Classic Craftsman Cottage

Address: Gillespie Street | Status: Not on the market | Price: $822,000 | Credit: Darren McClain

Address: Gillespie Street
Status: Not on the market
Price: $822,000

Age-old job-hunting wisdom says that the best time to find a new job is when you already have one. Similarly, employers find that some of the best potential employees are people who are happily employed.

Buying a house is a little different than finding a job. But in a competitive housing market, home seekers and their real estate agents sometimes need to employ similar strategies in order to uncover the perfect home. Sometimes, this means buying a home that’s not even officially on the market.

Jessie Sessions, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties’ Santa Barbara office, seems to have a knack for these off-market deals. Like a good detective looking for clues, Jessie has a skill for finding the exact home her client wants before anyone else even knows it’s available. She has successfully represented buyers of off-market listings seven times in the past two-and-a-half years.

Kitchen at 1407 Gillespie Street

Sessions used her skills recently for my friend Zack. A UCSB alumnus, Zack was ready to move back to Santa Barbara, but he figured he would rent for a while and then buy. Zack was talking to Jessie about his long-term housing goals when he confided that if he could find the perfect house, he might be open to buying right now.

Zack’s dream home had at least two bedrooms and was located in Santa Barbara: preferably in Downtown, the Westside, or the Eastside. Zack prefers older houses, especially Craftsman style. Like most of us, Zack also had a maximum budget. Perhaps most importantly, the house had to have an ideal yard for Zack’s adorable dog, Allie.

Jessie had her work cut out for her. She showed Zack every house on the market, but none of the homes that fit Zack’s criteria felt quite right to him.

Then Jessie sent out feelers to other local real estate agents. If agents are helping a client get a house ready to sell or know that their client is going to be selling soon, sometimes selling it off-market can be an attractive option.

Some sellers want to go through the process of listing their house, hoping that they will receive multiple offers or sell at even more than the listing price. On the other hand, not having to go through listing the house, prepping it, putting a sign in the yard, or enduring open houses can be appealing to others. And as the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. A qualified buyer who can act quickly is not to be taken lightly.

In this case, Jessie described what Zack was looking for, spread the word, and heard back from Ben Rivera, an agent Jessie had worked with before on another off-market transaction. Ben was about to list a three-bedroom Craftsman home on Gillespie Street. His clients had already found a replacement home, so they were hoping to sell quickly.

With all the characteristics of a typical 1930s Craftsman, Zack’s new home is as charming as you’d expect. A thick green hedge surrounds the house, with an archway cut out just wide enough to accommodate a gate. Two palm trees play sentinel over the classic front porch, and an orange mailbox adds a fun jolt of color to the otherwise subtle sky-blue-and-white exterior.

Backyard at 1407 Gillespie Street

The front door opens into the living room with a white-brick fireplace and a built-in window seat. Hardwood floors and wainscoting with picture rail detail continue from the living room into the dining room on the left, bringing continuity and a formal vintage flair. The dining room continues through to the kitchen, laundry room, half bath, and all the way back to the guest bedroom at the rear of the house. The path from the living room leads through two more bedrooms and a bathroom, connecting in a circular layout.

A back door off the kitchen leads out to a fenced backyard perfect for Allie. Fruit trees, space for a vegetable garden, and a nice, flat lawn are all ready for barbecues or other outdoor activities. A stately Canary Island date palm tree towers over the side yard near the garage.

Jessie says that the magic to finding off-market properties lies in timing, relationships, and knowledge of the local market, which were all elements she put into practice for Zack. Since Zack was buying from out of town, Jessie also took care of myriad details and sent Zack videos of everything she did.

Zack and Allie are moving into their new home this week. They’ve already learned the first two rules of life in Santa Barbara: Make things happen rather than waiting for them to happen, and use local experts to get things done. Welcome to Santa Barbara, Zack and Allie.

Jessie Sessions of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties represented the buyer. Reach Jessie at (805) 709-0904 or Ben Rivera of Home Realty represented the seller. Reach Ben at (805) 452-6447 or


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