Friday, March 25, 2016

Fun Things to do this Easter Weekend in Santa Barbara

Trying to figure out what to do this Easter Weekend in Santa Barbara?

Why not indulge in these fun activities enjoying the Santa Barbara Lifestyle...

Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour
SATURDAY | March 27th | 11:00am
Click here for more info.

Family Easter Egg Hunt
SATURDAY | March 27th | 1:00pm
Click here for more info.
[Free Event]

Easter Court House Service
SUNDAY | March 27th | 9:00am
Click here for more info.
[Free Event]

Bacara Easter Brunch 
SUNDAY | March 27th | 10:30am
Click here for more info.

Easter Lamb Feast at the Lark
SUNDAY | March 27th | 4:00pm
Click here for more info.

Interested in living the Santa Barbara and Montecito Lifestyle? For more information on the Montecito Luxury Real Estate Market click here to contact Susan Pate or visit

Image Source: David Palermo Photography 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

6 Things I Wish I Knew When I Bought My First Home

Trulia shares helpful tips for what to avoid when purchasing your first home.

New homebuyers make every mistake in the book — I even made a few myself when I bought my first home. These critical missteps usually happen when buyers are misinformed or don't ask the right questions. It's painful to watch, because a big percentage of buying blunders are avoidable.
1. I wish I hadn't borrowed the full amount the bank was willing to lend.
Just because you're approved for it doesn't mean you should buy the most expensive house you can. As a general rule, it's wise to take 20 percent less than the amount the bank is willing to lend. If your bank or mortgage broker is willing to finance a $400,000 mortgage, purchase a $320,000 home instead. Buying a home well below the maximum will safeguard your family and your financial security.
2. I wish I hadn't financed my home with the extra-low, short-term adjustable rate mortgage.
If you can, skip adjustable, creative financing, balloon payments, and teaser loans. No matter what life throws at you, you will always have that one constant — your monthly mortgage payment.
A fixed mortgage will be the same 10 or 15 years from now, no matter how the market, interest rates, or the economy changes over time. That predictable, constant expense will help you make other financial decisions down the road that creative financing just can't provide.
3. I wish I hadn't used up all my cash to buy the house.
Your cash expenses when buying a home amount to more than just the down payment. There are also closing costs, appraisal fees, buyer's broker fees, loan application fees, loan broker fees, inspection fees, and other costs to factor.
The down payment and closing costs are your upfront costs. After that, the ongoing costs include property taxes, homeowners insurance, hazard insurance, condo, co-op or HOA fees, and moving expenses. You get the picture.
Don't be left with a zero balance in your checking account by the time you get the keys; prepare for these additional costs ahead of time.
4. I wish I hadn't wasted my time with foreclosures and short sales, only to miss some really good deals.
Just because it's a distressed property doesn't mean it's a good deal; foreclosures aren't a guaranteed bargain. If you're searching for a steal and you want it in a timely manner, avoid short sales and foreclosures.
These deals can drag on for months and generally have higher interest rates. Even if the distressed home is well priced, the hoops you'll have to jump through may just offset your cash savings.
5. I wish I knew the key to buying smart when it came to condos.
There's one question that could save you thousands when buying a condo: Are there any future changes that may result in an assessment for all owners?
It's essential to ask this when buying a condo or a home in a community with a homeowners association. You will want to know if there has been any discussion of possible future improvements, renovations, maintenance, or any financial burdens that would result in an assessment or charges to be leveraged against all condo/home owners.
Get the answer in writing. The association board must answer honestly or it could be held liable. All association meetings must provide notes that can be subpoenaed, so any discussion of assessments, current or future, can be proven.
6. I really wish I had talked to the neighbors before I bought the house.
A few years back, I bought a wonderful home in the Hollywood Hills without mingling with the neighbors first. That rookie mistake cost me many sleepless nights — literally.
Each night, I woke to the sound of two barking, yelping dogs that howled and bellowed all night long. I discovered later that the seller had been fighting with the neighbor over the barking dogs . . . for six months.
It took me more than a year of working with L.A. Animal Control for the dog owners to take responsibility. During the dispute, I was unable to list the house because I would have had to disclose the issue and take a deep discount.
Had I chatted up the neighbors, I would have known the issue from the start, saving me a lot of time and misery.
We all make mistakes when we do something for the first time. It happens, it's life. But buying a home is just too important to flub. Keep these common mistakes in mind and buy smart when it comes time to close on that home.
Interested in buying or selling a home? For more information on the Montecito Luxury Real Estate Market click here to contact Susan Pate or visit

Image Source: POPSUGAR & David Palermo Photography / Grace Hitchcock

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wine, Food & Travel

Looking for the perfect get-away with stunning scenery, superb food and world-class wine? 

First stop is Napa Valley. Explore all Napa has to offer from vintage wine tastings to hot air balloon rides over the valley. Enjoy the lap of luxury at Auberge de Soliel resort, restaurant and spa or the exclusive Foley Johnson Winery in the heart of Napa Valley.                          

Perhaps no other winery captures the casual luxury of Sonoma County better than Chalk Hill Estate. Founded nearly four decades ago, this spectacular 1300-acre property features 300 acres of vineyards, wilderness areas, winery, hospitality center, culinary garden, residence, stables, equestrian pavilion, sports fields, fishing and swimming ponds, and guest houses.

Cycle through the Alsace Wine Route in France and enjoy a unique experience as you explore a part of the region that is nestled between the beautiful Vosges mountains in France and the borders of Germany and Switzerland. Alsace is a region rich in tradition, culture and charm. The famous Route du Vin (wine route) encompasses at least 100 wine producing villages between Strasbourg and Colmar, creating some of the best French wines. This region also offers gourmet cuisine and has more Michelin star restaurants than any other region.

Marlborough’s Awatere Valley is a fusion of awesome scenery and exquisite wines. Visitors love Awatere for its rolling river benches, precise vineyards, natural habitats and Tapuae-O-Uenuku, the 10,000 foot peak that frames and protects the region. Winemakers love Awatere for its combination of cool, dry, growing conditions and shale soils formed millions of years ago by relentless glaciers. Explore the magnificent Wharekauhau Lodge (pronounced "forry-co-ho") which is one of the world's most exclusive and memorable retreats along with Vavasour, one of the oldest wineries in Martinborough, New Zealand.

The Foley Food and Wine Society is an exclusive society dedicated to uniting three of life's biggest passions world-class wine, exceptional cuisine and outstanding destinations. "Together, wine, food, and travel make up three of life's greatest offerings." For more information or to sign up for membership click here

Interested in living the Montecito Lifestyle, enjoying the finer things in life? For more information on the Montecito Luxury Real Estate Market click here to contact Susan Pate or visit

Monday, March 7, 2016

Oscars & the Original Hollywood

This year in the 2016 Oscars for the 88th Academy Awards... 
We watched Leonardo DiCaprio finally take home his long awaited Oscar for his outstanding performance in the Revenant, Jennifer Lawrence stole the show with her gorgeous Dior gown and Chris Rock brought a controversial opening monologue on the issues of diversity. 

If we step back into history we find that the original Hollywood celebrities could be spotted in our very own, Santa Barbara. In the early 1900’s Santa Barbara held the first major film studio, Flying A Studios. Flying A Studios started in 1910 and produced many silent films in the early 1920s. In the last 100 years, Santa Barbara has been a historic backdrop for a variety of movies, a full list is here.

In 1910 Essanay Film Company visited Santa Barbara from Chicago to find a place with better weather and a Spanish style theme for their popular western genre short films. This is where Flying A Studios began production as well because Santa Barbara held urban and rural locations as perfect backdrops for their movies.
Unfortunately, Flying A Studios suffered from the combined effects of World War I and the beginning of the Great Depression. However, Santa Barbara was strong in the minds of some of the greatest directors of all time as a choice for a filming location. Below is a video montage of the Flying A Studios, Directors, Actors, Actresses and movie sets. 


It's no wonder that many upper echelon celebrities are heading back to their original "Hollywood" roots by making Santa Barbara and Montecito a popular destination to purchase property and escape the bustle and crowds in Los Angeles. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood have found privacy and solace in this beautiful seaside town, such as Ellen Degeneres, Rob Lowe, Brad Paisley, Kevin Coster, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and many more. 

But it's more than their original "Hollywood" roots that draws the rich and famous to Santa Barbara and Montecito. With over three hundred days of sunshine, world-famous beaches, rambling mountain-tops and secluded private estates, it's no wonder that Forbes rated it #14 of the most popular places to retire. 

Interested in living like the stars? For more information or listings in Santa Barbara and Montecito Luxury Real Estate Market click here to contact Susan Pate or visit