our improving economy. Another factor centers around millennials who are reaching their prime homebuying years. Low mortgage rates and an increase in working from home ignited by the pandemic are also fueling the rapid increase. In fact, more existing homes were sold in 2020 than in any year since 2006. My personal sales total in 2020 was in excess of $260M, a record-breaking year for me. And this year is shaping up to be another one for the record books. Check out my latest newsletter with details regarding the current market in and around Santa Barbara.

front view of a California cottage with driveway and lawn in the foreground

Buyers Feel FOMO on an Epic Scale
Due to buyers’ epic sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) along with an increase in the number of exceptional listings like my Montecito California Cottage pictured above, top agents like me are experiencing multiple offers, and bidding wars with final sales above list price, pending in mere days.

This new high is thanks largely to a few beach sales in Carpinteria, including my Charming Ocean View Ranch-style Home, which sold for top dollar. The quick sale of my Magnificent French Provincial-Style Birnam Wood Residence is a prime example of the booming market in Montecito. In the Santa Barbara real estate market, my Warm and Bright Single Level Ranch Style Home listing sold in record time. Don’t let FOMO get you down. I’m adding amazing listing practically every day to share with you.

READ: Attention Vacation Rental Owners (and Potential Owners)!

Job Growth’s Effects on Real Estate

Does job growth really affect the real estate industry? You bet it does! The single most important factor in determining the past and future of real estate is the number of people employed. In the single month of March 2021, California gained 135,300 jobs, still down nearly 1.4 million from a year earlier and 1.7 million below the pre-recession peak reached in December 2019.

The quantity of jobs in California directly impacts statewide homeownership. Makes sense when you consider that without a paycheck, nobody can afford to buy a house, let alone rent an apartment. Demand for all types of Santa Barbara real estate increases when the number of local jobs grows, as we’ve seen in the past during periods of economic development or boom. Additions to the local labor force tend to drive prices up on properties in the vicinity and results in local construction of homes and rentals.

Millennials Lead the Homebuying Charge

There’s a good reason that millennials, those born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are leading the current homebuying charge. Older millennials, who are turning 40 this year, want more space for their growing families. Right behind them, younger millennials are entering their peak homebuying years creating a new wave of buyers who will have the opportunity to build and pass on wealth while shaping the market for years to come. And Santa Barbara checks all the boxes this generation is looking for—the average millennial buyer wants a house with a nice backyard in a desirable, quiet location. Check, check!

Historically Low Mortgage Rates

Experts say much of the continued real estate frenzy has to do with low mortgage rates. Even if you plan on paying cash, the historically low numbers have a real bearing on all real estate transactions.

The Fed’s current policy, which began in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, even has a name: quantitative easing (Q.E.). That’s Fed-speak for when the central bank goes into the market, month after month, to buy Treasury bonds, mortgage-backed securities and other forms of long-term credit to drive up the price of these securities and lower their yields. In effect, this keeps long-term interest rates lower than they otherwise would be.

READ: Moving to a New Home: 6 Considerations for Families

In the wake of the economic slowdown as a result of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March of 2020, that short-term strategy effectively kick-started the economy. But many people are wondering how long Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Fed, will keep rates so low. Experts even worry that Powell’s decision could be helping to inflate bubbles in housing, lumber, copper, Bitcoin and stocks, bonds and other assets. And there’s evidence behind this concern. The Consumer Price Index, a gauge of inflation, rose 5% last May, which is the fastest rate in nearly 13 years.

It’s unclear what the Fed will do now that everyone is addicted to these low-interest rates. But, as the saying goes, “What goes up must come down.” That’s why I’m telling all my discerning customers who are on the fence about selling to do it now.

If you’re considering taking advantage of the current Santa Barbara real estate market boom, I’m your agent. You can count on me to both sell your existing home and find your new real estate asset at the same time, which makes both transactions easier. Just check out all my exceptional listings in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities. As I explained above, this is an excellent time to sell. Contact me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at and allow me to do the rest!

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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