All Blog Entries by Lauren Spencer

There are currently 1,002 blog entries published by Lauren Spencer.

Many people think that Santa Cruz real estate agents have it pretty easy.  Once they start investigating, however, they find that being an agent is a difficult and time consuming job.

Real Estate Training
All states, including the District of Columbia, require agents to be licensed which requires hours of training and test taking. 

Depending on the state, you need between forty and ninety hours of specific coursework. 

Once the coursework is completed, you have to pass a state exam on real estate law and practice.  In most states, an agent then has to find a real estate broker to work with.

To become a broker and be able to manage their own brokerage, Santa Cruz real estate agents have to gain experience.  This means more coursework, as well as a

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When buying a newly constructed Santa Cruz home, you have a chance to decide what type of lighting to use.  If you don't know about lighting styles and uses, or want to learn more, read these lighting guidelines.

Types of lighting
• Ceiling lights are generally used in living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms – large areas.  One type of ceiling light is called a can, or recessed light, and is set into the ceiling to provide extra lighting when necessary.

• Track lights give a spotlight look, and focus light on a specific area of a room.  You can use these to highlight artwork on walls and pedestals, or above fireplaces.  Track lighting gives any room a more contemporary feel.

• Fluorescent lights add a lot of light without a lot of heat.  This type of

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Buying a Santa Cruz condo may be the answer to your home ownership dream.  They are usually lower maintenance than a traditional home, and most of them come with amenities.  Here are a few things to consider before you set your heart on a condo:

Identify the Living Space You Need
One of the first things you’ll need to do is sit down and make a list of what you want in your home.  How many bedrooms do you need?  Do you need one bathroom or two?  Do you need a one-level condo or do you prefer a two-story townhome?  What amenities do you want - swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts? 

Read the Convenants, Conditions and Restrictions
This is the set of rules that govern condominiums.  They may include rules on renting, remodeling and noise levels to

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Buying newly constructed Santa Cruz real estate isn't much different from buying an "already used" home.  What variances there are, however, can make all the difference between buying a diamond or a lemon.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when buying new construction:

Tip #1: Don't use the builder's sales agent - hire your own.
If they're the builder's agent, they're being paid to represent the builder, no matter what they tell you.  Your own Santa Cruz real estate agent, who is representing you, is required to tell you the negatives as well as the positives.  The builder's agent doesn't have to tell you the drawbacks of the transaction.

Tip #2: Find your own lending agency.
Again, if you go through the builder, the lending agency may offer you a deal

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All the talk is about how the President's stimulus plan helps out new and first time home buyers.  The good news is that it also helps homeowners.  You can get stimulus plan benefits from your existing Santa Cruz real estate too.  Add a little green living to your environment and you'll be pocketing some change at the end of the year from your income tax return.

Under the stimulus plan, both eco-friendly new home purchases and eco-friendly improvements on existing homes are tax deductible. Now's the time to make your home more energy efficient and get a break at the end of the year for your efforts.

Going green saves money, makes your living environment healthier, and improves the world we live in. To reap the benefits from the stimulus plan, you can

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The new stimulus bill gives first-time home buyers a tax credit of $8,000! Whether the Santa Cruz real estate you purchase is new or a re-sale there are always things you can do to make improvements. Here are a few ideas on how you can use the tax break for your new home.

• Put in all new appliances. $8,000 will buy a nice set of kitchen and laundry appliances, and enough groceries to fill up that new refrigerator for several months on top of it.

• Furnish a room. Many times a new home means old furniture just won't fit in or fill it up. $8,000 goes a long way to decorating a new room or two.

• Put on a porch. The stimulus money can be used to add value to your Santa Cruz real estate by making additions like a patio or porch. It will make your new home

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Waiting to hear back from a seller on an offer you made on a Santa Cruz home for sale can be nerve wracking.  Since sellers aren’t obligated to respond immediately, you may spend time waiting anxiously by the phone.  When your agent finally calls you, it’s with the news that the seller has a “counter” out on the property already.  What does that mean?  Is your offer out the window?

Not exactly.  In some states, a seller is allowed to counter or respond to as many offers to buy their home as they want.  If the seller has responded to a buyer’s offer with a counter-offer and then receives an offer from a second buyer that is better, the seller does not have to accept the first buyer’s offer.  The seller simply takes back the counter-offer and accepts the

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There are great incentives for first-time Santa Cruz real estate buyers. Big tax incentives and money put into the banking and financing industries to give buyers more availability to loans makes now the best time to move when looking for a home. This environment won't last—exactly. Some of the elements put in place are geared toward a strong future for the housing market, but many of the advantages are only good for now.

Tax Relief

First-time Santa Cruz real estate buyers, meaning those who have not owned a home in the past three years, are eligible for a big tax break on income taxes. Next year at tax time all buyers have to do is report the new home purchase to get $8,000 dollars back. That's a big incentive. The drawback is it’s only good for this

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I heard someone earlier this week say that the housing market has gone from a slow crawl to a brisk walk.  I think that is the perfect metaphor to explain the recent changes in the real estate market.  The market is coming back.  It’s not roaring, but it’s coming back.
 
This week, according to Reuters.com, U.S. mortgage applications jumped as record low interest rates spurred a surge in demand for home refinancing loans.  The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications, which includes both purchase and refinance loans, increased 32.2 percent to 1,159.4 for the week ended March 20.  Refinancing accounted for 78.5 percent of all applications.
 
Furthermore, interest rates on mortgages fell after the Federal Reserve

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No matter where you live, you are at risk for some sort of natural disaster, crime, or accident. Since you never know when disaster will strike, you need homeowner’s insurance to protect from loss. Finding the right insurance policy is extremely important, so here are some ideas to consider when looking for homeowner’s insurance for your Santa Cruz home.

• DO make sure you choose a reputable agent and insurance company. Unless you’re well versed in current insurance laws and practices, you will rely heavily on your agent’s advice. This is not the time to do your own work.

• DO buy the right amount of insurance. A lower premium may seem like a great idea now, but you may feel differently if you suffer a major loss. Consider what it will cost you to

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