We are The Wall Street Journal’s #11!

The Wall Street Journals #11 real estate team by volume, Riskin Associates.

Riskin Associates partners Dina Landi, Rebecca Riskin & Sarah Kelly

This morning The Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends released their list of the top 250 real estate agent teams in the county. Riskin Associates is proud to report that we have captured the #11 spot in list of real estate teams by volume! A team of just three agents, Risk Associates sold a staggering $223 million in luxury real estate last year. As Christie’s International Real Estate and Luxury Potfolio affiliates, Riskin Associates takes pride in listing Montecito’s most distinctive properties and representing buyers with unique real estate needs.


Indoor Living, in the Great Outdoors

The pool pavilion at this Riskin Associates listing offers ample indoor and outdoor dining amenities.

The pool pavilion at this Riskin Associates listing offers ample indoor and outdoor dining amenities.

With the sweet smell of summer in the air and abundant sunshine, getting outside is on everyone’s mind. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the surge in upscale outdoor living space design. Citing the recent depression of the market, homeowners are looking to make their homes more useable. In 2010, the average cost of an outdoor kitchen was $30,000 two years later, homeowners spent an average of $40,000 on outdoor kitchens.

An increase in outdoor appliances is also a contributing factor in the upswing of outdoor living spaces design. Last year, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, a company that manufactures high-end outdoor living space appliances, released an outdoor dishwasher which features a “winterization mode” for the off season. The dishwasher costs $3,995. Other outdoor spaces feature custom mosquito repellent systems which discreetly mist repellent into the air during high insect seasons.

Although outdoor spaces are designed to be an extension of the indoor spaces, furnished outdoor spaces don’t tend to yield as high an investment return as upgraded indoor spaces. Outdoor space, however livable, is not factored into the overall square footage of a property and usually return about 50% of the price-per-square-foot as indoor spaces.

Becoming more and more elaborate, outdoor spaces have been designed to include complete kitchens and dining spaces, televisions, full theater systems and even bathrooms. In Montecito, the incredibly temperate  climate we enjoy is ideal for upgrading and enjoying your outdoor space to include not only pools and fireplaces, but also kitchens, dining and living spaces. Many Riskin Associates properties already offer stellar outdoor spaces that are ready to move you outside to take advantage of our year-round, summer-like weather.

An outdoor kitchen in a Montecito home

This historic Montecito home’s outdoor kitchen boasts a pizza oven!


This romantic outdoor dining space is complemented by an outdoor kitchen.

This romantic outdoor dining space is complemented by an outdoor kitchen.


This Montecito property is perfectly designed for entertaining.

This unique Montecito property is perfectly designed for entertaining.



Parking Space…A Hot Commodity

The motor court and ocean view of a Montecito estate.

The generous motor court enjoyed by this Montecito estate means you and your nearest and dearest will be able to park – without a $500K+ fee.

Here in Montecito, it comes as little surprise that a property, or just the property tax, could run a home owner half a million dollars, with home prices ranging from under one million to well over fifty. Fortunately, when you pay a premium for a luxury property, parking is usually included. This however, is not the case in other areas of the country. This morning’s airing of The Today Show ran a segment on parking availability in metropolitan cities, specifically San Francisco and Boston. Shockingly, an 8×12 foot parking space  near the Giants home field in San Francisco sold for a whopping $82,000! According to the segment, local realtors report that a reserved parking space can add up to $100,000 to the value of a home. And if you think $82K is outrageous for a simple convenience such as parking, two tandem spaces in Boston recently sold for $560,000. We’ll let that sink in.

Hitchcock in the Sunken Garden

The beautiful Sunken Garden at the Santa Barbara Court House

The beautiful Sunken Garden at the Santa Barbara Court House

Here at Riskin Associates, we feel so lucky to live and work in the beautiful cities of Montecito and Santa Barbara. One of the many wonderful qualities of our lovely town is the community’s regular efforts to come together for fun (and often free!) gatherings. Be it the daily local farmer’s markets, the Sunday Art walk at Chase Palm Park or the Downtown Organization’s First Thursday events, it seems there is always an opportunity to grab your friends and get outside to enjoy this incredible area. Although events take place year round, summer events seem to take place daily. Recently, The Santa Barbara Conference and Visitor’s Bureau has released the schedule for this summer’s Movies in the Sunken Garden event which takes place on weekend evenings at the beautiful Santa Barbara Court House’s sunken garden in July and August. This year, legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock will be featured, with an exciting Hitchcock film being played every week. Community members are invited to bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy the sweet summer air and a fun film with friends. Entry to the garden is free, for more information on these and other fabulous Santa Barbara county events, visit the Visitors Bureau’s Calendar of Events.

Celebrity and Summer Camp!

Deer Lodge's Pool and Terrace

Pool party anyone?

It’s a beautiful 75 degrees and the sun is shining in Montecito and Santa Barbara, summer is definitely underway! In honor of graduations and great weather, let’s tour an incredible compound built by the John Deere family in the early 20th century and once owned by legendary actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, which just so happens to be the ideal location for a kid (or adult!) summer camp.

The compound is nestled between lush mature landscape of wildflowers and oak tree canopies.

The compound is nestled between a lush mature landscape of wildflowers and oak tree canopies.

Nestled between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley, the original adobe hacienda has been restored and elaborated upon to what is now an incredible wonderland. With multiple residences and 180 acres of spectacular grounds, the  property is absolutely ideal for summer gatherings and weekend getaways for the whole family.

The main residence boasts almost 6,000 square feet of living space and four additional guest houses with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms provide private quarters for your closest friends and family. An expansive entertaining terrace boasting an outdoor kitchen can host over thirty for dinner.

The kids won’t be disappointed by the plethora of playful amenities the property offers. An infinity pool with pool house, media area and game room are just the beginning. A tree house and fort, bocce ball court, lighted sport court and 3 miles of walking trails are waiting to be explored. Oh, did we mention the 150 foot long zip-line?

Adults won’t be missing out on the fun, the property offers a wine cellar and a 300-vine syrah and grenache vineyard. Don’t worry – you won’t have to maintain this vineyard yourself, the famous Beckmen Estate tends the vines.

An outdoor fireplaces at Deer Lodge.

Indoor and outdoor fireplaces provide romantic spots for enjoying a glass of the proeprty’s grenache or roasting marshmellows with the kids.

Views of the Santa Ynez Valley

Three miles of trails have been carved for private hiking.

Deer Lodge pool house, Montecito CA

The pool house provides a relaxing space to take a break from the Santa Barbara sun.

Deer Lodge Living room

Deer Lodge’s incredible living room provides guests with a fun and relaxing space to enjoy each other’s company.

Deer Lodge's incredible grounds.

Deer Lodge’s incredible grounds.

The infinity pool overlooks the Santa Ynez Valley and Deer Lodge's Bocce Ball Court.

The infinity pool overlooks the Santa Ynez Valley and Deer Lodge’s Bocce Ball Court.

The expansive kitchen is warm and wonderful gathering area.

The expansive kitchen is warm and wonderful gathering area.

Deer Lodge is one of Santa Barbara's most incredible and serene properties.

Deer Lodge is one of Santa Barbara’s most incredible and serene properties.

Discover this most unique treasure trove of amenities offered at $10,900,000.

For more information, please contact Montecito’s number one real estate team, Riskin Associates.

Santa Barbara County Sales Are STILL Up!

Santa Barbara County Sales for May 2013

May certainly was an active month for Santa Barbara’s residential real estate market, marking the 5th consecutive month of year over year increases for sales in southern Santa Barbara County. During the month of May, 265 transactions closed, up from 197 during the month of April. So far, 2013 has seen steady increases in home sales each month, a very promising trend as we continue to roll into the summer selling season. The economy is continuing to make a rapid recovery allowing the real estate market to experience resurgence as well as shifting trends. As we reported last week, the average size of homes is increasing, which was also credited to the economy’s recovery as American’s are able to afford more space. Perpetually increasing sales combined with increasing trends in home sizes are strong indicators that the residential real estate market of Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities of Montecito, Carpinteria and Hope Ranch is active and promising!

Median Square Footage on the Rise!

A montecito estate with 13,000 square feet.

This Montecito estate boasts approx. 12,000 square feet of luxurious living space.


CNNMoney is reporting an upswing in homebuyers’ preference for larger homes. As effects of The Great Recession continue to fade, Americans are purchasing larger homes once again. According to the Census Bureau, the median home size in 2012 was up 8% from 2009 at a record of 2,306 square feet. In 2013, home sizes appear to be growing even more, with Marcie DePlaza, a division president for GL Homes reporting that so far this year, her company is selling homes 7% larger than those in 2012. 

Access to credit may skew these statistics as mortgages for low- and mid-income home buyers are more difficult to get than for high-income buyers. With strict underwriting standards, homebuyers who receive loans tend to be a bit more affluent and can afford larger homes. Some predict that as mortgages become easier to obtain, median home sizes will drop, but current trend seems to be staying the course. People tend to prefer more space, and Jeffry Roos, regional president of homebuilder Lennar, credits affordability with the drop in home sizes during The Recession, “It wasn’t that consumers wanted less space, many just couldn’t afford more.” In fact, homebuyers tend to buy homes larger than originally planned, 18-20% larger in fact. “The four-bedroom outsells the three-bedroom all day long” said DePlaza.

These statistics are promising evidence that the economy is in a healthy state of recovery, “People weren’t buying SUV’s during the recession either and they are again,” DePlaza said.

Riskin Associates represents properties of distinction in Montecito, California and the surrounding communities of Hope Ranch and Carpinteria. The average square footage of Riskin Associates’ listings is 7,668 sqft.