Viewing entries tagged
real estate

Santa Barbara: Sunset Magazine's #1 Beach Town

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Santa Barbara: Sunset Magazine's #1 Beach Town

13 Western states, British Columbia, and Alberta duked it out for Sunset magazine's first annual Travel Awards, which "recognize achievement in lodging, dining, cultural tourism, outdoor adventure, environmental stewardship, and other categories." The magazine solicited nomination entries for a variety of categories, and from there an array of teams, judges and advisory boards deliberated the winners. Judges included tourism directors, authors of travel books and resort CEOs, so opinions were legitimately sourced.

And the winner for Best Beach Town? Drum roll, please... SANTA BARBARA! It is a great distinction to be recognized in a magazine that specifically showcases the ultimate Western lifestyle. From world renown surf spots such as Rincon, vibrant night life on State Street and unique scenery, to a rich Spanish history and culture, and wine-tasting in Santa Ynez, it seems we hit all the checkboxes for an ideal coastal lifestyle. It's no wonder everyone here is happy as a clam! What more could you ask for?

If you're looking for some ideas regarding fun things to do in Santa Barbara, check out our Local's Guide blog by clicking here. We also have a list of local favorites where you may find Riskin Partner's best picks in food, wine, home needs, golf courses and more. Don't forget that FIESTA! begins next week so be sure to participate in the weekend activities to celebrate our awesome community!

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Calling All Open House Lovers!

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Calling All Open House Lovers!

Riskin Partners is pleased to announce the newest addition to our website:

An online open house directory for Montecito and Santa Barbara!

These directories will automatically update with any open house changes or additions, rendering it a convenient and reliable resource for all those house hunters looking for an incredible property. Users may also filter results and view listing details at their convenience. What are you waiting for? Take a look!

Click Here to View All Montecito Open Houses

Click Here to View All Santa Barbara Open Houses

RP open houses this weekend include:

705 Park Lane - open Sunday, 7/26 2 - 4 PM offered at $4,595,000

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709 Park Lane - open Sunday, 7/26 2 - 4 PM Offered at $3,750,000

An inviting pool and verdant grounds accompany a bright and pristine 3bd/3.5ba residence at one of Montecito's best addresses.
An inviting pool and verdant grounds accompany a bright and pristine 3bd/3.5ba residence at one of Montecito's best addresses.

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A Local's Guide to Santa Barbara

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A Local's Guide to Santa Barbara

Clear skies and idyllic weather are common here in Santa Barbara and Montecito and now that summer has officially arrived, the locals are increasingly out and about. Fortunately for those who are lucky enough to visit, or even call this place home, there is an impressive array of opportunities to adventure, relax, dine, or anything else your soul desires. If you're yearning to discover unique and high quality places, click here to view a great article by goop.com, which details a variety of wonderful destinations. All of us here at Riskin Partners also have our favorite picks, so check out the list below for a small sampling of all that Santa Barbara has to offer. If you're feeling especially enticed, maybe moving here or buying a second home is in your future! For the full list of our Local Favorites, from real estate needs to lifestyle suggestions, visit the Riskin Partners website here.

Accommodations - The Four Seasons Biltmore, Montecito

For a peaceful and relaxing stay, this 5-star luxury hotel is located adjacent to the beautiful Butterfly Beach. In classic California style, they "invite guests to indulge in everything from tours of local wineries to surfing, lazing on the beach or lounging poolside at the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club." Relax and be treated at the Santa Barbara Spa, dine at the ocean-view Bella Vista restaurant, or even book a surf session with surfing legend Tom Curren. Find Sara Thandi here on any holiday with her family, this is her favorite place to grab some brunch!

Adventure - Inspiration Point Hike, Santa Barbara

A great workout with some serious views - Inspiration Point is a classic Santa Barbara hike that will having you feeling motivated once you reach the top. Winding through the stunning Santa Ynez mountains, this 3.5-mile round trip hike is best enxperienced at sunrise or sunset. If you enjoy this one, Rebecca, an avid hiker, also suggests trying the San Ysidro trail.

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Site-seeing & Architecture - Rose Garden at the Old Mission, Santa Barbara

With such a rich history, there are a wealth of landmarks and stunning Spanish Revival style architecture throughout the city which should not be missed. Among the Santa Barbara Courthouse (known by many as the most beautiful public building in the country) and its gorgeous sunken gardens, Meridian Studios, and other iconic buildings, the Old Santa Barbara Mission will always remain a classic. Take Robert's advice: grab a blanket, some wine and outdoor games, and have a picnic next to the Mission's blooming rose garden. A retreat like this is best enjoyed if you bring some friends along!

Mid-day Dining -The Santa Barbara Public Market, Santa Barbara

For just over a year now, the Public Market has been host to an array of purveyors - priding itself in "handcrafted, regionally sourced and sustainably made food and wine." Whether you're looking for Crazy Good Bread, a quality cup of joe, delicious seafood, fresh-made pasta, or a glass of wine, the Public Market has it all. If you're feeling like working on your culinary artistry or need to host an event, their Kitchen serves as a commissary and event space. According to Marie, the Market is a great place to meet with friends because there is something for everyone, but her top pick is the potato gnocchi at the Pasta Shoppe. Pair with a flight of wine at the tasting bar for a delicious Italian meal...you definitely will not be disappointed.

Live Music - The Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara

Set on a hillside overlooking Santa Barbara, the Bowl is a historic amphitheater circa 1936 with striking views - a true landmark of the area. It has been host to some of the biggest names in the music industry including Bob Marley, Santana, Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Steely Dan, and Sting, just to name a few. The intimate venue also hosts a variety of up and coming artists, so all types of music fans can rock out. Upcoming shows include Aerosmith on July 7thAretha Franklin on August 6th, the Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival on August 8th and the Alabama Shakes on August 18th. Live music has always been a big part of Jasmine's life, her husband is even in a band called Surprise Me (vote for them here to help them have an opportunity to play at Summerfest in Wisconsin!). Of all the music venues she has been to, she claims that the Bowl is by far the most beautiful.

Dinner - The Lark, Santa Barbara

We L.O.V.E. the Lark! This family-style restaurant serves "locally sourced and responsibly grown" meals, which are incredibly fresh and delectable. Try the roasted beets and burrata, the marinated grill & hangar steak, the herb roasted diver scallops, or even their famous brussel sprouts - everything on their seasonal menu is simply divine. Sarah Kelly advises that if you're looking to grab a cocktail on a weekend night, this is the place to be. The bone marrow crusted beef cheeks and Mary's roasted chicken are her favorite picks on this menu.

Wine Tasting - The Funk Zone, Santa Barbara

The Funk Zone is a hip, arts, business, and industrial district close to State Street and the Santa Barbara harbor. Here you may find over 10 wine tasting rooms and a variety of studios, galleries, surf shops, and restaurants (including The Lark)! All within walking distance to each other, the Funk Zone makes for a lovely night on the town. Make sure to check out Pali Wine CoCorks N Crowns, and Dina's favorite, Les Marchands Wine Bar and Marchant, where she recently celebrated her engagement! Fun Fact: the owner, Brian McClintic was featured in the popular wine documentary called SOMM, "which chronicled his journey to the elusive Master Sommelier title."

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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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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
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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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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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Summer Fun in Santa Barbara! Downtown Art and Wine Tour

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Summer Fun in Santa Barbara! Downtown Art and Wine Tour

Santa Barbara Downtown Art and Wine Tour
Santa Barbara Downtown Art and Wine Tour

Everyone knows that summer is everyone's favorite season, and in Santa Barbara summer seems to last all year. But come the month of May, a shift can be felt in our fresh coastal air and there is a distinctive feeling that summer fun is about to be kicked into high gear. Summer events seem to happen weekly in Santa Barbara from cultural celebrations such as the Solstice Festival and the Old Spanish Days to beer tasting at the Santa Barbara Zoo's ZooBrew! event and everything in between, there is no shortage of opportunities for casual family fun and upscale socializing.

The long weekend kicks off this Thursday with the annual Downtown Art and Wine Tour. The self-guided tour, which begins at 5:30, invites participants to meander through retailers, galleries and restaurants experiencing the works of local artists, vintners and chefs, on their way to the tour's Final Party at the Santa Barbara Club. Feasting on hors d'oeuvres and sipping wine or beer, party goers will eat, drink and dance the night away in celebration of all that Santa Barbara's Downtown District has to offer.

Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased online, at the Downtown Organization office or at the box office of the Arlington Theater.

Arlington Theatre Box Office 1317 State Street Monday – Saturday: 10am-6pm, Sunday: 10am-4pm (805) 963-4408 (credit card or cash + $2.50 surcharge per ticket)

Downtown Santa Barbara Office 27-B East de la Guerra Street Monday – Friday: 9am-4pm (cash, check, Visa and Master Card)

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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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How to Do Well In a Drought

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How to Do Well In a Drought

California is dry, and thirsty. Perhaps the driest and most thirsty the state has been in a century. With the state recently declaring the situation a "drought emergency," we wanted to educate our readers on the benefits of owning a home with a private well.

A luxurious Montecito estate
A luxurious Montecito estate

Firstly, and most appropriately, private wells are often excluded from municipal water bans. During times of drought or water conservation, a private well would allow homeowners to continue with their normal water usage and lifestyle, experiencing limited interruptions.

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, is the absence of a water bill. Drawing the water directly from the ground, rather than being tracked by a meter, allows homeowners to rid themselves of water bills every month or, if well water is used only for landscape or agriculture, would significantly reduce the amount paid each month for municipal water.

Below indulge in some real estate eye candy. These luxury properties all include private wells.

An expansive French Provincial estate in Montecito with ocean and mountain views.
An expansive French Provincial estate in Montecito with ocean and mountain views.

690 Picacho Lane, Montecito, Ca

Offered at $27,000,000

9 acres with orchards, vegetable gardens and lake

Private well

Riskin Associates, 805.565.8600 or associates@riskinproperties.com

Ocean view Mediterranean estate in montecito, ca
Ocean view Mediterranean estate in montecito, ca

588 Freehaven Drive, Montecito, Ca

Offered at $14,900,000

Approx. 20 ocean and mountain-view acres

Private well

Riskin Associates, 805.565.8600 or associates@riskinproperties.com

1140 East Mountain Drive, Montecito, Ca

Offered at 9,875,000

6 acres with manicured rose gardens, lush lawns and oak trees

Shared private irrigation well

Riskin Associates, 805.565.8600 or associates@riskinproperties.com

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The Negative Impact of Celebrity on Real Estate

A Santa Barbara Ocean view estate.
A Santa Barbara Ocean view estate.

Modern media revolves around celebrity and the personal lives of high-profile individuals, and is no different for the buying and selling of residential real estate. The media loves to know when a public figure is listing their property or in negotiations for purchasing a new abode. And as is usual in the world of celebrities, the more the media wants to know, the less they are willing to share. Celebrities go to great lengths in order to protect the privacy of their personal lives and their homes as possible, and as an article by MainStreet.com argues, often to the detriment of future resale values. The article discusses several elements that celebrities find attractive in their homes, but can be too personal for future buyers to identify with.

While exposing the name of a famous owner can get a listing extended exposure, a dream come true from a marketing standpoint, a well-known listing can also be seen as a negative by some high-end buyers. A buyer may not want to purchase a home which has gotten a lot of press due to a well-known seller being attached to the property. This also goes for high-rise apartment complexes and gated communities. Having a high-profile neighbor attracting paparazzi attention may be a negative attribute of a home or apartment driving buyers away.

Customization of a home, while usually a huge selling point, can often be overdone by celebrities making the home too personal to them, making it difficult for buyers to see themselves living in a home. While a star athlete may want an indoor sport court with their jersey number splashed across the court, or a young movie star may love the idea of a private bowling alley in their own home, a buyer may find these amenities disarming and be off-put by the home as a result.

While celebrity and fame do have positive attributes for real estate from a marketing standpoint, often the attention this garners can be viewed as negative to buyers.

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Five Forces Behind the Luxury Real Estate Boom

As 2013 comes to a close, The Financial Times reflects on five reasons the luxury real estate market has seen a promising upswing over the last 12 months. Compared to the U.S. as a whole, the luxury market has experienced a superior recovery from the housing market bust with home prices in the top 5% increasing by as much as 10% since September of 2012 while the other 95% increased 6% over the same time frame. Read on to find out what has fueled this healthy boost in the luxury market.

  • The increase in wealth. While everyone the world over is rejoicing in the recovering U.S. economic conditions, high-net-worth individuals are doing a decidedly more vigorous celebration dance. Recent data has revealed that the top 1% of households by income has captured 95% of the income gains between 2009-2012. Larger stock portfolios held by these high income individuals have benefitted from a booming stock market. The wealthy are searching for homes to fit their lavish lifestyle and are less likely to let interest rate increases dissuade their buying choices. In addition to these staggering numbers, the remaining 90% of the country has experienced fallen incomes by 16%.
  • Affordable (Oversized) mortgages.   It's no secret that cash is king in the luxury real estate market, but when a mortgage is needed, they are accessible at historically low rates. Larger loans (usually $625,000 in high-cost areas) were generally more expensive and had stricter requirements than conforming loans, but recently have become more in line with conforming loans in terms of affordability and screening requirements. Another factor is the tax break, interest on loans can be written off up to $1M.
  • Foreign buyers. The media has been reporting a sharp increase in purchases by foreign buyers. From Europeans to Asians, buyers are coming in from outside the U.S. with a sense of urgency to buy. Metropolitan cities like Miami, L.A. and Honolulu have seen the largest upswing in purchases by foreign buyers.
  • New construction is back. For several years after the market downturn, new construction of luxury properties was virtually nonexistent. But contractors are getting back in the game as inventory continues to stay low despite an ever increasing demand. The country's largest builder of luxury homes, Toll Brothers, have increased signed contracts by 23% in dollars and 6% in units in the fiscal fourth quarter. Co-founder of Toll Brothers Robert I. Tolls discusses the current state of the luxury home building market and it's relationship to the overall luxury real estate market, "The supply of luxury homes is still not meeting current demand, let alone the pent-up demand of the last seven years. This supply constraint could lead to a further escalation in luxury home prices above and beyond normal trends until industry production returns to historic equilibrium.”
  • Existing homeowners are trading up. First-time homebuyers are not the sector fueling the increase in luxury home market increase - existing homeowners are coming up from beneath the water, now having the ability to sell their homes and move to larger, more expensive residences. According to The Financial Times article, more than 85% of homeowners with a mortgage in the second quarter have some equity in their homes, this number up from 75% in 2011. Low inventory is allowing trade-up buyers an easier time selling their current home.

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Holiday Gift Guide: The Gentleman's Wishlist

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forhim13

Looking to impress the man in your life with the IT gift of the year? Fear not as 2013 did not disappoint, with a list of exclusive gifts and gadgets from luxury electronics to designer accessories certain to delight the most distinguished gentleman! Read on to find the area's most lusted-after wishlist.

1. Sonos Wireless Music System.Santa Barbara electronics company Sonos has quickly become a household name with its line-up of high-tech sound systems. Hifi speakers and audio components distribute your music collection throughout the home, allowing you to create a unique atmosphere for each room by customizing the soundtrack - controlling the entire system from your preferred device. Find it at Santa Barbara's Home Integrated Technology. (Play:5+Bridge Gift Pack, $399).

2. Louis Vuitton Steeve Men's Bag.Louis Vuitton's coveted trademark checkerboard design adorns this stylish and functional men's bag. For business or pleasure, the versatile bag holds all the important possessions to take your man from the boardroom to the gym and from the gym to dinner without a stop in between. Find this fashionable gift at La Cumbre Plaza's Louis Vuitton boutique. (Steeve Men's Bag, $2,600)

3. Taka Puna Bespoke Suits. Luxury menswear designer Tom Ford made 2013 the official year of men's made to measure suits. Custom made suits in crafted in the finest textiles is the ultimate in luxury gift giving. Make your man the eye candy of every holiday soiree by outfitting him in a tailor made suit by Santa Barbara's premier bespoke tailor, Taka Puna. (Starting at $1,950).

4. Breaking Bad - Complete Series. Breaking Bad, the men's entertainment obsession of the year. Did your man miss out on the action? Is your TiVo backlogged with saved episodes he watches over and over? Remedy these tragedies with one easy gift - the complete series DVD gift set. Find it on Amazon.com. (New from $470)

5. Burberry The Britain.  Owning a fine timepiece is a symbol of accomplishment and status. Shower the gentleman in your life with praise and show your appreciation for the hard work he puts in all year. The Burberry Automatic Alligator Strap watch is a modern take on the classic Burberry design. Find it at Nordstrom in Santa Barbara's Paseo Nuevo. ($1,995)

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Attention Sellers!

As Riskin Associates, ocean-view estate in Montecito
As Riskin Associates, ocean-view estate in Montecito

The world of residential real estate, especially at the luxury level, can often be a myriad of complex processes which can be difficult to navigate. Additionally, even the smallest of hiccups can cause a deal to fall through. For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced agent or team who has the knowledge to weather any procedural storm. Educating both buyers and sellers on each step of the escrow process - and what's involved - is key to a smooth transaction.

Today, Forbes brings to the table three issues which are regular culprits of a crumbled deal. Understanding why they cause problems and how to avoid them can make or break a seller's deal.

  • Financing. "Back in the day" almost anyone could obtain a loan, however much of that ideology has changed and it is more important than ever for seller's to require a letter of pre-approval from the buyer. But keep in mind, this letter doesn't guarantee that a buyer will get the loan to buy your house. So, as usual, cash is king!
  • Appraisals. Thanks to foreclosures and short sales skewing comps, home appraisals are coming in at significantly lower figures than in the past. How is this a threat to your deal you ask? The answer circles back to our friends the financiers. Lenders will not loan more than a house has been appraised for, meaning that if your house is appraised for lower than the asking or accepted offer price, a buyer requiring financing will not be able to obtain a loan for the required amount - thus taking their offer off the table or requiring the seller to accept a lower offer.
  • Timing. Delaying buyers access to their new home is an overwhelming cause for deal abandonment. Banking, repairs, or lengthy close of escrow can all deter a buyer from moving forward with a deal. It is important to foresee any possible delays before entering escrow to ensure the best probability of closing the deal.

Whether you are a first time seller, or experienced in the process, understand that each deal is unique and presents its own set of potential issues. Taking great care in financial, home and personal preparations, as well as working with an experienced agent, will ensure that the sale of your home is as headache-free as it can possibly be.

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Property of the Week: Legendary Ocean-View Estate in Hope Ranch

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Property of the Week: Legendary Ocean-View Estate in Hope Ranch

Rarely does a property of such prestigious architectural caliber combined with a location offering truly impressive acreage come onto the market. Unlike any other, this unique Hope Ranch estate offers a lifestyle few can attain. Breathtaking ocean views are the backdrop to approximately nine park-like acres, so whimsical and enchanting they could have been painted upon canvas and displayed on gallery walls. A scene realized in 1929, by the great Reginald Davis Johnson, award-wining architect to Santa Barbara's Biltmore hotel, retains its character, mystery and allure today.

An ocean-view estate in Santa Barbara, California offered by Riskin Associates
An ocean-view estate in Santa Barbara, California offered by Riskin Associates

Impressive entry gates open to reveal a meandering oak lined drive spilling with shrubs, flowers and trees, leading to a welcoming motor courtyard. Across an expansive, rolling lawn, the Pacific Ocean glistens, while the fragrant aroma of blossoming rosebuds lingers in the air.

A deluxe Santa Barbara estate offered by Riskin Associates
A deluxe Santa Barbara estate offered by Riskin Associates

Introducing the home’s exquisite character, hand-painted details, original terra cotta floors, and a beamed ceiling adorn the foyer. An impressive galleria connects private and public spaces with elegance and grandeur, graced with a hand-painted barrel ceiling, ornate crown molding and French doors opening to the ocean-view terrace.

Original details adorn each room of this Hope Ranch estate offered by Riskin Associates.
Original details adorn each room of this Hope Ranch estate offered by Riskin Associates.

The generous formal living room is a powerful space, with a soaring pitched beamed ceiling, hand-painted details, an elegant fireplace, a large picture window framing garden views, and French doors revealing the ocean view. A handsome copper bar with a beverage refrigerator and temperature-controlled wine refrigerator complements the space, while French doors providing direct access to the pool courtyard are ideal for entertaining in this magnificent formal living room.

grand formal living room in this Hope Ranch estate.
grand formal living room in this Hope Ranch estate.

The formal dining room encourages the utmost in sophisticated entertaining with a warming fireplace, gallery walls and custom Wendel lighting, ideal for showcasing art. Doors provide privacy for gatherings, separating the space from the extensive and well-appointed butler’s pantry.

Formal dining room in Santa Barbara california
Formal dining room in Santa Barbara california

French doors open the formal dining room to a terrace and the pool. A second set of French doors open to the home’s centerpiece, a delightful and sun-filled courtyard, where a hand painted tile fountain and climbing foliage create the most relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere.

A sunfilled courtyard is the centerpiece to the Santa Barbara estate
A sunfilled courtyard is the centerpiece to the Santa Barbara estate

Outside, the swimmer’s pool is surrounded by vine-covered pergolas, a hedge-lined patio and ample terrace spaces while an ornate tile mural draws the eye towards the spa. Exploring the property’s stone pathways, citrus and avocado trees and rose-covered trellises lead to a mature, aromatic rose garden where the only disruption is a soft, sweet breeze and the charming chirp of native birds.

Pool pavillion in Reginald Johnson Santa Barbara estate.
Pool pavillion in Reginald Johnson Santa Barbara estate.
Fragrant  gardens surround the Santa Barbara estate.
Fragrant gardens surround the Santa Barbara estate.

Privately set away from the main hacienda, a lavish two-bedroom guest house enjoys views of the Pacific Ocean and the property’s immaculate grounds. Beautifully renovated throughout, the guest house features a gourmet kitchen with breakfast bar and top-of-the-line appliances, French doors opening to ocean vistas, a charming fireplace, two luxurious bedroom suites, a patio and ocean view terrace.

The guest house provides additional quarters while entertaining in this Santa Barbara estate.
The guest house provides additional quarters while entertaining in this Santa Barbara estate.

Above a detached three-car garage, a lovely apartment with ocean views is outfitted as a gym with a private massage room. With an eat-in kitchen, featuring a pitched beamed ceiling and Electrolux appliances, and a full bath, the space perfectly doubles as additional guest quarters.

A guest apartment features a gym, full kitchen and bedroom with full bath.
A guest apartment features a gym, full kitchen and bedroom with full bath.

One of Hope Ranch’s original homes, this expansive ocean-view estate is truly unique in both amenities and character.

An ocean view welcomes you to the comfortable terrace.
An ocean view welcomes you to the comfortable terrace.

These impressive features are just the beginning of this incredible Hope Ranch estate. To discover the other secrets Reginald Johnson hid throughout the estate, click here. Or contact Riskin Associates at 805.565.8600 or associates@riskinproperties.com

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3 Ways to Make More Time!

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3 Ways to Make More Time!

Everyone has their own version of a "busy schedule" and while every industry has unique requirements for how much time is needed to put in in order to be successful, the bottom line is we all need more time. Between careers, social lives and personal time, it seems that nearly every hour of the week is blocked off for something and nearly everyone is asking: how can I make more time? As real estate professionals in the busy markets of Montecito and Santa Barbara, here at Riskin Associates, we are constantly in search of ways to carve out more time for get things done.

Last week, Forbes came to our rescue with an article supplying a few useful suggestions for how to better manage our time. Here, we break down their suggestions for you (time saving!) or click here to read the full article.

  • Free time doesn't have to be available time. When you see a block of time in your calendar that hasn't already been dedicated to an event or activity, fight the urge to fill it with the next invitation. Everyone wants to take advantage of worth-while opportunities, but saying no in order to leave a Wednesday evening or Saturday afternoon open in the calendar will allow you to recharge your batteries and take time for yourself. Being committed to another event doesn't have to be the only reason to turn down an invitation.
  • Put it on the calendar. Yes, you read that correctly. And as oxymoronic as it sounds, filling your calendar will allow you to get more things done. Here's the catch, fill your calendar with the tasks that should get done every day/week/month and put them on the schedule for the next three months. If it isn't on the calendar it won't get done. Are weekday exercise sessions routinely pushed to the bottom of your list in favor of that early morning conference call? Do personal administrative tasks (bill paying, trip planning etc.) get put on the back burner due to networking events? Schedule time for these tasks for the next 2-3 months. The time doesn't have to be set in stone, but if time is allotted for these tasks early, you can easily move them as needed. Just be sure to move them, not remove them from the calendar.
  • Get this: Sometimes time is more valuable than money. Do you despise the time you feel is wasted by cooking meals and washing dishes every night? Doing laundry on the weekends? In some cases, forking out the extra money in order to save time is well worth it. Eliminated stress, completing more important or urgent tasks, and allowing more time for relaxation are all worth the price difference in paying for a meal delivery system or housekeeper to help with cleaning and laundry. They say 'time is money' but maybe they could be saying 'money makes time.'

With some new insight into how to find more time in your schedule, do an experiment on time management. Follow these suggestions and let us know if you found these tips helpful!

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Indian Government Bans Purchase of Foreign Property

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Indian Government Bans Purchase of Foreign Property

The business of buying and selling residential real estate is becoming an increasingly global industry. Many buyers of residential properties are using foreign money to purchase property both in the U.S. and around the world. However, the recent surge in property purchases by international buyers may lead to some unforeseen repercussions.  For example, the Indian government has taken an a series of interesting actions which could affect the global housing market. In recent years, Indian residents have invested heavily in foreign real estate, purchasing rental properties to secure income for their families and relatives or for their own use while visiting the country. Indians have had a such a heavy influence, that in recent years they were among the top five buyers by country of origin in the U.S. Purchasing U.S. homes of an average price of $300,000, with 21% of these purchases made in all cash.  Additionally, Indians were the number one purchasers of property in Dubai. What prompted such a dramatic decision by the Indian government? The answer is quite simple, keep the money in the country. In an effort to balance the strength of the Indian rupee against foreign currencies, the Indian government aims to increase the local exchange of currency, rather than seeing funds generated in India spent outside of the country. With such a large percentage of foreign buyers eliminated by the new law, housing markets around the world may feel the effects, in the form of decreased home sales.

This new global development could quite possibly have major repercussions for real estate markets around the world. For more information, please click here to view an article posted on World Property Channel.

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Weekend Food, Fun & Sun in Santa Barbara!!

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Weekend Food, Fun & Sun in Santa Barbara!!

The SOL Food Festival in Santa Barbara has fun for the whole family!
The SOL Food Festival in Santa Barbara has fun for the whole family!

Santa Barbara is renowned for it's stretches of sandy beaches, exciting events such as the SB International Film Festival and of course, it's profusion of delectable culinary offerings. But restaurants and cafes aren't the only spots in Santa Barbara you will find food and fun combined! Santa Barbara residents and visitors regularly enjoy festivals and celebrations that prove to be a feast for all the senses! Santa Barbara offers year-round opportunities to appreciate the beautiful bounty of the area. From the Solstice Festival in June to Octoberfest fun, and lets not forget the annual Holiday Parade, each season has it's own way of partaking in the excitement! As we head into the fall season (which, in Santa Barbara, bares a striking resemblance to Summer) harvest fun is  everywhere! This Saturday, the SOL Food Festival will pay tribute to local farmers, chefs, and organizations  throughout SB County. The festival, which will be held at Plaza Vera Cruz Park on Santa Barbara street between Cota  and Haley Streets, will feature several different stages each boasting their own theme such as Making Change Stage  and Hands On Kitchen Stage. We've included the festival map to the left! Bring the family out to Plaza Vera Cruz Park for a day of fun, food, music and of course, Santa Barbara sun!

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company Figtober Fest
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company Figtober Fest

Another way to enjoy the beauty of Santa Barbara's fine offerings is directed to our adult residents and visitors. The new "it" locale for laid-back dining and drinking is Santa Barbara's up and coming neighborhood, lovingly referred to as The Funk Zone. This area of SB was once known for its industrial atmosphere, but star chefs, breweries and sommeliers are breathing new life into the area, giving it a relaxed yet stylish feel. New restaurants and tasting rooms are popping up what seems to be weekly, and the activity is getting everyone's attention.

This weekend, Santa Barbara County favorite Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company is hosting FigtoberFest in two locations, Buellton and the Santa Barbara Funk Zone. The Funk Zone location will feature beer tastings, guest breweries, wine tastings, food trucks, live music and costume contests! In keeping with the Oktoberfest spirit, traditional German garb is encouraged!!

Sunday, work (or watch) off your food/beer coma by heading down to West Beach and take in the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, going on Friday - Sunday. Click here to buy your tickets to the action!!

Riskin Associates invites you to visit Santa Barbara and get a taste of what everyday life is like in paradise!

AVP
AVP

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The Luxury Market Goes To The Young and the Wealthy!

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The Luxury Market Goes To The Young and the Wealthy!

The National Association of Realtors has reported on a very intriguing study conducted by the Luxury Institute, which found those who are driving the luxury real estate market are not those middle-aged CEO's but younger buyers with a fresh take on what is "in" in luxury real estate. Looking at young buyers aged 21 or older with a minimum income of $250,000, the survey concludes that these young buyers are willing to pay more than buyers of similar wealth but aged over 55. On average, young buyers spent over $2 million on their most recent residential property purchase which was almost twice as much as older buyers spent! The article by RealtorMag quotes the CEO of the Luxury Institute: “Luxury homes are for more than successful and retired empty nesters,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “Today’s luxury buyer is both dynamic and diverse, and it’s reflected in the homes and products they’re buying.”

However, it's not just how much young buyers are spending, but also what they are spending it on that is of note. The amenities at the top of most young buyer's wish lists are outdoor kitchens, gyms, home theater systems and garages to house 4+ cars! These amenities all showcase the desire to lead active lifestyles, raise families or entertain in their homes and make the most of their purchases. Despite these new age desires, the oldest adage in real estate still applies: Location, location, location! Location is still the most important factor in property purchases, with only 6% of young buyers purchasing homes outside of the U.S.

Calling all you young buyers looking for the perfect property! Take a peek into these luxury Riskin Associates properties and tell us, do you see something you like?

A home gym in a Santa Barbara estate
A home gym in a Santa Barbara estate
This contemporary Montecito property boasts one of the most luxurious outdoor dining areas.
This contemporary Montecito property boasts one of the most luxurious outdoor dining areas.
610CimaVista_Cellar
610CimaVista_Cellar

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Year's End Market Forecast

A Montecito estate listed by Riskin Associates
A Montecito estate listed by Riskin Associates

With two weeks of mid-80's temperatures here in Montecito, the team at Riskin Associates is having a hard time believing summer is almost over. With a busy selling season, fall is sneaking up on us and reminding us that 2013 is coming to a close! Thus far, the market has been booming this year: the low-end seller's laughed all the way to the bank due to bidding wars, inventory was tight and suddenly high-end listings are getting escalating activity! With the exciting movement in the market, agents, buyers and sellers are all looking at the market forecast for the remainder of 2013.  According to Forbes Real Estate writer Morgan Brennan, here's where the market is going:

  • Don't worry about bursting your bubble. While prices are soaring at impressive rates, they are not catching up to the pre-burst levels. Prices are still lower than they were back then, in fact there are still many undervalued area's across the country.
  • Prices will continue to increase through 2013. Experts project that 2013 will close with home prices anywhere from 6-12% higher than last year's based on supply and demand. However, the progress is expected to slow due to increasing inventory and high mortgage rates.
  • Inventory won't stay low for long. Early in 2013, inventory hit a 12-year low, but is already starting to increase. Realtor.com president Errol Samuelson expects that inventory levels will flatten out into fall, but surprisingly, prices will continue to appreciate. New construction will increase as homebuilder's will feel renewed confidence and begin new developments.

2013 has seen some of the strongest market increases since the recovery began. A healthy competitor for the banner year that was 2012, real estate professionals are anxiously watching for 2013's grand finale.

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The right neighborhood..how do you know?

A Riskin Associates Montecito listing
A Riskin Associates Montecito listing

It's the old real estate adage, "location, location, location!" You're heard it time and time again, but what does it mean to you? A neighborhood can be many different things, but what makes a neighborhood great? MSN Real Estate's Melinda Fulmer gives us some insight.

  • People and place: People in the area make small adjustments and improvements, and these small changes can add up to the perception of a larger movement within the community. When an area is "up and coming" it usually means it is seeing a number of things happening at once. Someone adds a small shop, a new park bench, or a new open-air market. These changes seem minuscule when they stand alone, but when paired together, they add up to the flourishing of the neighborhood's character. They allow interaction between community members, which results in, well, more change. In short, it's the character of the people that determine the character of the place.
  • Location location location. This should actually read: opportunity, opportunity, opportunity! Access to well-paying jobs, efficient public transportation, and abundant shops and services all create opportunity for the people who live in the area to improve their lives, be it financially or socially. So opportunity and access to the utilization of these important community aspect are what make the difference when it comes to the desirability of an area.

The next time you hear someone say "location location location" ask them exactly what it means to them to be in a "prime" location. Does it mean great weather? Privacy? A good school? All of these aspects are important, but to each home buyer, what makes a community great is more than just a great lot.

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