Designer Tips on Interior Decorating

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A First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Home Maintenance

Take care of these tasks to avoid major home hassles, inefficiencies or unsightliness down the road

     When you buy your first house, you have a lot going on with moving in, perhaps buying some furniture, hosting your first party at the house and getting used to those mortgage payments. With all that excitement, it’s easy to overlook routine home maintenance, especially when you’ve never had to tackle these tasks before.

     To keep things from getting overwhelming, we’ve created this home maintenance guide for first-time owners. And don’t worry — most of these tasks take just a few minutes or a quick call to a trusted pro. Take a deep breath and dive into the 11 home maintenance to-dos you’ll need to handle in the first year of buying a home.

Check Wood Decks for Moisture

     Why: Wood decks — including redwood and pressure-treated woods — need to be sealed and stained to prevent water damage and rot.

     How: A quick splash test will tell you if the last seal is still working. If you fill a glass of water and spill it on your deck, you should see tiny beads of moisture form on the surface — a sign that the sealant is still repelling the water. If that doesn’t happen, then it’s time to reseal your deck.

     When: You should do a splash test at the beginning of every summer and expect to reseal your deck every two or three years.

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5 Tips for creating the strongest bid in a seller’s market


     All buyers want that perfectly-located, magazine-worthy dream home. Such properties quickly generate multiple offers in very short time, but only one of those offers succeeds — and you want that offer to come from your buyers.

     To ensure that happens, you’ll need to start by educating them on what a seller‘s market requires of them as buyers.

     Homebuyers often think their first step is to find the right house, when in reality they should be focused on financing, which includes defining how much they can reasonably afford to pay for their dream home.

     After financing is in order, your buyers should prepare to jump in with a strong offer once they’ve found the right home, and it should contain these five elements:

1. Address seller’s anxiety

     The strongest offer will address the sellers‘ anxieties over your buyers’ financial capability.

     Because a cash offer eliminates sellers’ stress about appraisals and loan approvals, “cash is king” with most sellers. So find out upfront if it’s possible for your buyers to offer all cash.

     Many potential cash buyers currently own a home and anticipate using the proceeds of its sale to purchase another. The wise course for such buyers is to do a preliminary home search to ensure that what they want exists. Once that issue is resolved favorably, encourage your clients to sell their current home as soon as possible, then explore transition housing options in case they don’t immediately find another home they truly love.

     Moving twice is a pain, but selling one property while trying to find its perfect replacement (with a moving truck arriving on a short timeline) is beyond stressful. They need a back-up plan.

     Even buyers who are qualified for a loan and planning to finance their home purchase might have options that would enable them to offer all cash. Ask them. Perhaps, for example, their parents — or another generous source — could step in as co-buyers. Then, once your clients have closed on their chosen property, they can arrange a loan secured by the property to repay their co-buyers.

     If making a cash offer isn’t feasible, make sure your buyers’ lender has had its underwriters approve the buyers’ credit at a loan level in line with — or slightly above — their target purchase price.

     Mortgage pre-approvals instill greater seller confidence than standard prequalifications, because all the buyers’ required documentation has been submitted and lender-approved.

     The lender can verify the amount your buyers can afford to pay for their new home — and most will also verify in their pre-approval letter that buyers have funds to close.

2. Start with your highest offer

     Strong buyers start with their highest and best offer, beginning with price. The highest offer isn’t always the one chosen, but in a seller’s market, offering less than list price isn’t a winning strategy.

     Before you begin discussing the offer they wish to make, pull together the comparables (comps) that support the list price and prepare your buyers to offer over asking if they really love the house. (The listing agent probably has the comps he/she used to price the property and may be willing to share them.)

     During your discussion of offer price with the buyers, you might ask how badly they want the house and how they would feel if they lost it over a few thousand dollars. But if they insist on “trying” a lower price offer — especially on a property that suits them perfectly and that has just come on the market — prepare them for an outright rejection.

     Buyers usually only have to lose out once or twice to start believing your advice may actually be worth considering.

3. Include seller wants

     Before preparing your buyer’s purchase offer, have a conversation with the listing agent about elements — other than price — that might appeal to the sellers.

     Do the sellers want a quick close or a more leisurely one? If they’ve specifically excluded items from the sale, don’t ask for those things. But if something isn’t excluded, you can inquire about seller preferences in regard to taking or leaving items such as TV mounts, extra paint, gardening equipment or even pieces of furniture the sellers might find inconvenient to move.

      Incorporate this information in the purchase agreement.

      Never underestimate how loudly money talks. To demonstrate how serious your clients are, nothing says “we really want this house” like a sizable down payment coupled with a substantial initial earnest money deposit. If the buyers decide the property isn’t right for them after all, they simply need to release the contract before their final contingency release is due to ensure their earnest money is not at risk.

     To further entice sellers, make sure your buyers’ purchase offer verifies that the property is being sold as-is (do it even when default language to that effect appears in the contract).

     Even then, take into consideration that the longer sellers have to wait for inspection and loan contingencies to be released, the more uncomfortable they get. You can help alleviate some of their discomfort by accelerating the timeline for inspections and that pre-approved loan.

     Your clients may have to pay a rush fee for the appraisal, but that relatively small additional cost can buy a significant amount of seller goodwill.

     Your buyers can further ease sellers’ minds by releasing the appraisal contingency with their offer if possible. Every agent and seller lives in fear of a low appraisal. Even when a property is properly priced, a fast-moving seller’s market may not provide enough solid comps for the appraiser to value the property at the agreed-upon sales price.

    But if the buyer releases the appraisal contingency with their offer, the seller has less reason to fear a low appraisal. Such a release can only be offered by buyers with sufficient funds to pay any difference between appraised value and the purchase price. But since that ordinarily only amounts to a few thousand dollars, it may be a risk your buyers will happily take for the right house.

     Finally, if your buyers can close and give sellers a little breathing room to complete their move — at no charge — that may well address  seller worries about whether they can actually accomplish a move between the time all contingencies are released and the sale closes.

4. Prepare to deal with inspections and repairs

    In an as-is sale, buyers must be realistic about inspections and repairs. No house — not even a new one — is perfect. And the more competitive the market, the less inclined sellers are to make repairs, especially to nit-picky minor flaws.

     Educate your buyers that the purpose of inspections is to verify sound condition and to point out items that may need replacement or repair down the line.

     If the inspections reveal significant unknown defects, reasonable sellers may lower the price if neither they nor their agent were aware of those problems. But buyers must understand that sellers are not required to fix anything, so it’s better to not ask for a repair unless they’re prepared to walk away if the seller declines to do it.

5. Attach a cover letter

     Always send your own personal cover letter to the listing agent with your buyers’ offer. First, thank the agent for chatting with you about the sellers’ needs. Then, briefly describe the buyers and their enthusiasm for the property; the points of their offer designed to address the sellers’ needs; and any flexibility buyers may have on price, timing of the close and so on.

     Be sure to reiterate that your buyers understand the sale is as-is, and they won’t be nickel-and-diming the sellers for minor repairs. If your buyers want to send a letter to the sellers, that’s fine; they rarely influence sellers, but they do no harm unless buyers rave about a property but submit a lowball offer. That ticks sellers off.

     If your buyers’ offer follows these guidelines, but another buyer’s offer beats theirs, you and your buyers will at least find comfort in knowing everyone did their very best. Additionally, you can prepare them in advance to accept a first backup position in a multiple-offer situation. 

     Deals fall apart for all kinds of reasons that may not affect the desirability of the house for your buyers. So talk to the listing agent to see if the sellers would entertain a formal backup offer if your buyers’ offer fell just slightly short.

     If your buyers get their backup offer accepted, that gives them the right of first refusal should the initial buyer fail to perform. Plus, they can keep looking. Their dream home is bound to materialize — one way or another.

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About The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County

     In 1985, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County was formed when the Santa Ynez Valley Land Trust and Carpinteria Valley Land Trust combined to serve the entire county. Today, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County has helped to preserve over 25,000 acres of natural resource and agricultural land, including the Arroyo Hondo Preserve, Sedgwick Reserve, Carpinteria Bluffs, Coronado Butterfly Preserve, Point Sal, Carpinteria Salt Marsh and several ranches on the Gaviota Coast. The Land Trust works to preserve and enhance our county’s natural open spaces and agricultural heritage for present and future generations. 


The Land Trust:

• Acquires and protects land with natural, agricultural, scenic, recreational and/or historical significance through fair market transactions.
• Shares our knowledge of land conservation strategies with local landowners, planners, public agencies and other conservation organizations.
• Facilitates private conservation of agricultural lands.
• Educates the community through field trips with experts in ecology, agriculture and the arts.

The Land Trust is a sponsoring member of the national Land Trust Alliance (LTA), and has adopted policies, based on the model LTA Standards & Practices, governing land project selection, due diligence, monitoring and stewardship, ethical fundraising, financial and asset management, and conflict of interest.

Who We Are

The Land Trust is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is supported by over 900 members and governed by a volunteer board of trustees. Our conservation projects receive financial support from landowners, individuals, foundations and government grant and tax incentive programs. Our non-profit tax identification number is 95-3797404.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, awarded accredited status to the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County in May 2009 and our accreditation was renewed in 2014 per the Alliance’s five-year cycle.




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What is in a Home Value

It’s common knowledge that neighborhood, crime, and neighborhood comps can affect a home’s value. Here are some of the more invisible factors that can influence home prices.



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Mission Canyon Charming 3/2
2680 Puesta Del Sol
Open Sunday 1-4pm
Offered at 1,495,000

Nestled in Mission Canyon, this classic Victorian features vintage details, beautifully trimmed windows, warm wood floors, cheerful sunroom, relaxing porch, an entertaining deck and gardens of striking oaks and boulders.

Leave the bustle behind and enjoy Classic living and dining rooms, a big kitchen with views of La Cumbre Peak, the master on the main level, and 2 upper bedrooms with dormer windows, plus a private office or yoga room. A well-maintained and spacious home at 2,100 sq’.

Video Slideshow:

Newly Renovated, French Country Home with Ocean Views
1150 Bel Air Drive, Santa Barbara
Offered at $1,895,000
***Open Sunday 5/20 from 1-4pm***

Panoramic mountain, ocean and city vistas from Extensively renovated and Timelessly charming French Country home of 4 BR/2.5 BA on a private lane off Bel Air Drive. The entry porch presents breath-taking views and opens to a light and inviting Great room & Chefs kitchen, plus a luxurious ocean view master suite on the entry-level. The lower level offers 2 additional bedrooms and a sunny 4th bedroom or office, with a family room/ entertaining area and leading to the pretty patio and yard. Recently renovated, the quality and charm is carried throughout … wide-plank eucalyptus wood floors, new Andersen windows and sliding doors, coved ceilings, bull-nosed corners, and broad baseboard molding.

Video Slideshow:


Stunningly Renovated Ranch Style Home
6033 Palmeo Palmilla, Goleta 93117
Offered at $1,175,000
***Open Sun 5/20 from 1-4pm***

Located on a quiet street in a semi-rural Goleta neighborhood sits this stunningly renovated single level ranch style home ideally suited as a main residence or weekend getaway. Enjoy the comfort of the expansive great room with vaulted ceilings, cozy fireplace and a well-designed gourmet kitchen complete with high end finishes for the utmost in entertaining. The roomy Master suite has a walk-in closet and meticulously renovated bath with designer finishes and spa shower. Throughout the marble flooring is seamlessly laid to adjoining bamboo floors …just one of the many ”attention to detail” features of this desirable hi-quality home Experience the stress-free living of a move in ready home with SMART features including keyless entry, thermostat, and tankless water heater.

Additionally, there is a private studio with separate entrance, perfect for dual living, extended guests or fabulous home office.

Video Slideshow:


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Santa Barbara South County Market Overview April 2018

The Santa Barbara South County real estate market shows trends and recent sales data for the Santa Barbara & surrounding areas. According to the 28-Year Price Trend shown below, the average price range took a slight decline between 2015 and 2016, when we started to see a steady increase over the past 2 years. In the past year we have seen approx. a 9% increase, or $141,631 in average sales prices.  The median price levels show a linear increase from 2013 to 2017, with increases of about $50,000+/- per year. Over the last year, there has been an close to a 6% increase in median price levels, or about $64,000. The average price in SB South County is approximately 1.572 million, while the median price is currently $1,050,000.


The total number of  sales has decreased for the first month of 2018 by about 32.5% from 132 to 89 total sales. Since, we are starting to see the Spring increase in sales. Over the last month total sales increased by approx 9% from 140 sales to 153 in the month of April. Based on the models from previous years, we should expect a gradual increase in transactions over the next month as we come  closer to early Summer. Last year we saw the number of home sales drop in December, January, & February – with sales starting to increase drastically in February – This year we are seeing an increase in sales earlier, with increases so far being by approx. 10-20% per month., which should taper out as we reach peak Summer sales.

Market Trends Flyer 2018

Price Report 4_2018NEW

The below graphic shows the total number of transactions for the month of April 2018. Additionally, the sales are listed by area and address, while being distinguished by being a home or condo. Lastly the list designates whether it was a cash sale, and the few properties that were non-MLS sales. CORT Sales by Area 4_2018


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Bringing the San Ysidro Oak Woodland Back- Better than Ever


     For the past several months, Land Trust staff has been working closely with the Ennisbrook Home Owners Association in Montecito to strategize ways to clear mud and flood debris from the 44-acre San Ysidro Oak Woodland. This open space running along San Ysidro Creek, owned by the Ennisbrook HOA and conserved by the Land Trust, provides the community with opportunities for bird and butterfly watching and hiking trails that wind through groves of ancient oak and sycamore. The area was heavily impacted by the debris flows on January 9th; nearly all of the easement was inundated with mud, rock and debris from the destroyed properties uphill. The adjacent neighborhood of Glen Oaks and the Randall Road area were the hardest hit areas in all of Montecito.

     Last week, the Land Trust learned that we were successful in attracting nearly $200K in FEMA funds to support restoration of the San Ysidro Oak Woodland. The Ennisbrook HOA has pledged additional funds to match and augment the cleanup effort and we are excited that many members of the community are also engaged in supporting the effort.  It was through extremely quick action that the Land Trust was able to solicit these funds as the close of the FEMA granting period for mitigation funds was in early March.


     We are so grateful to the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade!  They immediately took on a huge portion of the work needed at Ennisbrook.  These volunteers and their leadership were the first to understand the needs of the trees and were the first to contact the Land Trust and Ennisbrook HOA with an interest in helping the beloved open space.

But there is more to be done. 

     Soon after the debris event, the Land Trust determined that the cost of removing all the soil, rock and debris from the property would be prohibitive and that a solution was needed that would work around the new landform.  With members of the HOA and a dedicated group of neighbors, we have embraced a strategy to clear the destruction debris, remove soil from around the hundreds of oak trees and restore the native vegetation to the creek and the uplands.

     Over the course of the next few weeks and months you will see countless volunteers from the Bucket Brigade and work crews hired by the Land Trust continuing to clean the property working on removal of soil from around the oaks. You will also begin to see revegetation efforts and weed management projects take shape. We foresee planting native shrubs along the creek, adding new oak trees, and an intensive effort to manage the ever-present invasive weeds.

     The Ennisbrook easement is a special place. Over the years, it has come to be known by neighbors and locals as the “100 Acre Wood,” reminiscent of the Winnie the Pooh tales.  This property has shaped the lives of many generations of kids and offers a unique recreation experience in the heart of Montecito.  As part of the original Ennisbrook development approval in the late 1980s, a conservation easement restricting development along the creek was granted to the Land Trust and a public trail easement was granted to the County of Santa Barbara. The property is owned by the Home Owners Association of the Ennisbrook development and today the trails are managed and maintained by our partners at the Montecito Trails Foundation.

     With the help of our engaged community, we look forward to the impact this property will have on the next generation of Santa Barbara kids.



*United Way of Santa Barbara County 

Monetary donations are accepted at:

*American Red Cross

Monetary donations are accepted at:

*Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

Monetary Donations, nonperishable foods, and fresh produce are accepted at:

  • 4554 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara, CA 93110

  • 1525 State St., Ste 100, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

  • 490 W. Foster Rd., Santa Maria, CA 93455

*Salvation Army

Unopened and canned food and monetary donations are accepted at:

  • 423 Chapala St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101

*Unity Shoppe

New clothing, shoes, blankets, toiletries and monetary donations are accepted at:

  • 1401 Chapala St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101

*Direct Relief International

*Habitat for Humanity

Accepting volunteers and monetary donations: or call (805) 692-2226.


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Loving that Living Landscape


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To-Dos: Your May Home Checklist

     With Memorial Day coming up this month, there is plenty of incentive to get those outdoor spaces ready for entertaining. From scheduling house painting to organizing your outdoor cooking tools, tick these 13 items off your to-do list so you can get to the good stuff: hanging out around the grill, kicking back on the porch and savoring the season. Let the countdown to summer begin!


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