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Neighborhood Spotlight: Hope Ranch's Beach Access, Trails, and Top Schools Make it a Top Place to Buy Real Estate

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Neighborhood Spotlight: Hope Ranch's Beach Access, Trails, and Top Schools Make it a Top Place to Buy Real Estate


HOPE RANCH IS A PLACE LIKE NO OTHER IN THE SANTA BARBARA AREA. AS YOU PASS UNDER THE FILIGREED SIGN SUSPENDED ACROSS LAS PALMAS DRIVE, YOU FEEL AS IF YOU’RE ENTERING A WORLD ALL YOUR OWN. TOWERING PALMS LINE THE MAIN DRIVE, AND A FEELING OF SERENITY IS EVER PRESENT THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY. IT IS SITUATED IN THE WESTERN PORTION OF THE SANTA BARBARA AREA BETWEEN HIGHWAY 101 AND THE OCEAN, AND ENCOMPASSES 1,863 ACRES. THE BROAD, FLAT MESA AND LOW ROLLING KNOLLS ARE PUNCTUATED BY A MAGNIFICENT VALLEY OF LIVE OAKS, WHICH MAKES IT AN IDEAL LOCATION FOR EQUESTRIAN-MINDED RESIDENTS.

 

Enchanting French Country Estate, Hope Ranch   |   offered at $14,900,000   |   click photo to learn more

 
 

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Private Beach Access

As a Hope Ranch member, you have private access to Hope Ranch Beach. This is a huge perk of living in the Hope Ranch community, and a main reason why people purchase homes in this neighborhood. There are lifeguards at the beach during the summer season, ensuring everyone experiences a fun and safe beach day while participating in a handful of activities. Hope Ranch beach offers picnic grounds, a play structure, a snack bar, kayak storage, storage lockers, bathrooms, and outdoor showers. The Hope Ranch Association also holds an annual summer beach party for residents where you spend the day barbecuing, surfing, kayaking, playing beach volleyball, building sandcastles in the sand, and at the end of the evening you have the option to set up a tent and camp overnight with the rest of the Hope Ranch community.


 

Trails

With miles of equestrian trails that span throughout the entire Hope Ranch community, horse enthusiasts can take their equestrian friends out on a trail ride and even ride along the beach at sunset.


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Schools

The highly acclaimed Laguna Blanca upper school is centrally located on 35-acres in Hope Ranch. "The Laguna experience shapes students in every possible way. While academics are at the core, it is just the beginning. Students are not only thinkers and scholars, but they are also artists, athletes, community volunteers, club members, leaders, and most importantly friends." 

LagunaBlanca.org


 

Privacy

Lined with oak trees, and tucked away in the rolling coastal hills, Hope Ranch is one of the most exclusive communities on the Central Coast. There is exclusive Hope Ranch patrol guarding the roads and keeping them safe, as well as a monthly newsletter with all recent activity that occurred in the community. Those lucky enough to live in Hope Ranch will tell you they wouldn't live anywhere else!


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Drought, Desalination... What's The Deal?

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Drought, Desalination... What's The Deal?

Drought

The current drought in California has commanded the attention of many and as we continue to see minimal rain here in Santa Barbara and throughout the state, this is not an issue that we will be disengaging from anytime soon. This particular drought began in 2012 and is the worst drought in 1,200 years. This year also marks an all-time record low for snow pack levels in the Sierras amounting to an equivalent of 24 billion gallons of water loss. For a striking visual perception of the drought, Click Here to view an article which compares photos of California's water sources just before the drought in 2011 and their recent state, in 2014.

Limited rainfall has caused our water reservoirs to become depleted and over drafting of groundwater is underway. Looking at our future, "the 2016-2017 water year is looking dire...assuming that there will be no surface water coming from Lake Cachuma, the State Water Project or Jameson Lake." State-wide, Governor Jerry Brown has issued a mandate that urban water use must be reduced 25 percent below 2013 levels by February 2016. To put this all in perspective, NASA estimates, "it would take 11 trillion gallons of water to get us out of drought," and it is these types of severities that are causing people to seek for solutions to this complicated problem.

Recently, Santa Barbara increased to Stage 3 drought regulations, which call for stringent water use restrictions and increased water rates. Conservation techniques are another alleviation, which Santa Barbara residents are implementing effectively. In the month of May, residents conserved an astounding 37%, bringing reduction efforts up to 24% since last July and only 1% away from the city's goal (go SB!). Santa Barbara also holds the lead for highest conservation rates in the state, but we must also consider what else may lie in the near future for our community. If the drought persists and there is no water available for purchase, the city needs another fallback.

Desalination

Desalination has been a topic of discussion as the vast ocean near our homes provokes its consideration as a potential water source; after all, 97.5% of all the water on Earth is sea water. Click here to watch a 30-second informational video explaining the process of desalination. For a smaller Santa Barbara community like Montecito, drought relief options are limited and, aside from increased water rates, desalination seems a viable recourse. According to Montecito general manager, Tom Mosby, "Santa Barbara expects to get its desalination facility operational next year [and] if it’s approved by the state and the Santa Barbara City Council moves forward, Montecito could get emergency permit status by the end of 2016 for its own facility." A new Montecito plant would cost between $60 and $80 million and in conjunction with the Santa Barbara plant,  "could handle almost all the city’s water needs"; but only as long as residents continuation their conservation and cut their existing usage by 25%.

The Deal

- The drought is very serious and even with some recent minor rainfall, residents must keep in the mind that this issue has not been overcome. There is a 70% likelihood that the drought will persist.

- Santa Barbara locals are responding productively to water restrictions and conservation efforts yet that does not mean we should ease up on conservation techniques and implementation - this is an ongoing endeavor. For further tips and information regarding reduction of your water consumption, visit the Santa Barbara County Water Conservation page by clicking here. 

- Desalination is only a complementary aid to water conservation, and efforts are underway to recommission the Santa Barbara plant as well as construct a new plant for Montecito; however, this may be costly, energy-intensive and it is questionable whether or not the plants will be ready and functioning before the drought is over.

- Effect on the real estate market: Water allotments per parcel are tightening and causing buyers to reconsider their water sources and water use (on average in California, almost 50% of total residential water use is for the outdoors/landscaping). Now more than ever, buyers are placing high value on wells and also drought-considerate landscaping in order to remain within these allotments.

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See What Montecito Agents Are Calling "The Best House on the Market"

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See What Montecito Agents Are Calling "The Best House on the Market"

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1125GardenLane_21

It's true. Montecito is riddled with some of the most enviable homes in the country, and arguably, the world. And really, it's no surprise. With the most idyllic climate since the south of France and views of a comparable, coastal landscape, Montecito is easy to fall in love with, make a home, and stay forever. And that is just what the owner's of 1125 Garden Lane did some 20 years ago. A couple from Maine who were pulled away to cultivate careers in the film industry, they vowed to create a home that felt like Maine, with the same sense of "permanence and provenance." And so was built an exceptional Dutch-Revival residence nestled on over 3 captivating acres. Really, the grounds are unlike any other. Read on to experience what many agents are calling "the best house on the market."

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FrontExtVert

 Occupying one of Montecito’s most sought-after and private locations, an exquisite New England estate perfectly balances character and antiquity with the modern tastes of today’s discerning buyers.

A captivating lane in Montecito’s famed Riven Rock, Garden Lane hosts a timeless residence built by its current owner to feel steeped in East Coast elegance. Beyond private entry gates, a meandering tree-lined drive introduces 3.38 wooded acres, where resident oaks and deciduous specimen trees appear untouched by time.

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1125GardenLane_09

The owner envisioned a home with “a sense of history, permanence and provenance,” which is exquisitely achieved not only by the blossoming vines that scale the exterior, but also by the thoughtfully curated design details found throughout the home. The home’s design aesthetic has been keenly celebrated in numerous design publications including Traditional Home, Elle Décor and Beautiful Homes Magazines. Stepping onto the inviting front porch, the attention to detail and superb quality construction is immediately evident. The striking foyer’s towering ceiling, archways and dignified staircase showcase the masterful eyes of architect Jock Sewall and builder Paul Franz. 

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1125GardenLane_12

Abundant natural light filters through an expansive picture window in the formal living room. Wide oak floorboards in a rich stain offer a luxurious contrast to crisp paneled walls, a tasteful fireplace and French doors leading to sunny terraces and glorious rose gardens on both sides of the room. An adjacent den of handsome design, offering built-ins and large window seat, is perfectly situated for an office or game room. 

The formal dining room is poised to host family and friends. Built-in china cabinets, a sundrenched window seat and exquisite chandelier create an atmosphere fitting for intimate dinner parties and jovial gatherings alike. Many of the light fixtures throughout the home are antique, having been hand selected by the owner in an effort to further the desired sense of history.

An expansive great room encompasses the charming kitchen and delightful family room where French doors and large windows open to the pool. Custom designed by the owner, an avid chef, the kitchen boasts the finest culinary appliances. An informal dining area comfortably seats ten, perfect for sunny Sunday morning brunch or casual afternoon snacks in the family great room.

The classic New England tenor continues throughout the great room with beadboard, crown molding and an inviting stone fireplace, creating a sophisticated yet comfortable ambience. A sunny deck with large stone fireplace beckons leisurely afternoons and crisp evenings beneath ancient oaks.

A quaint office/guest suite boasting a private bath, enjoys French doors opening to the pool garden. A powder room, oversized multipurpose room and laundry area ideal for arranging blossoms from the cutting garden, and access to the garage complete the home’s main level.

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1125GardenLane_25

The elegant staircase draws one to a lovely sitting area with built-in bookcases. Beautiful arched windows overlook the blossoming rose garden while a towering pitched ceiling creates a room both spacious and open, at the same time cozy and welcoming.

A pair of antique pillars frames the doorway to the master bedroom, introducing the vintage elegance that defines the suite. Century-old oak graces the floor, complementing the aged patina of the plaster walls. Large windows overlook verdant treetops, welcoming the romantic aroma of rose and herb gardens, and brilliant sunlight. Two walk-in closets precede the master bath, a serene escape boasting an oversized shower, elegant soaking tub and sizeable vanity with dual sinks and custom tile work. Windows open to the oak canopy, allowing sweet breezes to further the sense of calm in the master suite.

Two lovely bedroom suites on the opposite wing of the home’s upper level overlook the stunning pool garden. Both suites are bright and open with pitched ceilings and abundant sunlight, and offer the privacy of dedicated baths. In addition to the ample motor court, the spacious garage can house two vehicles and offers a sizeable workshop, custom built humidor and additional storage space ideal for a wine cellar.

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1125GardenLane_04

Outside, the grounds are a private oasis. Towering specimen trees surround the estate, allowing sun to filter to the private pool terrace, lush lawn and porch with outdoor fireplace. A charming pool cabana offers a powder room and lounge area with wet bar, ideal for escaping the afternoon sun. An impressive rose and herb garden offers bountiful blossoms for arrangements and cooking with the freshest ingredients.

Stone-lined pathways meander through the estate’s gently rolling acres, along Hot Springs and Cold Springs creeks, both seasonal, toward hidden sitting areas. A shady woodland of deciduous specimen trees, native oaks, apple and persimmon trees create a lively landscape ripe for exploration. Beyond the private gates of Riven Rock, the scenic Hot Springs hiking trail lies just a half-mile away, at the junction of Riven Rock Road and East Mountain Drive. The serene hiking trail winds past grand estates toward tranquil waterfalls and endless vista points. This exceptional lifestyle amenity can be enjoyed year-round in Montecito’s enviable climate.

The enclave affords unparalleled privacy and is defined by a calm and serenity awarded to few locations so near to town. Just minutes from Montecito’s fine dining, upscale shops, world-renowned resorts and pristine beaches, the quiet lanes of Riven Rock are perfectly situated for a rich lifestyle.

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1125GardenLane_20

1125 Garden Lane is offered at $6,795,000To experience the magic of this exquisite home, contact the listing agents at Riskin Partners to schedule a showing. 

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An International Affair

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An International Affair

Just a hop, skip, and a jump across the pond...and then all the way over to the West coast - yesterday, our fantastic affiliates at Mayfair International Realty paid us a lovely visit here in Montecito! Along with Village Properties' founder, Renee Grubb, we were fortunate enough to network with our guests, Managing Director Nick Churton and Director Annette Reeve. Much of the day was spent discussing advertising and press opportunities, as our exclusive collaboration with Mayfair presents the unique advantage of superb exposure to the global market. With member firms dating back to 1750 and covering every aspect of modern estate agency, land agency and property related professional services, Mayfair blends multiple disciplines with outstanding expertise and geographical supremacy. The Mayfair Group brings together all the very best independent firms to make a formidable force in property services. Over 300 hundred UK offices working in 47 counties, plus 150 offices active across North America and Australia, all have one aim in common – to provide the best possible property service where you live or would like to live.

So, we took the best to tour the best of our beautiful town. Throughout the day, we explored a variety of Village's properties including the romantic Villa di Serenita, charming Brookside, and one of our newest listings, enchanting Garden Lane. Of course, a proper experience of Santa Barbara would not be complete without a stop at the El Encanto Hotel for a delicious lunch! We wanted to thank our UK visitors for an enjoyable visit, we hope that our adoration for Santa Barbara and Montecito rubbed off on you and left a lasting impression!

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Mayfair6-3

To find out more about our premier affiliates at Mayfair International Realty, click here

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Press Release: Riskin Partners Closes Over $146 Million in Luxury Real Estate in Q1 2015

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Press Release: Riskin Partners Closes Over $146 Million in Luxury Real Estate in Q1 2015

Santa Barbara’s leading residential real estate team, Riskin Partners, a luxury division of  Village Properties Realtors, the area’s exclusive Christies International Real Estate affiliate,  has broken an all-time record, closing over $146 million in sales in the first quarter of 2015.  Partners Rebecca Riskin, Dina Landi and Sarah Kelly, earned the #1 position in the Santa  Barbara Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for dollar volume sales in 2014, and have closed in  excess of $284 million over the last twelve months. Riskin Partners has claimed the #1  position for dollar volume sales in Montecito 9 out of the last 10 years, and was recognized  by the Wall Street Journal in 2012 as the #11 team in the country.

Riskin Partners’ sales volume is a staggering 206% greater than the #2 agent in the Santa Barbara MLS. Among the team’s 2015 sales was an exceptional Padaro Lane beach house, which closed for $19 million, the year’s highest sale to date. Riskin Partners represented the sellers in every sale over $10 million this year. Three of those properties received multiple offers.

Riskin Partners represented the sellers of this exceptional Padaro Lane beach house, the year's highest sale to date.
Riskin Partners represented the sellers of this exceptional Padaro Lane beach house, the year's highest sale to date.

“In this year’s first quarter, Santa Barbara and Montecito have seen a substantial increase in real estate activity across the board,” said Dina Landi. “In fact, sales are up 26% year to date.”

What is the team’s strategy for the remainder of 2015?

According to Sarah Kelly, “In order to continue to provide impeccable service and unrivaled representation for our clients, we’ve expanded our team to include seven full-time professionals.”

Rebecca Riskin adds, “Meeting our client’s needs is our first priority. We are proud of our success, but ultimately only feel successful when our clients are happy.”

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Montecito - The Zip Code of Wealth

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Montecito - The Zip Code of Wealth

Every year Forbes.com releases a list of the nation's Most Expensive Zip Codes, and like clock work, Montecito's 93108 makes the list in the top 20. Home to not just millionaires, but a healthy number of billionaires and celebrities who either call Montecito home or their favorite place to keep their vacationhome. In 2013, Montecito ranked #17 on the Forbes list, with a median home price of $3,740,091. This year, with property values across the state of California slowly inching upward, Montecito comes in at #14 and $4,236,951. Other than exceptional year-round weather in an incredible coastal location, what defines a wealthy zip code. Firstly, the neighbors. Montecito is a mingling of staggering mega-mansions, distinctive historic houses, expertly designed new constructions and quaint cottages. A cozy 2 bedroom home may rest adjacent to a 10,000sf manse. These large estates tend to rest on acres of superbly manicured grounds with lavish outdoor entertaining spaces - perfect for lounging in warm, Montecito sun. These large properties affect the values of every property in their vicinity - driving up the value regardless of size - and increasing the average property value.

Secondly, that million dollar view. Montecito can be found between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. These higher elevations afford stunning views of both the mountains and the ocean. Some homes boast views so expansive, you can see the Santa Barbara harbor and the coastline to Ventura.

Next, the schools. Montecito is home to many of California's finest primary schools. Montecito Union and Cold Springs schools regularly rank as two of California's best public schools. Crane Country Day School, All Saints by the Sea, Music Academy of the West and Westmont College are all excellent private schools in the area. Being within the Montecito Union School district directly affects the price of a home when compared to homes which sit in neighboring districts.

Below, enjoy a few of the fantastic properties which have helped land Montecito's 93108 make the Forbes list once again. For more information on each property, simply click the image...

Expansive ocean views, a pool with lavish pool house and approximately 8,000sf of living space command a $13,695,000 price tag for this Montecito estate.
Expansive ocean views, a pool with lavish pool house and approximately 8,000sf of living space command a $13,695,000 price tag for this Montecito estate.
$9,250,000 will buy you a historic English Manor with ocean views and a location that allows for walking to restaurants, shops, luxury resorts and beaches.
$9,250,000 will buy you a historic English Manor with ocean views and a location that allows for walking to restaurants, shops, luxury resorts and beaches.
In a private, gated community, $2,195,000 will buy you a beautiful, flat 1.5 acre lot to build your dream home.
In a private, gated community, $2,195,000 will buy you a beautiful, flat 1.5 acre lot to build your dream home.

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LIVE! The Riskin Associates Mobile App

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LIVE! The Riskin Associates Mobile App

  Introducing the Riskin Associates mobile application 

  We are pleased to announce the availability of the Riskin Associates mobile application. Based in Montecito, CA, Riskin Associates has been the    top selling Santa Barbara real estate team for the past decade. The award-winning team lists some of the most coveted estates on the south Santa  Barbara coast. We were engaged by them to create a mobile application that would add to the services they provide their buying and selling clients  that have made them a market leader.

  Goals and Approach

For the design of the application, we took queues from the Village Properties mobile website we developed since the Riskin Associates team is part of the brokerage. We decided to keep the overall flow of the application intact, but the branding, content and functionality needed customized for Riskin Associates. We wanted to accomplish a number of goals with the modified design:

  • Produce a clean, elegant design that conveys the elegance and luxury of the properties they represent
  • Provide a vehicle for them to highlight and market their distinctive properties
  • Incorporate visual imagery that reflects the unique nature and beauty of their listings and the surrounding area
  • Create a finished product that would further differentiate their brand and set them apart as a leader in the market
Riskin-Associates-Featured-Properties-199x300-1
Riskin-Associates-Featured-Properties-199x300-1

Key features of the application

In order to develop the key features of the application, we evaluated their online presence which uses vivid photos and imagery to highlight their property listings. We wanted to provide a similar visual experience on mobile and give Riskin Associates the flexibility to highlight the different properties they represent. In addition to the essential features such as property search (both by location and by criteria), methods to contact the team, and an about us section, we incorporated the following:

  • A vivid home page focused on a full width image that can be dynamically changed by Riskin Associates
  • A featured listing section that allows them to highlight the properties they represent – each listing is its own interactive photo gallery that can be compiled and controlled by the Riskin Associates marketing team
  • Links to custom content created by the marketing team such as property brochures that are hosted through Calaméo

You can access the application via any iPhone or Android device by opening the browser (or Safari) on your phone and going to www.montecito-realestate.com. You will be automatically redirected to the mobile application where you can learn more about the Riskin Associates team and explore their featured listings.

Raising the bar for service and performance

It was a pleasure working with the Riskin Associates team on the development of their mobile application. The energy and enthusiasm they brought to the project is evident in the finished product. It is a reflection of the time and personal attention that they give each of their clients. It shows in all aspects of their business, particularly in the level of service they provide their clients and the attention-to-detail they put into their marketing materials. With the availability of their mobile application, they have another tool that reinforces this high level of service, whether it is used for marketing properties or helping prospective buyers identify properties to purchase.

The Riskin Associates mobile application is another example of how leading brokerages and agent teams are embracing mobile to raise the bar on the services the provide their clients, differentiate themselves in the market, and further reinforce their leadership position in the market.

The Riskin Associates mobile website was created by Aumnia.

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October's Epicure.sb Is Back!

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October's Epicure.sb Is Back!

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Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 2.22.33 PM

It's no secret that the Santa Barbara area is well-known for some of the freshest, most delectable farm-t0-table culinary offerings around. All year round, menus across town are tailored to highlight each season's unique fare and autumn is absolutely no exception. The harvest season brings out robust flavors and heart-warming colors which Santa Barbara chefs take full advantage of. October brings about the fabulous Epicure.sb event which invites locals and visitors alike to experience food-focussed events and creative menus. Special menus, crafted cocktails, wine tastings and more are all spotlighted all month long, infusing a fresh take on Santa Barbara cuisine. Invite your favorite foodie friends and indulge your appetite all through the month!

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Autumn Gifts: Santa Barbara Sunsets

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Autumn Gifts: Santa Barbara Sunsets

While Santa Barbara and the surrounding towns of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria are known for spectacular sunsets all throughout the year, the fall season brings especially brilliant fusions of purple, orange and pink hues. Casting a purple glow upon the Santa Ynez Mountains and Channel Islands, the sky burns the last moments of summer creating a romantic and unforgettable celestial sight. Enjoyable from just about any point, Santa Barbara's fall sunsets are particularly awe-inspiring from vantage points overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. The Santa Barbara harbor, Shoreline Park and Montecito's Butterfly Beach are a few of the area's most famous spots to take in the view.

But if you prefer to enjoy this natural art show from the comfort and privacy of your own chaise lounge, we've got something (a few somethings) for you! Below are some of the most luxurious estates currently on the market, all with one thing in common: a brilliant sunset view.

villa di serenita, california italian villa, luxury ocean view estate
villa di serenita, california italian villa, luxury ocean view estate

Perched atop a quiet ridge in Montecito, 550 Freehaven Drive's unique location allows for nearly 360 degree views, spanning from the serpentine Carpinteria coast to the shimmering Santa Barbara harbor. Taking full advantage of the impressive view, architect Michael De Rose designed the luxurious home with a tower viewing pavilion where one can take in Tuscany-like views of orchards and the Montecito Valley and endless ocean views simultaneously. It is truly a magical place for private moments and joyous celebrations alike. Offered at $16,950,000.

This sprawling Hope Ranch estate is perfectly sighted for enchanting sunset views.
This sprawling Hope Ranch estate is perfectly sighted for enchanting sunset views.

Set on approximately 9 rolling acres, 1520 Roble Drive in Santa Barbara's Hope Ranch enclave boasts a sprawling main house, a luxurious 2 bedroom guest house and an ocean view apartment. Enjoy the view from the loggia surrounded by bougainvillea and fragrant gardens.  Offered at $16,900,000.

1398 oak creek canyon, montecito custom estate
1398 oak creek canyon, montecito custom estate

Described as "quite possibly one of Montecito's best view properties" by many who have toured it, 1398 Oak Creek Canyon Road boasts 53 acres and a truly panoramic ocean and island view. Not to be overshadowed by the Pacific, the Santa Ynez foothills are the host of this new construction, which offer majestic views in their own right. Multiple terraces and balconies provide choice viewing locations for fall's stunning sunsets. Offered at $13,650,000.

Santa Barbara Riviera home
Santa Barbara Riviera home

You don't need to be sitting on 10+ acres to enjoy a fabulous ocean and sunset view. Sitting high in the Santa Barbara Riviera, 917 Paseo Ferrelo is the coolest house on the block - and then some. The ultra-modern home is ultra-ultra-chic with sensual interiors and expansive glass opening to a fantastic ocean, island and city view deck. Sunset in the fall, fireworks on the 4th and the sounds of the nearby Santa Barbara bowl are all included in this modern marvel unmatched by another. Offered at $3,150,000

Watch the sunset (or rise!) from one of these spectacular homes. Contact Riskin Associates.

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Class is Now in Session: Montecito and Santa Barbara's Excellent Educational Institutions

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Class is Now in Session: Montecito and Santa Barbara's Excellent Educational Institutions

Class is now in session! Montecito and the neighboring school districts are now well into the 2014/2015 school year - which means local children are back to learning and growing at some of the state's highest ranked educational institutions. The respected and coveted Montecito Union School is regularly ranked an 10/10 school, with an enrollment hovering around 460 children across 26 classrooms, with an average class size of just 18. The staff at MUS strive to help build well educated, well attended to, and well rounded students. Offering numerous extra curricular activities including after school programs, Art at Lunch, a Garden program and the GATE program, the school is renowned for producing exceptional students. Cold Springs school, just a few miles from MUS, is the second public school in the area while our numerous private schools include Crane Country Day School, Laguna Blanca and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Each educational institution in the area offers a unique strategy for its attendants, all in the beautiful, bucolic setting of Montecito.

Outside of Montecito, are the Santa Barbara Unified School District (home to 13 elementary, 4 junior high and 5 senior high schools), Hope Elementary School District in Santa Barbara's Hope Ranch enclave, and the Goleta Union School District.

One of Santa Barbara Unified School District's senior high schools, Dos Pueblos High, recently received a fantastic honor as one of the Top 25 Schools in the West, and the subsequent press. With a graduation rate of 99% (with 98% of graduated headed to college!!) the Home of the Chargers shares the common goal of helping students reach their highest potential on their path the higher education.

 

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Montecito's Water Rationing Success

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Montecito's Water Rationing Success

The California drought has been gaining attention for quite some time now, and cities across the Golden State have been working to save water and eliminate waste. Santa Barbara and Montecito have been taking drastic measures to ration and conserve water, gaining national attention for the cities' success. The Santa Barbara News-Press' Sara Bush recently reported on the success of the Montecito Water District's water rationing ordinance. Below is a synopsis of Bush's article.

The Montecito Water District (MWD) enacted an ordinance earlier this year to force customers to cut back on water use by 30% or face fines. After receiving information about the severity of the drought and a few tips on how to save water, educated customers went above and beyond the call, with 80% bringing their water usage to or below their allocations in May, and 84% (!) below the allocation in April. Many believe Montecitians will simply write a check to pay a fine, in order to keep their rolling lawns lush, but experts were astounded by the efforts residents were putting in.

The MWD's Thomas Mosby has been contacted by major national news outlets such as CBS and NBC to discuss the strategy which has garnered so much success in such a small timeframe. Mr. Mosby advises people to read their water meters every two or three days, and avoid leaving properties (and irrigation systems!) unattended for long periods of time.

For more information on the water emergency in Montecito, and how you can help conserve water and lower your water bill, check out the MWD website.

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Christie's International Real Estate CEO Talks to The NYT

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Christie's International Real Estate CEO Talks to The NYT

Village Properties is the exclusive Christie's International Real Estate affiliate in the Santa Barbara market. Recently, Christie's CEO Bonnie Stone Sellers spoke to the New York Times about the future of the powerhouse company, and how it's success is driven by the success of the affiliates.

Ms. Sellers is the chief executive of Christie’s International Real Estate, the New York-based division of the auction houseChristie’s. The company has 138 real estate affiliates in 45 countries, including Brown Harris Stevens.

Before joining Christie’s in September 2012, she served as the head of the real estate group at McKinsey & Company, where she was a partner for 14 years.

Interview conducted and condensed by VIVIAN MARINO

Q. How does the New York market factor into the overall business at Christie’s International?

A. There isn’t any one affiliate that is that major a factor, but New York is a very important location for us. A lot of our major transactions are in the New York market. Since I’ve been with Christie’s International Real Estate, our network’s biggest transaction in New York City was through our affiliate Brown Harris Stevens: an $88 million apartment at 15 Central Park West bought by a Russian oligarch in 2012.

Q. Have you added affiliates since you came to the helm?

A. We’ve added 18 affiliates, some of which are in really key areas — from Singapore to Dubai; Monaco; Orange County, Calif.; Honolulu, just to name a few.

As a result of this and as a result of the strength of the luxury market, our growth has been substantial.

Q. How so?

A. In 2013, we had a sales volume of $106 billion. That reflected a 29 percent growth over the previous year of about $82 billion.

Q. What is your forecast for this year?

A. We’re looking for a bigger number.

Q. Your company recently published its second annual study of the global luxury market. Any surprises?

A. The big surprise for us was the velocity of sales. We had no idea that the growth in the luxury market was related to the volume of sales, in particular, rather than the increase of prices. The second big “aha!” to us in our research — and we do all the research ourselves, by the way — was that luxury real estate has no relationship to general housing. It bears a very close relationship to luxury goods, particularly fine art. And if you look at how well the auction house did this past year, it kind of proves the point. Many have multiple pieces of art, and multiple homes.

Q. Are there just more rich people around?

A. There are a lot more rich people, and the rich people have more wealth — this had been in many public reports. But to us, we see three groups driving this.

The first group that everyone hears about is the foreigners. They invest in London and the United States and they do that to have a safe place for their capital, a place where they can eventually live when they want to send their children to school; a place that has ease of access — a lifestyle city.

A second group are the millennials. This is a generation that for the first time is receiving money from their baby-boomer parents or perhaps they were in the tech area and they’ve earned their own money. They’re becoming a noticeable force in the market.

But the third group — the real driver — is the locals. And this is not just focused on New York but all the major cities we’ve looked at. The locals were on the sidelines during the recession and they’ve now come back with their pent-up demand and they’re fueling the growth of the lowest end of the luxury market — $1 million to $5 million — because finances are available and they have confidence.

Q. In the New York market, $1 million isn’t really considered luxury.

A. We actually agree with you. In the New York market, we define luxury as $5 million and above. But for our network globally, we only handle properties starting at $1 million.

Q. So if I wanted to list a home for under $1 million, you wouldn’t market it?

A. Our affiliates may take it, but not under the Christie’s network.

Q. Are you working directly with any big developments?

A. You caught us just before we announced the business — we’re going to be launching it this summer.

One of the new initiatives this year is to create a business in development project marketing. We have three projects under our belt already. The one we are about to launch is in Sardinia; we also have two projects in London.

Q. Where would you like to see the company in the next few years?

A. We have some bold aspirations in the next five to 10 years. First: geographic expansion. We need to be in every major luxury city in the world, and there are still a few that we haven’t yet tackled. There are several in Asia that we’re testing the waters on right now — for example, Tokyo.

I’d like to deepen synergies with the auction house. This year we had the opportunity to market and sell the properties of Huguette Clark. She died, a copper heiress, with four properties in the New York area — three on Fifth Avenue, sold together with our affiliate Brown Harris Stevens — and one in Connecticut. In addition, we sold a lot of the art in the homes, jewelry and in the most recent auction, the Monet “Water Lilies.” So it came full circle: the art and the real estate together. It was a perfect synergy.

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Montecito's Largest Real Estate Sale of the Year

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Montecito's Largest Real Estate Sale of the Year

 Santa Barbara’s top real estate team, Riskin Associates of Village Properties Realtors, exclusively affiliated with Christie’s International Real Estate, was the listing agent for the highest priced residential sale of 2014 thus far. Commanding a list price of $28,000,000 the approx. 3-acre Fernald Point property included 300+/- feet of sandy beach frontage and coastal views spanning from Carpinteria to the Santa Barbara Harbor. The property closed escrow in late April, marking the beginning of a market pick up in the high end. Luxury real estate markets in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York and London have been booming for a few years now. “During that time the high end market in Santa Barbara and Montecito was relatively slow. Recently, we've seen a nice pick up in sales over $7M” says Riskin Associates Partner Dina Landi, “But we still have a lot of inventory.”

The staggering sale on Fernald Point contributes to Riskin Associates’ impressive sales total, so far this year the team has closed over $70 million dollars in luxury real estate transactions. On top of their closed 2014 transactions, the team has a number of additional high-end properties currently in escrow, ranging from $7,950,000 to $14,900,000. This recent shift in the market has the team at their busiest since 2012, when they totaled over $225 million in sales for the year.

Their unique team approach allows Riskin Associates partner’s Rebecca Riskin, Sarah Kelly and Dina Landi to always be available. “During a hot market, working as a team allows us to maintain an unparalleled level of service, with attention to every detail and anticipation of every client’s need" says Rebecca. Clients appreciate the team’s intimate involvement with every aspect of a transaction.

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Vacation Homes: Protecting Your Property and Yourself

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Vacation Homes: Protecting Your Property and Yourself

If you simply do not have the good fortune of calling Montecito or Santa Barbara "home" year-round, purchasing a vacation property to lure you to  this casually luxurious, coastal paradise as often as possible is the next best thing. Recently, Zillow released an article detailing a number of ways to protect your second home when you are not there to enjoy it. Below, Riskin Associates tailors these steps to the Montecito/Santa Barbara area  for an quick and informative read.

Ocean view terrace in a Santa Barbara home
Ocean view terrace in a Santa Barbara home

Homeowners Insurance Policies:

  • The policy on your primary residence may not cover all of the personal property in your second home. While many standard policies will cover a portion of the belongings, it is important to check with your provider as to the extent of that coverage.
  • Taking out a mortgage on your second home will likely require you to purchase a second homeowners insurance policy. Be sure that this policy is covering a vacation home, as unique risks of such properties should be outlined and covered. Below are a number of these unique risks.

Location:

  • Oceanfront parcels are undoubtedly a desirable location for a vacation home. However, close frequent hurricanes can often cause flooding, which is usually not covered by your insurance policy. Fortunately, Montecito and Santa Barbara do not experience tropical storms with any regularity. However, the Santa Ynez Mountains are literally in the backyards of many Montecito estates while fires do not present danger frequently, fire insurance is highly encouraged.
  • Earthquake concerns do tend to come up for many out of the area buyers. Earth quakes do happen occasionally in the southern California area, earthquake insurance is another option for homeowners to protect themselves and their properties. Riskin Associates provides buyers with an in depth booklet detailing the risks of earthquake damage and the many ways to protect your home.

Vacancy Vulnerabilities:

  • Vacation homes are often left vacant for much of year. This can leave homeowners at risk for unnoticed electrical fire, pipe flooding or theft. Renting your home to tenants during your absence is a great way to ensure your property is cared for. Another way to protect your home is to ensure that your insurance coverage lines up with the current replacement cost of your home. Finally, have a professional inspect the major systems in your home (plumbing, electrical etc.) to ensure that these systems are up to date and in good condition.

Leasing Liabilities: 

  • Should you decide to lease your home to tenants to avoid leaving it vacant, there are a number of precautions to take. Homeowners insurance may cover incidentals and personal injury of tenants if you rent out your home only occasionally and for short periods of time, if you plan to rent your home for longer than four weeks, consider landlords insurance to cover a wide range of circumstances. Also, take the extra steps to conduct background checks on potential tenants, draft lease agreements or purchase an umbrella insurance policy.

Owning a vacation property in Montecito or Santa Barbara offers a lifetime of memories with family and friends in one of the west coast's most coveted locales. If you are purchasing a home in the area for the first time, working with a team of real estate agents who hold an intimate understanding of this niche market is crucial, particularly when navigating the myriad of intricacies vacation homes can present.

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Local Showcase: Santa Barbara Artist Lisa Pedersen

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Local Showcase: Santa Barbara Artist Lisa Pedersen

As Santa Barbara's top real estate team for over a decade, Riskin Associates has the pleasure of representing many fabulous clients. Currently, local Santa Barbara artist Lisa Pedersen, happens to be one of them. Pedersen, who lives in a quintessential andalusian estate in Santa Barbara's Riveira, has been an artist her entire life and began painting professionally at the encouragement of friend and fellow painter John Brosio. Living on the Southern California coast offers endless opportunity for inspiration. Using water based oil paint, Lisa paints landscapes, architecture and cityscapes up and down the central coast.

Artist Lisa Pedersen art studio in her Santa Barbara Riviera Estate.
Artist Lisa Pedersen art studio in her Santa Barbara Riviera Estate.

Aside from painting, Lisa indulges her artistic and creative energies through other forms of design. After graduating from USC, Lisa went on to UCLA to study architectural and interior design. Lisa lives in one of her most impressive endeavors. The exceptional residence in Santa Barbara's Riviera is an incredible example of Lisa's finely tuned creativity. Together with her father, Harlan Pedersen and builder Ken Rideout, Lisa restored a magical estate, circa 1939, to perfection.

Lisa's romantic vision, realized in 2004, includes custom designed kitchen tiles designed to emulate those in the historic Santa Barbara Courthouse, rich wood floors and beamed ceilings. Ocean and mountain views have been captured throughout via French doors, Juliette balconies and intimate patios. A jewel among jewels, a fantastic space has been utilized as an inspiring artists' studio. A south-facing ocean view terrace is matched by French doors framing mountain views to the north.

As enchanting as the residence is, the estate grounds are an idyllic complement. Pathways wind through blooming rose gardens, lush lawns and vine-covered pergolas. A bocce ball court, hidden tree house and sensational Mediterranean pool garden await discovery and take thorough enjoyment of Santa Barbara's enviable year round climate.

To experience Lisa's repertoire of work, visit Porch in nearby Carpinteria where an exhibition features Lisa's work throughout the month of May. Riskin Associates Partner joined Pedersen at Porch for the exhibition opening.For further information of Lisa's romantic and enchanting estate, contact Riskin Associates.

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Synopsis: Luxury Consumer Survey

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Synopsis: Luxury Consumer Survey

Realtor.com has released the results of their most recent survey of luxury home buyers, reporting on purchase motivations, amenity priorities and expectations. The numbers are encouraging, with 13% of home buyers looking to buy a luxury home and 26% considering a high-end luxury home. In the niche markets of Santa Barbara and Montecito, properties priced over $1M are considered luxury properties. The report also states that with such a large portion of homebuyers searching for high-end homes, trends in the entire market are being driven by the luxury sector.

A number of factors are motivating luxury homebuyers to make a move, chief among them being recent career success (19%) followed by retirement (17%). Investment and first time home buying were also catalysts to entering the housing market. Challenges homebuyers reported when shopping for a high end home were expected. Challenges included finding a property to meet family needs (40%), a limited inventory (20%) and access to mortgage loans (8%).

Buyers were also questioned on the most desirable amenities and what was the most important features of a home. Chef's kitchens were the most desirable with 54% of homebuyers listing a fabulous kitchen as their top priority. That million dollar view! Second on the list of desired features was a beautiful view (44%) particularly of an ocean, the mountains or cityscapes. Size also matters. Square footage (38%) and a large master suite (36%) also made the list. Resale value was also taken into consideration with 36% of buyers indicating resale value as "very important" and 27% feeling resale value was "extremely important."

For a further breakdown of luxury home buyers and information on homebuyers not looking for luxury real estate, view the full Realtor.com report.

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Six Insights into the Selling Season

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Six Insights into the Selling Season

The weather forecast isn't the only telltale sign that Spring is in full swing here in Santa Barbara. It is 80 degrees and sunny this week and the housing market seems to be equally hot with the unwritten real estate law "Spring is the best time to sell a home" being fully enforced. With so much activity in the market, Riskin Associates would like to educate our clients and readers with some insights into the current state of the market.

This quintessential Santa Barbara home offers the coveted, coastal lifestyle with ocean and mountain views and an enchanting landscape.
This quintessential Santa Barbara home offers the coveted, coastal lifestyle with ocean and mountain views and an enchanting landscape.

Firstly, the long, cold winter is finally over. The Polar Vortex quite literally froze the market and as the East and North East melts back into action, buyers are ready (and more motivated thane ever!) to relocate or purchase second residences in sunny California. Additionally, the rule rings true that spring and summer are THE time of year for real estate transactions. According to Trulia.com, sixty percent of all homes will be bought and sold between May and August in 2014.

Pricing is important. Consider it a bit of a reflection on the obvious, but pricing your property appropriately is still considered one of the chief factors in getting it sold quickly. While we have seen price increases into the double digits over the past year, the first quarter of 2014 did not reflect these increases. Trulia.com suggests closely considering comps of other homes in the area and trusting the expertise of the listing agent. Also, keep recency in mind. For luxury homes, give recently sold comps more weight than older sales. The more recent a sale, the more accurate picture it paints of the current market. A hot market often brings fears of the dreaded bidding war. But fear not, statistics are showing that bidding wars are not as common as they were last year.

Another suggestion for grabbing a quick sale is to list your home earlier rather than later. Many homes will come on the market in late May and early June. Listing your home before the "rush" will give it a chance to shine as a new listing and get the attention and activity it deserves. Have your home ready to market before listing it the MLS and keep it in show condition so short notice requests will be easily accommodated.

Marketing a listing appropriately is key. A good team of agents will offer five star marketing services and will ensure your home is as attractive as possible to the buyers browsing the web for homes for sale. Riskin Associates employs a full time marketing staff. Having this manpower gives the Riskin Associates team the ability to create high-definition showcase videos, pitch listings to a network of public relations connections and design custom marketing strategies for each of their special listings.

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Spring Seller's Season Hits the West Coast

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Spring Seller's Season Hits the West Coast

What does spring bring? Not enough rain, but certainly a flurry of activity in California real estate markets. As we enjoy endless sun and soft spring breezes, (and secretly hope for some more rain to quench our partched soils) we also enjoy what the L.A. Times is calling a Seller's Season here in the Golden State. Discussing Zillow's latest report, the LA Times defines the east coast as a "buyer's market" with many price cuts and lengthy DOMs, and the west coast going to the Seller's with quick transactions, multiple offers, few price reductions and many properties selling at or over asking price. Riskin Associates can attest to this view with regards to Santa Barbara's wealthy yet casual neighbor, Montecito. Despite new listings coming on the market what seems to be daily, inventory is remaining relatively stable as many listings are receiving multiple, very strong offers and opening escrow quickly. Other California markets seeing seller's holding the negotiation power are San Jose and San Francisco. Buyers on the otherhand can do well in the midwest and Northeast, try Cleveland or Philidelphia.

This Spanish Revival Compound overlooks lush grounds and brilliant ocean views.
This Spanish Revival Compound overlooks lush grounds and brilliant ocean views.

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Montecito, California: Niche Market Report

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Montecito, California: Niche Market Report

In recent weeks, the housing market has been at the forefront of the headlines, with major metropolitan markets booming. From London to New York to L.A. the big city areas are experiencing a fantastic upswing in transactions and foreign influences. Niche markets, such as Montecito and Santa Barbara are also experiencing a surge, however the specifics are decidedly unique.

One of the Montecito market's niche characteristics is that many homeowners own multiple residences and spend a portion of their time living or vacationing in their Montecito homes. Many buyers come from within the U.S., many East Coast and Mid-Westerners. Internationally, the U.K. has a firm presence and we do not experience the high influx of Asian, Russian or Canadian buyers that the larger markets are seeing.

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588Freehaven_TwilExt_

In Montecito, over 60% of homes are priced above $1M with the luxury price range starting around $7M. The under $2M price range is robust, many desireable properties receive multiple offers. The mid-range, $3M-7M is also steady with low inventory and a relatively high demand. The luxury market is somewhat slower. Inventory is saturated but we are not seeing the demand. The high-end market is experiencing a shortage in demand, inventory is steady however we are lacking in buyers. Prices are still down from 2007 but have held steady over the last 12 months.

In niche markets, "luxury" or "high-end" properties are often defined differently, with certain amenities demanding a premium. Montecito's unique location, between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, provides idyllic coastal views - which high-end buyers covet. Most luxury buyers want an ocean-view, turn-key property with a close-in location. Being within the prestigious Montecito Union School Distict and Montecito's "Golden Quadrangle" is another desirable factor of location, near to The Upper Village shops and restaurants and the world renouned San Ysidro Ranch resort. Picacho Lane, Park Lane and Riven Rock Road are considered first class streets.

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