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.

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.”

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

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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.”

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.

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. 1125GardenLane_09

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. 1125GardenLane_12

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.

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.1125GardenLane_25

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.

1125GardenLane_04Outside, 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.

 

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

 

 

 

An International Affair

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

New Listing! El Fureidis – The Scarface Estate

Riskin Partners is honored to have this architecturally significant and historically unique co-listing with Emilly Kellenberger. El Fureidis – translated as ‘tropical paradise’ – is one of Montecito’s most celebrated estates and steeped in rich and colorful history.

26 - Exterior with Greenery -  Tom Ploch

The estate was founded in 1906 by James Waldron Gillespie, a visionary hailing from New York who came to the West Coast looking for a location with a landscape and a climate that rivaled that of the Mediterranean. Originally known as a botanic garden, the estate boasts 10 acres of exceptional grounds offering the utmost in privacy and a variety of trees, many of which are over 100 years old.

1 - Private Driveway Entrance - Tom Ploch

The estate was inspired by Gillespie’s world travels, and designed by renowned architect Bertram Goodhue, known mainly for his churches, museums, and monumental buildings.

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Goodhue’s works include the Los Angeles Central Library, Saint Thomas Church in New York City, the Nebraska State Capitol, and the Chapel and Original Campus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

25 - East Elevation, Walkways and Fountain - Tom Ploch

El Fureidis is known as Bertram Goodhue’s outstanding Mediterranean Revival masterpiece.

10 - Lee Lawrie Original Signature - Zac Smith

A Grand Roman Villa

Together, Gillespie and Goodhue embarked on a yearlong trip to Europe and the Mediterranean region to gather inspiration for the estate; a significant portion of their journey included over 500 miles on horseback from the Caspian Sea to the Gulf of Persia. This journey birthed the concept of a grand Roman villa with Persian gardens, a very progressive architectural style for the time.

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A Careful Eye for Detail

Constructed of steel-reinforced concrete and retaining the original layout footprint, Goodhue built El Fureidis to last. The main house recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation with a careful eye for detail, preserving the historic elements of the estate, while equipping the estate for modern living in a new era.

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Piéce de Résistance

The estate itself forms a rectangle with a bright atrium terrace at its center, and is accessed through an entry hall and a “conversation room,” a Byzantine-style alcove crowned with an 18-foot-high central dome that is decorated with a floral hand painted, gold and blue design in 24k gold-leaf modeled after the church of St. John Lateran in Rome.  The conversation room has remained the piéce de résistance of the house.

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Neoclassical Era

Offering numerous areas for entertaining, the public rooms of the estate are grand in style. The formal dining room is unique with a barreled ceiling painted in 24k gold leaf and depicting a scene of Alexander the Great conquering Persepolis by Henry Wadsworth Moore. The original signature by the artist remains intact. A musician’s balcony overlooks the formal dining room and is accessed via a glass door.

11 - Interior Couryard - Tom Ploch

Each public room is bathed in natural light from the numerous sets of double doors, which open to the central courtyard and other patio areas.

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From the entry, one may enter the formal living room with lovely blue paneled ceilings, representing the heavens, and the neoclassical era of the estate.

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From the living room, the floor plan continues to a library, a sitting room and a lounge.

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Modern Appointments

Many of the original fixtures and appointments remain, and are coupled with fully modernized and deluxe appointments in the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry facilities, such as radiant floor heating, a steam shower, and top-end appliances. The renovation includes a second floor configured with three guest suites.

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Upstairs, an exquisite rooftop with three access points provides 360-degree views of the lavish ten-acre property, Pacific Ocean, and the Channel Islands. The desirable Montecito climate allows the rooftop to be enjoyed year round, while expansive space for rooftop lounging and sunset views provide the perfect setting for events.

3 - South Elevation with Reflecting Pools - Tom Ploch

The property is bordered by a seasonal creek and offers significant gardens and landscaping, originally Persian in design, and reflective of Gillespie’s fondness for palm trees.  At one time, the gardens boasted more than 100 different varieties of palm and other trees, and today the expansive 10-acre grounds still harbor several century-old tree specimens, including a massive Chilean wine palm, Montecito’s largest Moreton Bay fig tree, magnificent king palms, a grove of coast redwoods, citrus and walnut orchards, and many others.

22 - Lower Reflecting Pools - Tom Ploch

Significant Landscape

The many terraces, reflecting pools, and gardens are enhanced by Lee Lawrie’s nine bas-reliefs located at the rear of the estate. Lee Lawrie and Bertram Goodhue collaborated on many projects, bringing Lawrie to the forefront of the architectural industry. Lee Lawrie known as one of the United States’ most influential architectural sculptors and likely best known for the sculpture of Atlas at Rockefeller Center. The nine bas-reliefs depict scenes from Arthurian legends, which form a band between the tops of columns on the south side of the estate and feature Lawrie’s signature etched in stone.9 - Back Patio - Tom Ploch

The south elevation of the estate is dominated by a dazzling terrace of herringbone brick and turquoise reflecting pools, which descends via a walkway graced with additional water features—ending at a stately Roman temple or casino.

23 - Lower Fountains - Tom Ploch

The prevalent rectangular shape of the pools, terraces and walking paths in the gardens provide a tranquil atmosphere while water transports from one place to the next via narrow, shallow channels that are terraced to create cooling water.

24 - Lower Reflecting Pools - Tom Ploch

The estate includes numerous original brick pathways offering opportunities to take in the lovely trees, and to reflect on the peaceful atmosphere across the grounds.

27 - Moreton Bay Fig Tree - Tom Ploch

El Fureidis is a place of legendary provenance and has at times received credit for playing host to many memorable tenants and visitors, including Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Charles Chaplin, and John F. Kennedy. It is perhaps best known in recent years as a location for the 1983 film “Scarface,” and the wedding scene of Michele Pfeiffer and Al Pacino. The estate is one of only three residences in Montecito designed by Goodhue, and is a true piece of art history.

El Fureidis

631 Parra Grande, Montecito

Offered at $17,900,000

Click here to experience the virtual tour of the estate

Click here for a complete list of all of Riskin Partners’ luxury listings

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

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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.”

A Quick Look Into the Inaccuracies of Zillow Home Zestimates in Santa Barbara

The LA Times recently examined Zillow‘s price inaccuracies, where Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff, remarked that their “Zestimates are a ‘good starting point’ but that nationwide they have a ‘median error rate’ of about 8%.” This is of significance considering that Zillow is one of the most popular real estate information sites. “Shoppers, buyers, and sellers” alike often quote these estimated value prices to real estate agents, and discrepancies can sometimes lead to disagreements. The disparity can be especially significant in regards to luxury homes, where that “small” percentage can translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars – possibly even more in market areas where inaccuracy percentages are even higher. (Read the full LA Times article here)

So, we decided to do a little bit of our own research about the Santa Barbara area including Carpinteria, and Montecito. We compared the sales price of 10 different homes that closed since January 1, 2015 to current Zillow Zestimate prices. Differences ranged from +/- 3% all the way up 31%, with the majority of discrepancies being between +/- 3% and 11%; the average deviation from actual closing sale price was 11.8%. Although it would be a stretch to assume this is the average for the entire Santa Barbara housing market, it does give us a general idea of the extent to which Zestimates are flawed. Fortunately, it seems Santa Barbara does not suffer from drastic price discrepancies, but it is a factor that home buyers, sellers, and shoppers should be aware of.

Lesson to learn from all of this: online home estimates should be used for general reference, and not treated as factual or explicit. Buyers and sellers are encouraged to trust the valuations of real estate professionals and appraisers.

For more information on Santa Barbara real estate, or the luxury enclaves of Montecito, Hope Ranch, the Riviera and Beaches, please contact Riskin Associates, the top producing real estate team in Santa Barbara.

Riskin Associates of Village Properties Sells Mediterranean Estate in Montecito for $15,000,000

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LuxuryRealEstate.com, “a compendium of the finest residential real estate firms from around the world,” has published a press release regarding the recent sale of one of Riskin Associates‘ exceptional properties in Montecito. The two-story Mediterranean estates which prides ocean- and mountain-views, a six bedroom main house, two bedroom guest cottage, pool and cabana, tennis court, and lusciously manicured gardens, was sold for $15,000,000.The press release from LuxuryRealEstate.com contributes to the recognition of Riskin Associates as a prominent figure within the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate network; we genuinely feel inspired and motivated to continue striving toward our goals! If you would like to browse more closed sales by Riskin Associates, click here, or if you would like to view more of our available listings, click here.

To read the full significant sale article click here or on the picture below