Historic El Encanto Hotel to Re-Open

The El Encanto Hotel was approved for $45 million toward reconstruction on Tuesday, November 15.

El Encanto Hotel Santa Barbara

Built in the early 1920s, the building entertains a rich history and has a reputation as a landmark in the city. El Encanto sits on Santa Barbara’s “riviera,” a premiere part of the city that perches up on the Santa Ynez mountain range foothills in an idyllic setting that looks over Santa Barbara’s Spanish-tiled rooftops and the entire coastline (Our Mission Ridge listing is also on the riviera, nearby the hotel).

The historic building has been closed for construction for almost eight years now, halted by adjustments in plans, concerned neighbors, and necessary bureaucratic approval processes.

Hopefully, the $45 million will revive the project, propelling it to open by late 2012, as the developers have projected. Still, the city of Santa Barbara, especially, is known for taking its homeowner’s complaints seriously, even in the face of multimillion dollar commercial proposals. Ideally, the riviera neighborhood and El Encanto’s developers will agree on a way to restore the famed hotel.

Santa Barbara's El Encanto Hotel

The "Riviera" enjoys unparalleled views of the city's coastline


Five Reasons to Become a Homeowner

With bad press about home foreclosures and other homeownership issues, many are ambivalent at best about purchasing a home. We still think that owning a home is a one of the best things you can do in your life. Realty Times compiled a great list of reasons why, which we summarize here:

1. Equity. Every month, your rent check goes directly into your landlord’s pocket and out of yours forever. While purchasing a home certainly costs a chunk of money in the way of inspections, a down payment, etc., that money will be back in your pocket in time. Historical trends show that home values rise by four to six percent each year– there are many areas in which homes have continued appreciating as so. Meanwhile, experts say that places in which the housing market has been hit harder by the recession will see recovery. Owning a home is ideally a long-term investment. For instance, homes purchased in the year 1960 probably go for ten times that price in the modern market.

2. Relationships: Renters generally experience a less stable flow of neighbors moving in and out. Leases range anywhere from a month to a year usually at most, which means tenants come and go pretty easily. Similarly, there a typically not as many social spaces in apartments complexes where neighbors can congregate. On the other hand, most homeowners get much cozier and settled in, thus building relationships that outlast several years. In order to simply regarner their initial expenses, homeownners must stay put for at least three to five years. Healthy, stable relationships lead to a much more contented lifestyle for most. Not to mention, homeowners have yards, clubhouses, community pools, walking trails, and several other places where they can meet and socialize.

3. Predictability: The options of having a fixed-rate term on the mortgage allows for predictability. As so, the amount you pay remains the same throughout the entirety of the term. If you pay $700 each month right now, then you will pay that each month ten years from now, too. This makes building a budget and fiscal plans a much easier and stabler task. With the sub-prime crisis, many people who paid an adjustable rate mortgage on their homes faced spikes in their monthly payments. However, with a fixed rate, owning a home allows planning out major expenses and thus the rest of your financial life doable.

4. Ownership: Simply put, homeownership means owning a home. An obvious statement, sure, but one that means some serious benefits. Homeowners may customize their spaces to their particular preferences. They have the opportunity to virtually create their dream homeswithout answering to anyone, really (except, of course, the Home Owner’s Association, which tends to be more lenient than a landlord). As a homeowner, you can construct your own landscape, splash your walls with your favorite colors, and renovate every corner of your home based on what you personally like. While homeowners have near full control of personalization in their spaces, renters have to deal with the boring, cookie-cutter decor so often put into units to please the widest range of people possible. Landlords are also less likely to update the spaces they rent out for decades, leaving their tenants stuck with outdated places.

5. Great Deals: It’s a buyer’s market right now, with interest rates as low as ever, by up to a whopping two percent in some cases. People who buy homes today will see major savings. The cost of real estate has taken a nose dive with the economy’s downturn, making it easier than ever before to purchase a house. People with reliable incomes and some cash to make a down payment should meet with a local real estate agent to talk about the possibility of buying a home in your city that could work well for them.

Christie’s International Real Estate Pulls in $247,597,000 at its Evening Sale

Article from here:

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, including the first part of the Peter Norton Collection, achieved $247,597,000 (£153,510,140/ €178,269,840) demonstrating the continuing appeal of this category among collectors worldwide. Thirty-three works sold for over the $1 million mark and 16 new world auction records were established for artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Paul McCarthy, Charles Ray, Louise Bourgeois, among others.

The top lot of the sale was Roy Lichtenstein’s, I Can See the Whole Room…and There’s Nobody in It!, which set a new auction record of $43,202,500 (₤26,785,550/€31,105,800). Painted in 1961, it is one of the earliest and most important of Lichtenstein’s Pop Art pictures, formerly in the collection of the pioneering collectors Emily and Burton Tremaine. The previous record for a Lichtenstein work was for Ohhh … Alright…, 1964, sold at Christie’s New York in November 2010 for $42.6 million.

“This is an extremely strong sale result, with great depth of bidding across multiple genres and periods, from the great giants of Pop Art to the strongest artists of the 1990s and the 2000s,” said Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s. “The world’s top ten collectors were present in the saleroom tonight, and a global community of collectors was bidding aggressively on works by the pre-eminent artists in this category – from Lichtenstein to Bourgeois, Ligon to McCarthy, Gursky to Ray. We are delighted to report more than a dozen new records for many well-deserving artists, and a new top price for any photograph sold at auction.”

RR & Associates Ranks #40 in America

 On September 6, the Wall Street Journal named Rebecca Riskin & Associates #40 in its ranking of the top Real Estate Teams in the United States, thus becoming a member of “The Thousand Top Real Estate Professional.” This is an exciting ode to our accomplishments and we have been thrilled to be part of such a prestigious list; it means we are ranked in America’s top one-half percent of realtors!

The Thousand Top Real Estate Professionals honored the top 250 residential agents and agent teams split up into four lists– individual agents and teams, and then one list for each sales by volume and number of transactions.

Thanks to the wonderful grand estates we work with, we were ranked for our high sales volume, with sales totaling $98,105,000. Considering our team consists of just three agents, we are extremely proud of our position.

“The best individual agents and teams – including Rebecca Riskin & Associates’ award-winning efforts – were nothing short of phenomenal considering the challenging real estate market,” said Steve Murray, founder of Denver-based publishing and communications company REAL Trends, which compiled the list.  “Ironically, if you look at the top 250 in each category you will find that collectively, their sales volume and transaction sides held up quite nicely compared with the market as a whole.”

“Becoming a member of such an elite group as the The Thousand  Top Real Estate Professionals is an incredible accomplishment in any market, but what Rebecca Riskin & Associates did during these challenging times is impressive on so many levels,” said Marti Gallardo, vice president, Global Sales, Vertical Markets Advertising for The Wall Street Journal. “Their efforts topped 99.99 percent of the more than 1 million REALTORS nationwide.”

Indeed, in such a challenging economic time, we cannot say how grateful we feel for our fantastic clients and colleagues who enable our success. We hope to continue sharing our passion for extraordinary properties in Montecito, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and Summerland.

The four lists of the The Thousand can be found at:




The Thousand Top Real Estate Professionals awards program was developed jointly by The Wall Street Journal’s Business Development Group and REAL Trends, a leading source of analysis and information for the residential real estate brokerage industry.  The Real Estate Top 1,000 honors America’s elite real estate agents and their companies and is compiled and analyzed by REAL Trends.