Selling a Santa Barbara Home for the First Time? Here's What You Need to Know

The real estate market across the country has been favoring sellers since the onset of the pandemic. But as interest rates rise back to pre-pandemic levels and demand starts to lighten in many parts of the country, homeowners may be wondering whether it’s still a good time to list their houses for sale. Across California, housing markets continue to remain strong, especially in places like Santa Barbara. If this is your first time selling a Santa Barbara home, read on to learn what steps are involved in the process.

The Santa Barbara market is strong

It’s a great time for a first-time seller to list their Santa Barbara home. Home prices continue to rise, and luxury properties can be sold for anywhere from $1,000,000 to upwards of $10,000,000 and higher. What truly drives price, however, is inventory and demand. Before you begin, explore the Santa Barbara real estate market to gain a sense of how many homes are available in the area and whether or not demand is high.

Overall in Santa Barbara, homes are selling fairly quickly. Lower inventory and higher demand are keeping the market relatively competitive and contributing to higher prices. Read on to learn about the three main phases of the home selling process.

How selling works

The selling process can be broken down into three phases: preparing, listing, and closing. Each stage requires its own strategy and steps that can be personalized to meet your selling goals. Whether you’re hoping for a quick sale or want to get the highest return on your investment, start to prepare your home and develop a selling plan.

1. Prepare your home

Preparing your home for sale is a vital part of the process. It requires time and energy, but is well worth it once your home is bringing in offers. Homes that take advantage of pre-listing services tend to perform better, both in sales price and time spent on the market. So consider each of the following ways you can help make your property stand out from others.

Deep cleaning, renovations, and repairs

Declutter and clean your house from top to bottom. This includes removing and storing away personal items on tables and walls, steam-cleaning the carpeting, polishing wood flooring, and washing windows.

Home renovations and repairs are one of the most strategic moves a seller can make. If your Santa Barbara home isn’t up to date, there is a wide array of renovations that can add value. You don’t have to refinish the entire interior. Small changes such as updating light fixtures and faucets, replacing old kitchen appliances with new ones, and new paint in neutral colors show potential buyers the home is well cared for and move-in ready.

Be sure your home’s curb appeal positively catches buyers’ eyes. Repair cracks in the driveway and walkways, trim shrubbery, maintain the lawn, declutter the front porch, and plant flowers.

Home staging and photography

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Consider a professional home stager. Staging a home is one of the best ways to draw in buyers and encourage offers, as it presents your home in its best light and allows buyers to imagine themselves living there. Along with home staging, professional photography gives buyers an inside look at your property’s best features. First-time sellers should hire a photographer who has experience capturing images of luxury real estate in Santa Barbara.

2. List the house

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Once a home is repaired, renovated, staged, and photographed, it’s nearly ready for listing. An online listing page is essential for sellers, as more than 90% of buyers start searching for homes online. Before you list the house, work with your realtor to consider the pricing and timing.

Setting a sale price

Work with an expert realtor in the Santa Barbara real estate market to determine the best price for your home. They will run comparative market analyses to gather a comprehensive home valuation for you. By reviewing recently-sold properties in the same area, realtors pinpoint homes that share features with their clients’ property, from square footage to the number of bedrooms to outdoor recreation spaces. They learn what those homes sold for and apply those numbers to your property. Having the right price is vital in the luxury market, as you want to draw buyers in while feeling confident you’re getting a good return on your investment.

Timing the listing

Though year-to-year trends may show rising prices and steady demand, the Santa Barbara market can shift from month to month. In some seasons, buyers will be more likely to shop for homes and more homes will be listed. It’s important to strategize with your realtor to determine the right month and day of the week for you to list and subsequently meet your selling goals.

3. Closing the sale

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During the closing phase, you will typically open a third-party escrow account through which all your transactions will flow. Sellers should be aware that buyers are encouraged to hire professional home inspectors to review the property and they may come back with an adjusted offer after the inspection. They may also run title search and insurance confirmations to be sure that you’re legally eligible to sell your home to them.

As a seller, you need to disclose any issues with the property and complete any repairs that are agreed upon in your contract. Closing usually involves some back-and-forth negotiations with the buyer to settle on a final price, contingencies, and a closing date.

Partner with a Santa Barbara realtor

The best way to ensure a smooth and successful sale is by working with a Santa Barbara realtor. Chris Palme is an expert at the Santa Barbara and Montecito markets, with over 30 years of experience assisting first-time sellers list and sell their luxury properties. When you’re ready to sell your Santa Barbara home, reach out to Chris Palme.

*Header photo courtesy of Chris Palme


Chris’ seasoned counsel, local perspective and market knowledge are essential elements for accomplishing your real estate goals.

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