Success can be defined in many ways. In real estate, the numbers speak for themselves.
Darlene is the #1 sales broker in Santa Fe and the State of New Mexico since 2012, based on sales volume according to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors MLS. She is also #2 of all U.S. Sotheby’s International Realty Brokers in 2018, of all company-owned agencies nationwide. And of all Real Estate Agents in the U.S., Darlene ranks 67th in sales volume.
For Darlene, it has been persistence, hard work, and a gift for intuiting her clients’ needs – along with sourcing solutions for her clients at every step along the way.
Extraordinary personal service and a passion for helping her buyers and sellers sets Darlene apart and contributes to her exceptional success.
Featured Property: 5 Chippewa Circle, Santa Fe NM
This property offers an expansive 5-bedroom, 6-bath home on one level in the gated community of Las Campanas, on 3.5 acres. The home is a total remodel by Woods Contruction, just completed, and elegantly appointed with diamond plaster walls and radiant heat stone floors.
Natural light flows through skylights and clerestory windows. The living room, with high ceilings accented with crossed vigas and large fireplace flows into the dining area, surrounded by mountain and garden views. The meticulously designed chefs’ kitchen features built-in Sub-Zero refrigerators, Wolf double ovens, a large center island with an 8-burner gas Wolf range, Taj white quartz counters, integrated sinks, food prep areas, walk-in pantry and kiva fireplace.
The large private master bedroom boasts a fireplace, mountain views, solid walnut herringbone pattern wood floors, and custom walnut built-in cabinets flanked by matching walk-in closets. Two luxurious master en suite bathrooms are excellent accompaniments, one furnished with a modern soaking tub, walk-in shower, steam room, oversized custom dual sink vanity, towel warmers, all complemented by elegant tile and stone floors.
Outdoor living offers an easy-access grand portal, fireplace and grilling area, contemporary heated swimming pool and spa surrounded by stone patio, and a roof top deck with 360-degree views of the mountains and golf course. A short 10-mile commute to the heart and history that is the Santa Fe Plaza.
A desire for a serene coastal experience continues to fuel the luxury market in Orange County.
Orange County, California used to be defined by citrus groves and theme parks, but has evolved into one of the nation’s premier luxury residential markets. While some prices have begun to soften, several of the region’s top agents see strength moving into 2020.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties’ Mariann Cordova reports luxury sales activity eased in 2019, but submits low interest rates and a fundamentally strong economy provide a counterbalance to negative sentiment generated by political uncertainty. “When people are making money, they’re spending money,” insists Cordova, who reports coastal areas like Laguna Beach and Newport Coast hold value best, followed by prestigious inland gated communities like Shady Canyon and Coto de Caza. The agent currently lists a 9,400-square-foot Mediterranean estate — the seller is former hockey superstar Teemu Selänne — in Coto de Caza for $6.9 million.
“The luxury market has suffered more than any other sector,” maintains Surterre Properties’ Chris Valli, who notes the trend began at least two years ago. He suggests the Orange County market has been impacted by the new tax laws, which effectively penalize high-value/high-tax states like California, but also reminds clients the market is experiencing a natural cycle.
“For over five years we went straight up and buyers began thinking prices were getting too high,” says Valli, who expects activity to rebound in the second half of 2020. He believes buyers waiting on the sidelines will soon enter the market and reports election years are historically active. The agent currently offers a sleek 6,500-square-foot ocean-bluff home in Laguna Beach — the charming beach town is becoming a showplace for modern residential architecture — at $13.5 million.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SMITH GROUP
Newport Beach, a perennially fashionable community where yacht slips are as important as driveways, remains a strong market. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Tim Smith set the record last year for the most expensive sale on Newport Harbor, which he believes represents the quintessential luxury Orange County lifestyle — even more so than the region’s signature coastal bluffs. “There’s a connection to the ocean you experience when you live on the harbor that you can’t get anywhere else,” insists Smith, dubbing the area “Billionaires’ Bay.”
Characterizing the market as fragmented, Smith explains, “For new construction in great locations, we’re still setting records,” but acknowledges price pressures on less pristine properties. Smith currently offers a 9,609-square-foot, design-forward home in the oceanfront community of Corona del Mar for $24.995 million.
Jacqueline Thompson of Surterre Properties reports 2019 was among her best years and knows of many clients waiting to buy in 2020. “The number of international buyers, especially from China, has declined, but local money is very viable and results in many all-cash offers,” she says. Thompson concedes luxury purchasers still gravitate to the coast, and currently lists a two-estate compound on Newport Coast’s Pelican Point for $19.5 million. However, the agent closed two $11 million-plus cash transactions in Irvine’s amenity-rich Shady Canyon last year.
Orange County offers a wide range of properties, from glass-ensconced beach houses to palatial Mediterranean estates like La Casa Pacifica, listed by Compass’ Rob Giem for $57.5 million. While Thompson’s all-cash offers are illustrative, some agents insist that even super-affluent buyers can be motivated by low interest rates, choosing to put their own funds to work elsewhere. The cumulative effect of recent interest rate cuts, according to Coldwell Banker’s Smith, results in a 12-15 percent increase in purchasing power.
Follow the Poplar trees along the long driveway of the manor featured on our cover, and you arrive at a perfectly executed example of Georgian architecture. Surrounded by gardens, fruit trees, pastures, a riding arena and a six-stall barn, it could be mistaken for an East Coast hunt country classic, but this stunning estate occupies approximately 5.8 acres in Los Ranches Estates in Orange County’s Coto de Caza.
Inside, the residence represents the historical aesthetic but with a refined and decidedly Southern California interpretation. Spaces are sunny and airy with stunning appointments, premier craftsmanship and indulgent finishes. Here, new and old come together to create a home that is current but timeless.
A curved stairway with inset panels lends a charming flourish to a dramatic entry. Often treated as a fifth wall, the ceilings enhance the singular ambiance of each room. The library features a stunning fireplace and an ebony glazed wood paneling, intricate wood ceiling treatment and heavy iron glass doors opening to adjacent outdoor spaces. Walls clad with rustic stone lead to a subterranean wine cellar and tasting room.
The spacious family room with a detailed metal coffered ceiling, fireplace and French doors leads to a secluded garden with a fireplace, covered pavilion and outdoor kitchen. Formal living and dining rooms increase options for entertaining. A covered cabana adjoins the swimming pool. The architecture is significant and the interior spaces dazzle, but what makes this estate special is that it is as entirely-fenced total refuge. A separate guest house includes three bedrooms, two baths, gourmet kitchen and large deck. The six-stall barn with turnout includes tack, office and storage for grain and hay.
Mariann Cordova with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties is offering this estate for $15.9 million, a price that reflects value more than cost.
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Unique Homes Magazine.