Three Questions You Should Ask Before Buying A Santa Cruz Vacation Home

Posted by Lauren Spencer on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 at 12:17pm.

I understand—it's easy to fall in love with Santa Cruz.

For me, it's the amazing beaches and ocean views that make this a great place to own a home, but I'm always surprised by the seemingly endless list of reasons that people have for staying here.

Whether it's touring our local surf spots, or the wineries nestled in redwood-covered hills, there's something for everyone in Santa Cruz. So, it's no surprise that out-of-town buyers are increasingly looking to Santa Cruz for that dream vacation home.

If this sounds like you, let's take a moment to put aside dreams of family BBQs, sightseeing trips, and lazy beach days.

Buying a second property is an important decision, so here are three questions that you should consider before buying a Santa Cruz vacation home, along with some expert tips.

Is Santa Cruz the right place to buy a vacation home?

If you're considering buying a vacation home in Santa Cruz, then you've probably already had an amazing experience here and are just looking for an excuse to return.

However, a vacation property is not somewhere that you’re going to be spending the bulk of your time. So, check to see if you can make a property work for you by renting it out when you’re not visiting.

If your vacation time is limited, then looking for something smaller and more convenient might be the way to go, and hiring a property management company could take the hassle out of being a long-distance owner.

Next, make sure that Santa Cruz is a place that you could see yourself visiting consistently for years to come.

Remember, not every day is going to end with watching a sunset from the wharf, or going on an exciting mountain biking trip - so try and get to know the whole of what Santa Cruz has to offer.

You never know, you may even find something new to love! If you’ve never tried surfing, this is the perfect opportunity to give it a try, or visit during the off-season and speak to your potential neighbors to find out what they love about Santa Cruz.

What kind of properties in Santa Cruz are right for you?

Santa Cruz has a huge number of options for potential property buyers.

The first step in figuring out what's right for you is thinking about your purpose. Not your overall life purpose (although that might be relevant, so perhaps a blog topic for another day!), but rather what you're actually buying a vacation home in Santa Cruz for.

Are you looking for a home away from home, or just a place to keep your bags and gear while you're out adventuring?

Is the property just for you (and perhaps a significant other), or do you expect friends and family to share in the fun?

Or maybe you just see it as an investment opportunity, with some perks on the side? For example, a house may be a better investment, but it can require a lot more work.

Whatever the case may be, choosing the type of property and the area are crucial. You'll need to consider the available services, accessibility, nearby attractions, and local development trends.

You wouldn't want to land that quiet cottage only to have it surrounded by new construction a few years later. And being close to things that your kids might enjoy (like the Boardwalk), might not be relevant once they're all grown up.

If you are planning to rent out the property, you'll also have to answer some of these questions from the perspective of potential tenants. Find a reliable source on what the local rental market is like so you can position yourself for the best results.

To find out more about Santa Cruz real estate, sign up with Lauren Spencer today

Local knowledge is also key when choosing the right area. For example, West Side may have what you're looking for in terms of shops and restaurants, but it's less walkable than the downtown area. And traffic along Highway 1 might impact your daily schedule if you choose to buy in the Capitola or Aptos areas.

To help you make the right choice, see our Santa Cruz community guides.

What are the costs associated with buying a vacation home in Santa Cruz?

So you know what you want, and what you want is a vacation property in Santa Cruz. Now it's time to get down to business.

Buying a vacation property can be even more complicated than buying your first home, so make extra sure that you've considered ALL the potential costs.

Additional costs may include things like:

  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Property management
  • Travel
  • Furniture and decorating
  • Holiday gear
  • Security

Renting out the property can offset some of these, and luckily demand for rentals in Santa Cruz is consistently high, but this will bring its own challenges. For example, if you're a holiday sun-chaser, then you may be using your vacation property precisely when demand for rentals is highest.

Additionally, local zoning laws, construction standards and development plans may affect the long-term value of your property. And not every area in Santa Cruz county allows vacation rentals. That's why it's crucial to find someone with local experience, who knows the ins and outs of the property game.

Taking the plunge on your new Santa Cruz vacation home...

In the end, it's impossible to separate emotion from the decision to buy a vacation home. After all, you wouldn't want to buy at all unless Santa Cruz meant something special to you. This gives you an advantage - if it's the place that you love, then you have a lot of properties to choose from.

Start exploring your options today and you will find something amazing in beautiful Santa Cruz, or contact us to find out about vacation home opportunities that are right for you.

About Lauren Spencer

Award-Winning Santa Cruz REALTOR®

Lauren Spencer is your local real estate expert, specializing in Santa Cruz real estate and surrounding communities—this is where she lives, works, and plays too. Let her know your questions about the community and county and she'll be happy to fill you in on all you want to know! Lauren Spencer has consistently been voted best local REALTOR in Santa Cruz and is always happy to offer her advice and expertise. Call her at: 800.226.4717.

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