Santa Barbara Downtown Living


When I first talked to my friends about selling this condo, I knew it would be snapped up in a minute. The owners have maintained this condo amazingly well. I had the first open house today and everyone who came loved all the updates, plus the location is  ideal. Interested buyers better move quickly to get this wonderful property.

Enjoy Santa Barbara living in this downtown townhouse. This condo features a remodeled kitchen with granite counter tops, wood floors, fireplace, and updated bathrooms; This condo is move-in ready. Light and bright with skylights throughout. Walk to shops, parks and all Santa Barbara has to offer. 2 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. Private outdoor patio. One car garage and designated parking space, Laundry in unit. Peabody School attendance area.

Association fees: $220

319 West Valerio Street Unit 5, Priced at $575,000.

Call or email for a private showing.

Oceanview Spanish Hacienda on the Mesa

santa barbara mesa property

I am very excited to have my first new listing since moving to Sotheby’s International and what a beautiful home it is. When you think of all Santa Barbara can offer, you think of this beautiful property. It has a the charm of a 1920′s built Spanish: wood floors, tile patios, fireplace crafted with tiles from the Malibu Tile Works; plus this property has a big ocean view from almost every room. When you explore the yard you will find a darling studio with a cozy fireplace and half bath. It could be a great art studio, detached office or guest room.

3 bedroom, 2 bath main house with a studio and half bath. Priced at $1,349,000 Newly Priced at $1,265,000.

Look through all the photos of this property and tell me what you think. For a personal showing please call or email me at

Santa Barbara Mesa View BackYard2 Bedroom1 GuestHouseShower GuestHouse Dining Deck Kitchen LivingRoom2

10 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

staging real estate

For anyone trying to sell a home–ever–but especially in this tricky market, you have likely heard the adage of a staged home selling faster, and for more money, more times than you can shake a stick at (you know, the one you trimmed from the tree in the front yard during Phase 1, Curb Appeal). The question is, what to do, how to do it, and is it worth paying someone to do it for you.

I’ll answer that last part first. The logic of hiring a stager falls under the category of it’s always easier if someone else does the work for you. The end results will also likely happen more quickly and with more wow-factor if left to the professionals. But pros do cost money, so even though I could make a solid case for this as money well spent that will be dwarfed by the extra profit you’ll make on your house, if your budget does not allow for hiring a stager, here are some tips you can do by yourself with only a small monetary investment, a bit of elbow grease, and a large amount of aspirin (moving furniture is not for the weak, or those prone to back pain.)

Let’s get started.

1) Inspiration immersion: Consult catalogs and design magazines, seek out professionally staged homes at Open Houses, and/or use the internet to check out Before and After pictures of staged rooms. Once you are saturated with what works, take a close look at the interior and exterior of your home to figure out what doesn’t. Better yet, invite a fresh set of eyes over in the form of a trusted friend. Together, you can begin your To Tackle list.

2) Step outside: Literally. The exterior of your home will make the first impression on buyers. You don’t want to blow it. Begin at the curb and slowly walk towards your front door taking note of any damage or sorry spots along the way. Pull any weeds (especially those popping through driveways or walkways). Mow, rake, prune, power-wash porches–whatever it takes to tidy up the outside of your home. Replace dead greenery with healthy, new specimens and plant clusters of cheery flowers along pathways. Update tired-looking outdoor lights, especially those by the front door. If the front door itself needs freshening up, repaint it. A new mat is a welcoming touch. Consider placing potted plants (if room allows) on either side of said door for symmetry. If you notice any additional areas of peeling or faded paint, don’t stop with the door.

3) Clean it like you mean it: Or like you just invited your most finicky friend over for tea. This means from the beginning of the driveway to the back of the toilet. Scrub, scour, dust, degrease. Repeat as necessary. Attend to the window sills and the windows–the more light that enters, the better. Next open the windows and air the place out. The smell of the home ranks right up there with the look. Imagine a beautiful home with a musty scent. Incongruous, right? However, avoid artificial air fresheners, which many noses will find off-putting, in lieu of natural odor-removing remedies such as sprinkling baking soda onto carpet/throw rugs. Allow to sit for 15 minutes then vacuum. The counters, the fronts of cabinets, even the inside of your refrigerator, should be thoroughly cleaned. Clutter should be tossed, donated, or stored–away from your house. If the carpets look dirty, clean them. If the stains don’t come out, you can purchase a large, inexpensive rug at a big box store (look for the simplest design and the most neutral of colors), or a carpet remnant from a flooring store, to lay atop the carpet. If you have ragged carpet in the foyer that no amount of cleaning will revive, consider cutting it out and installing some charming faux vinyl tile. The peel-and-stick variety can be found for as little as 99 cents a square foot and are an easy DIY project.

4) De-you the space: Hear the real estate agent buzzword “depersonalize” enough and it’s easy to feel like it’s well…personal. Sure someone might appreciate the photo of you on the top of that mountain. Your collection of stuffed koalas is surely unsurpassed. And your neighbor did call your child’s dragon drawing magneted to the fridge “awesome”. Does it really all have to go? Simply put, yes. Buyers can easily become distracted looking at family photos and collectibles instead of at the home. As amazing as you are, the house needs to be less about you and more of a blank slate that potential buyers can imagine themselves in. Take yourself out of the equation as much as possible (or at least off the walls and surfaces in the house) by removing as many personal effects as possible, including trophies/awards, collections, and superfluous knick knacks.

Fresh paint, new pillows and an Ikea white duvet cover cleaned up this bedroom.

Fresh paint, new pillows and an Ikea white duvet cover cleaned up this bedroom.

5) Neutralize: Imagine a hotel room where the surroundings are fairly small and yet the room, layered in neutrals and devoid of tchotchkes, feels spacious and inviting. Calm colors and soothing earth tones have the broadest appeal. Consider this when decorating the rooms to show. Reassess any accent walls you’ve painted in wild colors. Lime green isn’t likely to speak to everyone’s design taste. A shade of cream or sand is. Shabby drapes are not chic, nor are broken blinds. If you don’t want to invest in custom window treatments, consider bamboo roller shades from the Garden section of the home improvement stores. Choose a size that is at least as wide as your window and trim the sides to fit. To soften the visual edges of the shades, purchase prefab curtain panels in a neutral color and hang them flanking the window. As a last resort, if you can’t find the time or the money to replace broken window treatments, just remove them, fill any holes, and touch up the paint. You can justify your laziness with the fact that you just added a whole lot of view and light—just what real estate agents are always demanding more of!

6) Clarify: After you’ve cleaned every room in the house, assess each for style and function. The purpose of each room should be clear (not: “This is an office/game room/nursery.”) so buyers can easily imagine themselves utilizing the function of the room. Next, examine the placement of furniture. The goal is to make the space appear as large as possible and create an easy flow from room to room. Don’t be afraid to pull the sofa away from the wall or set the club chairs on a diagonal. Remove any obstructions until you find the best possible arrangement. Consult a catalog or revisit those Before and After pictures if you get stuck.

New bar stool, clean counter tops and clutter free fridge.

New bar stool, clean counter tops and clutter free fridge.


7) Freshen and finesse: Place vases of fresh flowers in strategic spots in one or two rooms, such as on an entry table, in the dining room, living room, or on a side table in the master bathroom. If the fabric on your sofa or chairs is dirty or worn out, invest in slip covers. Add new decorative pillows to add a punch of color to an old sofa. Adorn a living room chair or sofa with an artfully arranged throw. In bedrooms, use headboards when you can—they create the focal point for the room. Prop two rows of standard pillows, placed in the upward position, at the head of the bed. For an accent, place decorative pillows in front of the standard pillows. Dress the beds with solid white or cream-colored sheets and clean, neutral bedding that looks as good as new—even if this means buying something new. At the end of the bed, drape an attractive throw blanket folded into thirds. Note: The bedding and décor of the master bedroom should appeal to both sexes. Shop for new pieces, or edit existing ones, accordingly.

8) Bathrooms, too: Stock the bathrooms with new, fluffy white towels as if you were planning to offer facials instead of your home for sale. No dingy anything. This includes bath mats. Here’s what can be on the bathroom vanity: a matching set of a soap dispenser, toothbrush holder, and other holder, such as one for cotton balls and/or Q-tips and a neatly folded hand towel. What should not be on vanity counter: toiletries, electric shavers, and/or half-used bars of soap. No kids’ toys (in tub or otherwise) should be present in bathroom.

9) Avoid avalanches: Do not assume it is safe to stuff all the junk you are trying to hide in your closets. Potential buyers will look there and when those doors open, you don’t want the liability of your Scrabble board crashing down on their snooping heads. A crowded closet will look like a small closet. Keep them tidy and as understocked as possible. Remember, neatness counts. A well-maintained home can be inferred from an organized closet. If possible, rent a storage locker to hold any overflow or ask a very close (and accommodating) friend if you can stash some boxes in his or her garage.

10) Help wanted: If this all sounds like too much work, for under $100 you can have a consultation with a designer or professional stager. He or she will be able to offer suggestions and helpful advice that is specific to your home. For an additional fee, you can rent the furniture and accessories and even have all that decorating and furniture rearrangement done for you. The upshot of using a trained designer or stager is they have the speed, talent and experience with staging homes, whereas you may not. Also, wouldn’t it be nice to avoid ruining any friendships by enlisting friend as helpers and critics? Nevertheless, if you have read this far, you are now so well-armed with ideas, that you can tackle staging on your own if you so choose. But if you need help, here’s my number.

About Kisha Gianni Designs
Formally trained in interior design, the spaces she creates are built on classic principles, yet enlivened with a touch of the unexpected. Her individualized approach, tailored to reflect the uniqueness of each client, as well as her meticulous attention to detail, has earned her a loyal following. Kisha has a boutique interior design business and can help with staging projects as well. She can be reached at or (805) 453-4366.

Does It Matter What School District I Buy In?

schools and real estate is santa barbara

There are so many factors to consider when you start looking at homes. Recently I was showing property to a young couple for their first time. We talked a lot about the type of property they wanted and what they could afford to do in terms of repairs, etc. We talked about the need for a larger yard, the type of neighborhood they wanted and then I asked them if they had thought about schools. “Does it really matter what school district we are in?” was their response. Well, yes – it does, if you plan to have children you want to think ahead and even if you do not have children, your school district will affect the overall value of a property. I know many parents who have passed on a home they loved, because it wasn’t in the district they desired.

What if you don’t have kids now, but plan to someday? When property values were going up every day, it was easy to think, “we will just sell this house and move when we have kids.” Unfortunately, as priced began to fall many people who had planned to move found themselves stuck. So even if you don’t have kids now, but are thinking about them in the future – take into consideration the schools that are available too you and if they are options you would be happy with. If the answer is “no” then you need to ask yourself if private school is feasible or look for another property.

How much does private school cost? We are very lucky to have a lot of private schools available in Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta and Carpinteria. From small Carden based schools such as Howard in Carpinteria to college preparatory high schools like Laguna Blanca. Each school has a unique feel and student body, and the tuition for each varies greatly. The lowest cost private schools start around $6,000 and can be as high as $26,000 per year. Many of the more affordable schools are faith based institutions.

If you are considering a home purchase or a move – research your schools and know your options. Then you won’t be surprised when your child is ready for kindergarten.

Some resource:

Santa Barbara School Resources 

You can also get information on school ratings at

Photo credit Santa Barbara Junior High: Flickr/bredgur


Montecito’s Amazing Gardens

I love to tour Montecito properties because of their huge, manicured gardens. I love my own back yard, but it is just a yard – I would love to have an acre or two with places for boys to explore and me to relax. Today I found 2 acres that were truly inspiring on Sycamore Canyon. As soon as you pass through the iron gates and  into the shaded gravel driveway, you know someone has spend a great deal of time and effort into planning this park like environment. There are stately oaks trees, gurgling fountains and meandering paths. I could have explored the landscape for the entire day. I am sure the owners do, and at the end of the day they can stroll home to ocean views and Tuscany elegance. Priced at $4.9 million it is a truly special property.

After exploring the large estates, I ventured off to see a home in a more familiar price range ($829,000) and listed by a familiar face, Natalie Grubb who is also with Village Properties. What a treat I discovered. This smaller home on a quiet street, Chelham Way, has a huge surprise. When I ventured into the yard and past the little redwood gate, an entire canyon opened up to me. There are oak trees and little pathways – there is even a small stream. The home is located in Cold Springs School District and would be an amazing place for young minds to explore. I guess you don’t have to spend $4.9 million to own an amazing garden.

Why Everyone Loves Goleta, The Goodland

When people call Goleta “the Goodland” – they are speaking the truth. There is so much to love about this beautiful coastal community. I live in Santa Barbara city. I love my house and my town, but there is a part of me that is always thinking about moving a little further north to Goleta. You see, I grew up in a small town with lots of neighborhood kids to play with in a very suburban neighborhood. My best friend lived 3 blocks away and at age 7, I was allowed to ride my bike (with no helmet) up the block to play for an afternoon. It was awesome. My grandparents lived 2 blocks away and on a daily basis I would drop in to see them, shell some walnuts with my grandpa and watch TV with my cousins. I had no idea how good I had it.

When my husband and I started our family, I had a sad realization that I would not be able to provide my kids with the same neighborhood that I had growing up in. Our street is often filled with rush hour traffic and a walk to my in-laws would take about an hour and require a great deal of stamina. Now, I know my parents don’t live in Goleta and the streets can be busy there too; but when I drive the neighborhoods and see the freshly manicured lawns, the kids riding bikes and the mom’s chatting at Stow Park – I can’t help but feel I belong there too.

Goleta Real Estate Information

  • 2909876.92,3057869.15,3554173.68,3932700.00,3838475.00,4251631.82,4714995.00,4100930.43,4652440.00,4166291.30,4414042.86,4685065.00
  • 932714.81,515100.00,844376.47,727852.63,720502.94,644458.82,898958.33,554592.31,808133.33,566744.74,758535.71,638690.00
  • 780000.00,825000.00,905000.00,849000.00,519000.00,492000.00,679500.00,599000.00,774500.00,669000.00,630000.00,734000.00
  • 750000.00,512150.00,689000.00,649000.00,603750.00,579900.00,782000.00,559000.00,679000.00,607000.00,634500.00,661500.00

Information is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. © 2013


Going Back To Work

Going back to a full time job after a long hiatus is never an easy thing to do. When I got pregnant with my first child, there was no doubt in my mind that I would continue to work. My parents had both worked my entire life and the idea of staying home all day with babies changing diapers seemed silly. And then I had my child and I knew that my priorities were about to change. But a few months later, I went back to work and my husband helped with reorganizing our schedules to accommodate our growing responsibilities. Then I had my second child and as the saying goes, “all hell broke loose.”

Now, I know it look really easy to be a real estate agent and a mom – you show homes, look at property, make lunch and change the diapers, etc. But there is something you might not know, real estate can be very stressful and being a mom can be extremely stressful. With real estate, often there is a lot of someone else’s money involved and emotions go on a crazy roller coaster of a ride – one day the house is perfect and the next it is a mess. There is a part of me that loves to put together a good deal, but at the end of the day I was too stressed to give my kids the mother I wanted to and that they deserved. So I quit real estate and it was the right decision.

Things have changes over the years – instead of a Landrover, I drive a Honda Odyssey. I don’t take any calls at dinner time. My polished appearance is often replaced with a stained t-shirt and jeans from a busy day of painting at my kids preschool. I have loved every minute of the last 4 years and am so incredibly appreciative that my family was able to afford this luxury.

But as my youngest starts school next year, I knew it was time to either have another or go back to work. At first, I thought about other career options – maybe I could do something different. Then I thought about going back to school – maybe a law degree? Then I thought, let’s just have another baby – maybe not. After weighting all my options, I decided that I really do love real estate. It is a great job and a fun profession. I love all the amazing people in the business (ok there are a few people I don’t love too) and the sense of accomplishment when everything comes together and a client gets a great deal. It is rewarding.

It is a little sad to know that a chapter of my life is about to end, but I think I did a pretty good job.

Welcome to My Real Estate Blog

I am so excited to launch my new real estate blog! For years, I have been a blogger. It started with my pregnancy, when my family and children, when Santa Barbara city and for Santa Barbara Adventure Company and now for Real Estate. I have read a lot of the real estate blogs over the years and always wondered why there wasn’t a really good and informative blogger out there. There are a few who deliver great facts and statistics. There are a few who mention properties and try to keep things current. But I knew when I started developing my own blog, I wanted to talk about the properties and statistics that really mattered to buyers and sellers. What was interesting on the market? What was priced well? Why to buy in this area, etc.
I hope to give my readers all of that. Now please bare with me on spelling and grammar; mine leaves a lot to be desired. But I hope to provide good updates for my visitors on a weekly basis and to find deals that others may have missed. I love going out on caravan and finding a missed gem. So what did I find today?

Here is my great find for the day: 4541 Camino Molinero for $1,145,000. This property has been reduced in price, was built in 1991 and is a great deal. The neighborhood and street are great. This home is a little dated, but everything is clean and in working order. There is a wonderful workshop. It has a great back yard and is in Mountain View School district. This property is listed by Village Properties, Julie Barnes.

If you haven’t seen it and are looking for a nice home in that price range ~ you should take a look. I think you will be impressed.