Find a niche and fill it — that’s Business 101. Santa Barbara is teaming with real estate agents, but Crysta Metzger has discovered how to set herself apart: rentals.
As a Coldwell Banker agent for the past eight years, she has built a strong business in the estate rental market, which has proven steady through the market lows.
Raised in Virginia City, Nev., she came to Santa Barbara nearly a decade ago. A friend suggested she consider real estate, so she began taking classes and earned her agent license. After working under an agent briefly, she sold her first property and found her footing.
In the years since, Metzger has carved out a nice slice of the affluent multimillion-dollar estate rental business.
“Many people who live in Montecito have multiple homes, so their local residence sits vacant,” she said. “When I place good tenants in them, we all win. The owner makes money, and the renters get to live in a gorgeous home they couldn’t necessarily buy.”
Typically she rents $3 million to $10 million homes, which translates to $5,000 to $50,000 a month in rent for occupants.
Metzger says her job requires a mix of skills.
“I am good at reading people — understanding what they need,” she said. “I also have to be incredibly flexible as things move fast and change constantly in this business.”
She offers a range of services, from straight rental to property management and concierge services, including housekeeping, furniture rental and toddler equipment rental. After years of repeat clients, Metzger chooses who she wants to work with these days.
“I am never pushy. I let clients lead the relationship and determine the amount of contact and service they need,” she said, adding that her job offers many ways to be creative. “I often help buying clients envision how they can update or customize a home to suit their needs, and I have a Rolodex of quality contractors to refer as well.”
She also loves the marketing aspect of real estate. Metzger has found a successful formula of print fliers, online and print advertising, as well as keyword buying to move her clients’ properties. She runs listings on MontecitoRental.com, the Multiple Listing Service, Havesandneeds.net, Craigslist, Noozhawk, Google Base, Backpage and Yahoo!
While the real estate industry has seen an overall dip in sales and value, Metzger says business is still good. Her clients come from all over the world and have a variety of needs. Some want a four-week vacation retreat, while others take a one-year lease during a temporary job, and others want to try out living in Santa Barbara before moving here permanently.
“The American Riviera is a special place for many people, and while they can’t live and work here full time, they like a luxurious shorter term getaway,” she said.
Metzger spends her free time working on her own house and garden. She is getting married this month, and the couple will spend their honeymoon backpacking through Malaysia.
In addition to rentals, short sales and bank-owned property sales, Metzger sells properties throughout Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez. Click here for her rental Web site, and click here for her sales site.