Home Improvements

Found 211 blog entries about Home Improvements.

Real estate professionals call it staging, or showcasing, the best features of your home to get top dollar when you sell.  Selling your Santa Cruz real estate is a lot like romance, it pays to set the mood.

Here are some tips to make your home show ready:

1. Clear out as much furniture as you can: Donate it, put it in storage, or have a garage sale. Your home needs to look spacious, not cluttered.

2. Nix the cigarettes: Buyers are sensitive to cigarette smells.  Many buyers will not even tour a home if they smell cigarette smoke.

3. Let there be light: Open the blinds and turn on the lights.  If the whole house is dark, that’s a problem.

4. Get a home inspection: Do it now so you’re aware of any problems and can make any necessary repairs

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Preventive maintenance is crucial to the value and upkeep of your home.  Keeping your Santa Cruz real estate in great shape with regular check-ups will save you the headache and cost of emergency repairs.

Here are six items to add to your outdoor spring maintenance checklist:

1. Clean the Gutters:  Gutters work best when clean and free of gunk.  Check yours for foliage, tree limbs, etc., especially if trees hang over the roof.

2. Make sure the downspouts are clean:  They should point at least two feet away from foundation walls.

3. Check exterior paint: Look for chipped, cracked paint.  Scrape off any failing paint, sand it down, prime the surface, and paint it with a high-quality, low-VOC exterior paint.

4. Brighten your Santa Cruz real

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Homeowners and homebuyers want to save money on utility bills and also want to make their Santa Cruz home better for the environment.

Whether you’re prepping your Santa Cruz home before putting it up for sale or you just want to make a few changes so your home is more environmentally friendly, here are 11 ideas to choose from:

1. Put in CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs or LED bulbs that conserve energy: CFLs use a quarter of the electricity as regular bulbs.
2. Upgrade your existing windows: Replace them with high-performance, insulated windows.
3. Use green, non-toxic organic, VOC-free paint: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in paint and harm the air we breathe.
4. Remove your old non-green carpeting: Carpeting can emit allergens and

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Whether you’ve bought and sold a dozen homes or you’re a first-time home buyer, you probably know that after you purchase Santa Cruz real estate, there is usually no option to return or exchange it. Because of this finality, you need to be sure your contract spells out all the conditions you want met before the deal can close. In real estate contracts, these conditions are called contingencies.

Contingencies are the requirements that both the buyer and the seller must meet in order for the closing contract to be valid. If something does not meet specific criteria, the contract must be renegotiated or it becomes null. Below is a list of contract contingencies every buyer should include in their bid — so that you don’t end up with an unexpected

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Spring heralds the arrival of blooming flowers, chirping birds and warmer weather. It is also a perfect time to do some after-winter indoor maintenance.  Here are eight indoor maintenance tips to help keep your Santa Cruz home in perfect operating condition:

1. Change air conditioning unit air filters monthly: Clean air filters help your unit run more efficiently, saving money on your energy bills.

2. Install environmentally-friendly window treatments: Save on utility bills by adding blinds to windows that face south and west. Open windows when the sun sets and close them at sunrise.

3. Examine your sump pump: Make sure the sump pump is operating correctly, and install a battery backup pump. The backup, another pump that floats above the original

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Inspections can turn up repair issues during the Santa Cruz home buying process that can increase your cash outlay as a buyer.  Problems with appliances, plumbing, and HVAC are just a few issues that can crop up.  If you find yourself experiencing repair sticker shock, keep these thoughts in mind: 

• The choice lies with you:  As the buyer, you get to decide whether you want to proceed with the purchase of the Santa Cruz home or not. You are not at the mercy of the seller's demands.  If you can't reach an agreement, then you can opt out of the situation, as long as you’ve included a home inspection contingency in your contract.

• The first estimate you get on the potential repair cost may not be the lowest or most accurate: Before you decide to

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A brand new Santa Cruz home is better than a used home, isn't it? For most people, that's a matter of preference. If you’re unsure which you prefer, consider these five reasons to buy a newly constructed home:

1. You want to pick out everything: Do you want granite or cement countertops? Perhaps you'd like a skylight in your family room or a fireplace in your master bedroom. You get to choose all the fixtures, flooring and faucets. Plan to spend a lot of time making these choices and probably some additional money for upgrades.

2. You want a Santa Cruz home that comes with high-tech and energy-efficient features: You’ll save energy and money with low-flow toilets and shower heads, energy-efficient appliances and higher-efficiency HVAC, doors and

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If you have easy access to your attic, a quick inspection will either put your mind at ease or alert you to situations that need to be remedied before they cause problems. Why is now a good time to check your attic? If you’ve ever been in an attic in the summer, you know why you should do it now.

Here are just some of the things you should check out in the attic of your Santa Cruz home:

• Insulation. Is it adequate? Has it shifted around into peaks and valleys? Is it properly installed? Are there gaps that need to be filled?
• Ducts. Are there open joints in the ductwork? Are the ducts insulated?
• Ventilation. Are vent openings blocked? If you see frost on roofing nails, or rust stains or mildew around roofing nails, it means the attic needs more

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Love it or hate it, winter is here. If you’re having a hard time appreciating that fact, there are some things you can do to make your Santa Cruz home more comfortable this winter, without running up your heat bill. Here are some to try:

• Check and lock windows. Even if you think your windows are shut, go around and check each one to make sure it’s snug - and lock it.

• Use ceiling fans. Consider adding ceiling fans to every room; they truly make a difference. Set them spinning in the correct direction to pull air up this winter so they displace warm air at the ceiling and send it down the walls. Set on the lowest speed, a ceiling fan evens out indoor temperature without creating drafts.

• Invest in insulated window treatments. Stop the costly

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Is there anything cozier than enjoying a warm fire inside during the winter months? There is something primal about watching the flames of a contained fire that reaches back into our ancient human past.

If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace or woodstove in your Santa Cruz home, please follow these precautions:

• Call in a chimney sweep. Every year, you should have your chimney cleaned to remove creosote buildup. This keeps air flow unobstructed and prevents a chimney fire, which would be devastating to your Santa Cruz home. A professional chimney sweep should also check for cracks in the flue liner and proper functioning of the damper.

• Inspect your chimney cap. The chimney cap keeps the rain and snow out of your flue. It also prevents

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