While some folks use birthdays or holidays as annual benchmarks, here at the Independent, one of the ways we mark the passage of each year is with our annual Best of Santa Barbara® issue, and the 2021 edition is out on the streets right now! If you’re unfamiliar with this favorite beast of an issue, it’s the hefty compilation of our readers’ picks for the “Best of” everything in town, from tacos to tour companies, dentists to dog trainers, and campgrounds to cupcakeries. This year, more than 450,000 votes were cast by readers from ages 13 years old to 102 years young.  The popular poll has become a de facto go-to guide for the community, helping guide people’s decisions on the best pediatrician, pizza, and place to hear live music all year long. You get the picture.

Specific to housing, Best of Santa Barbara® celebrates the best real estate company, best real estate agent, and best real estate team. Shout out to Village Properties, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, Elizabeth Wagner, David Kim, The Hall Team, and the Zia Group for placing first and second in each of these coveted categories. 

Kudos also to the essential adjunct services provided by the winners and runners-up for best mortgage company (Montecito Bank & Trust and Cornerstone Home Lending) and best mortgage agent (Austin Lampson and Kelly Marsh) who rose to the top of their competitive categories this year.

There are many other factors that make a house a home. Best of Santa Barbara® readers call out the best roofers, plumbers, painters, and more. Here are a few of the other housing-related businesses that you chose as the best:

This edition of The Home Page was originally emailed to subscribers on March 31, 2024. To receive Sarah Sinclair’s real estate newsletter in your inbox each Sunday, sign up at


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Whether you covet their easy care and environmentally friendly synthetic grass solutions or their beautiful, drought-tolerant landscape creations, EcoLawn is all about highlighting your property’s natural beauty. I hear they are great to work with, and our readers agree!


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Born in San Luis Obispo, Habitat Home and Garden has become a staple on the corner of State and Gutierrez in the few short years since it expanded into Santa Barbara. Visit their showroom for inspiration to reimagine your living room and more. They’ve even got pumpkins sporting succulents for the season.


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With their slogan of “Solar Done Differently,” Brighten Solar Company has earned Santa Barbara’s trust. They call their clients superheroes for their commitment to saving the planet, one kilowatt at a time, and work with commercial and residential properties on solar installations that provide both environmental and financial benefits. We salute you for being one of the BEST.

If you haven’t already done so, Sunday is a great day to take a walk, pick up a copy of this week’s Independent, grab your favorite cuppa, put your feet up, and read about the Best of Santa Barbara®. While you’re at it, tell me — am I the only one who thinks that the adorable island fox on the cover looks more than a little bit like Miss Scout?

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