Local businesses find ways to help their community
Local real estate companies have seen a boom in sales during the pandemic.
And they’re sharing their good fortune by finding unique ways to give back to the community.
Cristal Clarke has donated $100,000 to Berkshire Hathaway Charities in support of local charities in the community.
Cristal Clarke serves buyers and sellers in Montecito, one of the most affluent communities in the U.S.
“As a result of the restrictions imposed on businesses due to COVID-19, what became apparent at a very early stage was the need to support local businesses, which are the mainstay and fabric of our community, more than ever,” owner Cristal Clarke told the News-Press in an email. “It was important that once we emerged from the restrictions, our local businesses were still in place to serve our community.
“With that in mind, it was incredibly important that we as a community pay forward our local businesses to give them funds to survive. I made the decision very early on to pay forward all the people I do business with — restaurants, dentists, chiropractors, photographers, hairdressers, etc. — so they had some sort of income to support themselves during those uncertain times.
“Thankfully with the support of this great community, I believe we are stronger now than before, and it is gratifying to be able to continue the support through this donation to the Santa Barbara chapter of The Charitable Foundation.”
In 2020, Ms. Clarke’s sales exceeded $260 million.
She is ranked No. 1 overall in the Santa Barbara MLS (multiple listing services) by sales volume and ranked No. 2 overall in the Santa Barbara MLS by units. She is also ranked as the No. 1 BHHS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services) agent in California by sales volume.
And she is ranked as the No. 1 BHHS agent worldwide by sales volume out of more than 60,000 agents.
Among her other accomplishments in 2020, she closed 59 transactions and represented 37 sellers and 22 buyers.
“At the onset of COVID-19 no one, in real estate, could have foreseen what would happen in the local real estate marketplace, myself included,” Ms. Clarke said. “In fact, many companies, agents and news organizations were forecasting doom and gloom for the housing market, which turned out to be entirely opposite from the reality of what happened.
“While the real estate market received tremendous growth in sales volume and prices, which is still present in today’s market, many local businesses saw the opposite reaction and were struggling to stay open.” she said.
Ms. Clarke has an advantage in dealing with international clients with whom she has developed a stellar rapport. She was born in Europe and after extensive travel moved to Santa Barbara from Laguna Beach in 1977.
“Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties embodies the core principles that I believe should be evident in every company. It continues to provide community-based support through The Charitable Foundation with donations to over 30 local charities, all of which provide a wide variety of support throughout the local community,” Ms. Clarke said.
Her intense interest in the arts led her to a degree in art history and architecture from UCLA. Prior to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Ms. Clarke had a distinguished tenure at Pitts & Bachman, Santa Barbara’s revered real estate firm.
“The Charitable Foundation is one of many local companies that supports our community in a variety of ways,” Ms. Clarke said. “Those of us lucky enough to call Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities home, especially those of us who are fortunate enough to have been involved in real estate in the past few years have a responsibility to give back to this community which has given us so much over the years … After all, the people, the places and the sense of community found here is one of the biggest driving forces in why people want to call Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities home!” said Ms. Clarke.
Cristal Clarke is not the only one giving back to the community. Renee Grubb, owner of Village Properties Realtors, is also the founder of the Teacher’s Fund, a Santa Barbara nonprofit, which gives grants to teachers for them to purchase school materials and supplies for their classroom.
“Our sales numbers have stayed consistently high compared to the years prior to COVID-19. There is huge demand for Santa Barbara real estate with many homes selling with multiple offers at or above the listing price. We see supply and demand forces at work everyday in our market and are confident that if more homes were to come up for sale in the Santa Barbara area, our number of sales would be even higher than the current statistics,” Village Properties agent Brianna Johnson told the News-Press in an email.
“When the pandemic first hit, real estate was deemed non-essential. The governor reversed within 10 days, still following protocol. All of a sudden the market exploded in July of 2020, and it hasn’t stopped since then. We are continuing with strong expectations into 2022,” Ms. Grubb told the News-Press.
“We saw a huge impact on our Santa Barbara area housing market throughout COVID-19,” Ms. Johnson told the News-Press. “As homes became more and more important to people, we saw needs changing. People were (and still are) looking for more space, valuing outdoor home entertainment like pools and eating areas and space to roam, looking for home offices or detached home office structures, and homes that can entertain the family.”
Ms. Grubb is known for her passionate philanthropy and her focus on giving back to the community. The following is stated on the Village Properties website (villagesite.com): “Our agents do more than just sell homes. They teach, coach, volunteer, fundraise and champion nonprofits to make a difference in the community that they serve.”
The Teacher’s Fund started in 2002 when Ms. Grubb started seeing a lot of articles about lack of funding for education and teachers paying out of pocket for school supplies.
“The unique thing about the Teacher’s Fund is that the grants actually fund the classroom, and the teacher decides how to spend it. As teachers geared up to teach virtually in summer of 2020, the fund sponsored much of the software needed. Most of the schools that ask for supplies are Title I schools,” said Ms. Grubb.
Title I schools typically serve lower-income areas.
In September, the Teacher’s Fund hosted its annual Back-to-School Drive with a goal of raising $60,000 to support Santa-Barbara teachers, as they welcomed back their students to the classroom this fall.
They surpassed this goal by more than $2,000. This year’s drive was especially needed to support local teachers and students alike as they make the transition back to an in-person educational format.
“I have always thought that as a real estate industry you can still volunteer and do things, even in times of recession. We just keep fundraising and would love to see competitors do more in this good market,” said Ms. Grubb, who has been a successful real estate professional since 1983 and is the former president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors.
Ms. Johnson echoed these sentiments: “I am beyond grateful to work with a company that values our Santa Barbara community so much and puts such a huge emphasis on giving back through the Teachers Fund and many other nonprofits. Being born and raised in Santa Barbara, I attended all local schools growing up and love that I am now able to help supply our local classrooms with the tools and supplies the students need to grow and thrive.
“It feels like it’s come full circle, and I’m really glad I can help make a difference in our community through the Teachers Fund,” she said. “Village Properties makes it easy for us to get involved, and we always love seeing the ‘Thank you’ notes and drawings from the classrooms we are able to help supply! You can really see how your donation impacts the kids.”
Added Ms. Grubb, “I think the teachers are amazing. We respect their difficult job of teaching children. They have a creativity that we are able to fund things that aren’t even on the radar such as plays, art projects. I love the teachers that think outside the box and come up with creative things for students to do.
“We get so many thank-you notes and photos. It’s a wonderful thing. It really is.”