February 2013

Found 16 blog entries for February 2013.

April 15th seems a long way off, but it will be here before you know it. Now is the perfect time to start getting your ducks in a row — and your paperwork too. Owning real estate can make a big difference on your tax return, so make sure that you’re taking advantage of all the deductions you’re entitled to. We’ve outlined a few below.

Mortgage Interest
Unless you paid cash for your purchase, you probably took out a loan to buy your Santa Cruz home. Mortgage interest is one of the best tax deductions out there, so be sure to hang on to that 1098 form from your bank. You can almost always deduct the entire amount of interest paid per calendar year.

Real Estate Taxes
Depending on where your property is located, you are likely paying real estate tax,

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Whether you are energy conscious or just trying to save money, there are many steps you can take to lower your Santa Cruz home bills while helping the environment at the same time. Below are several energy-saving measures to help you save money either in your current house or future residence.

Heating and cooling
Keeping your Santa Cruz home at a comfortable temperature uses more energy than anything else. To save energy, install a programmable thermostat to adjust the inside temperature when you are not there for long periods of time. Seal windows and doors to prevent air leaks, and close doors and air vents to rooms that are not often used. Changing filters in your heating system monthly can also help it run more efficiently.

Water heaters
Heating

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From deciding on the sale price to closing the final deal, the role of your Santa Cruz real estate agent is to make sure every aspect of the sale process goes smoothly. In order to accomplish this goal, you and your property expert need to be on the same page. Below are a few questions to ask your Realtor before putting your home on the market.

Is my home ready to be sold?

Ask your Realtor their professional opinion as to whether your home is ready to be sold in its current condition or if it would be advantageous to make improvements first. In some cases, a simple renovation can ensure that you get a much better sale price on the home.

How much have other comparable homes sold for in my area?

The answer to this question will help you to get

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Paying off the mortgage on your Santa Cruz home faster not only means that you’ll be able to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with completely owning your property earlier, but you will also save thousands of dollars in interest payments. Below are seven clever tips to help you get your mortgage payments on the fast track.

1. Save for a large down payment
Pay as large a down payment as you can reasonably afford. The more you can put down, then the less you’ll have to borrow from the bank.

2. Read the fine print
When you are choosing a mortgage, look at the fine print to find out if any restrictions apply to paying early. Some lenders will charge you for making extra payments.

3. Prepay early in the life of the mortgage
This is when the loan is the

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Moving everything in your house to your new Santa Cruz home can be an overwhelming task. You never realize how much stuff you actually own until you try to fit it all into boxes and move it somewhere new.

When you are packing up your things to relocate, here are some helpful tips to make your moving experience much easier.

Start packing in advance
You don’t have to wait until the day before you move to start packing everything in your house! As soon as you find out that you are moving, you can start packing the items you don’t often use, such as your seasonal decorations, photo albums and family keepsakes. If you pack a few items per week, you’ll have almost everything packed by the time you are ready to go except for the essentials you use every

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Part of the process of buying a Santa Cruz home includes visiting several open houses so that you can view your options. The idea of an open house is to get a chance to look inside a property you are considering and to get a better idea of whether you want to buy it.

Whenever you are attending an open house, it is important to observe proper etiquette. In order to avoid offending or annoying the homeowners, here are seven tips to keep in mind:

1. If there is a sign out front for an open house, you can feel free to simply enter. However, try to introduce yourself to the real estate agent the first chance you get.

2. Always wipe your feet on the doormat so you don’t track dirt into the house. The owners have probably spent hours cleaning and

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There is a lot of misleading and incorrect information out there when it comes to Santa Cruz real estate short sales. Most people don’t have a clear understanding of the purpose of short sales or how they actually work.

Essentially, a short sale is when you sell your home for less than the balance remaining on your mortgage. The proceeds from the sale are used to repay a portion of the balance. A short sale can be a solution for homeowners who really need to sell their home but owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth.

Understanding the short sale process can help you to get the most out of your Santa Cruz real estate sale. Below are some common myths and why they are false.

A short sale damages your credit record as much as foreclosure
A

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When you are purchasing property, you will likely take a look at many different Santa Cruz homes for sale before making your final decision. Unfortunately, when real estate buyers go to view a house, they often make some crucial mistakes that usually don’t work out in their best interests. Below are a few pitfalls buyers make and how you can avoid them.

Looking at the décor and not the house

Keep in mind that furnishings and décor can make a mediocre house look amazing or an excellent house look merely average. Some buyers are turned off by unattractive or dated décor and then miss out on a great house hiding underneath. When viewing Santa Cruz homes for sale, ignore the owner’s choice of wallpaper or area rugs and focus on what really counts — the

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With tax season in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about how you can save money on what you owe Uncle Sam this year. If you own a Santa Cruz home, there are a few things that may help you lower your tax debt in 2012. You can qualify for energy tax credits if you’ve made certain improvements in the last year.

Here are a few federal tax credits offered for installing energy efficient products in your house. If you did not make any changes in 2012, you may want to take a look at what you could do to lower your taxes next year! These credits expire December 31, 2016, so you have time to implement changes that could help both your tax return and your everyday energy usage.

To receive a tax credit of 30% of cost, with no upper limit, on your

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While we heard plenty about the negotiation battles leading up to the New Year’s looming fiscal cliff, after the fact, many people might not consider how passed legislation personally affects them — especially when it comes to Santa Cruz real estate.

If you haven’t filed your 2012 taxes yet, you might want to take a minute to review the tax limitations and credit extensions, which Congress passed through the HR 8 legislation. You’ll want to ensure you’re paying the right amount when it comes to coughing up your money to Uncle Sam.

Energy Updates
The tax credit for homeowners to receive a ten percent deduction, up to $500, for energy efficient improvements to homes is extended for 2013.

Estate Tax
Individual estates valued at up to five million

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