Because buying Santa Cruz real estate is one of the most important and expensive purchases you’ll ever make, it's worth the time to consider ways you can save money.  Here are a few ideas on how to save money on your mortgage and closing costs:

Pay Attention

You have to pay attention to how much the Santa Cruz real estate costs. You have to pay attention to how much the house is worth and how much more you may have to put in the kitty for any repairs that may need to be done. Use these details to negotiate.

Negotiate with the Seller

Negotiating with the seller is expected.  You already know you can negotiate on the price of the home, but did you know you can also negotiate who pays the closing costs?  In this buyer's market, it has become common to…

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Thousands of potential buyers of homes for sale in Santa Cruz are now homeowners, thanks to the first-time homebuyer tax credit. You could be eligible for a tax credit if you bought a home in 2009 or plan to buy one before April, 2010.  But which one are you eligible for?

If you have two or three hours to spend reading the information about the homebuyer tax credit, you'll be able to figure out if you're eligible.  But, most people don’t have the time or patience. To shorten your learning curve, here are a few tips, pointers and frequently asked (and answered) questions about the tax credit:

Three Kinds of Homebuyer Tax Credits
There are actually three kinds of tax credits:

1. The original first-time homebuyer tax credit, enacted in 2008, covers the…

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A Seller’s Market? Hard to believe, but many homes drawing multiple offers again as listing shortages continue

My how things have changed in just one year! A year ago at this time, many homes were languishing on the market as buyers stayed on the sidelines, worrying about their jobs, the sharp decline in their 401k accounts, and whether housing prices would ever rise again. Today, many of those buyers have swallowed their fears and are out in force once again, spurred by an improving economy, a solid recovery in the financial markets, and federal home buyer tax credits that will expire this spring.

While no one claims the housing market is out of the woods yet, an unusual dynamic is occurring in many communities around the Bay Area:  Despite the choppy…

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Last November, when Congress approved an extension on the first-time homebuyer tax credit, potential homebuyers who missed the original deadline were excited. It was another chance to buy a Santa Cruz home for sale and receive an often badly needed $8,000 on their tax return.

Real estate agents were excited as well, because the tax credit extension expanded to include “upgrade” buyers – those who wanted to replace their current home with a bigger one. The possibility of selling a home was higher than it’d been in a while. However, expansion to include upgrade buyers wasn’t the only change.

If you’re hoping to buy a Santa Cruz home for sale and take advantage of the tax credit before the new 2010 deadlines, here are a few things to keep in mind:

• Two…

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The FHA, or Federal Housing Administration, has helped many a homeowner buy a Santa Cruz home for sale by providing mortgage insurance through FHA-approved lenders. However, a change in policy, announced in January, may make it harder for those with poor credit.

Before we talk about FHA's change in policy, let's cover a few of the basics about the FHA and how it might help you buy a home for sale.

What is the FHA?
The FHA is a government agency that provides mortgage insurance to approved lending institutions.  It assists homebuyers by providing mortgage insurance to lenders to cover most losses that may occur when a borrower defaults.  This encourages lenders to make loans to borrowers who might otherwise not be able to get a loan.

What is an FHA Loan?

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If you have a Santa Cruz home for sale and it’s sitting vacant, it's a perfect target for vandals. The signs are obvious, such as uncut grass and lights that never come on. In fact, a vacant house doesn’t just look vacant; it feels vacant.

Vandals aren’t the only problem for a vacant home for sale, however. The other problem is that a vacant home usually sells for less and sits longer than a well maintained, occupied home. So what’s the solution?

Well, if you live close by, you can visit the home, cut the grass, turn the lights on and keep it maintained. However, if this is more trouble than you’d rather go through, there’s another option – a live-in home stager.

You’ve probably heard or read a slew of information about home staging. If you haven’t,…

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The extension of the homebuyer’s tax credit, as well as the expansion to include upgrade homebuyers, has a lot of people looking for their dream home. Many are looking for that dream home in the listings for Santa Cruz foreclosures. Why?

The Law of Supply and Demand
Quick marketing lesson: every market is dependent on the law of supply and demand. When the demand for a product is higher than the supply, prices go up. When there’s more product than demand, prices go down.

This is what’s happening now, especially with Santa Cruz foreclosures. Around the U.S., the supply of homes has doubled in the past two years, reaching as high as a ten-month supply. While homebuyers have been reluctant to buy a foreclosure in the past, people are starting to rethink…

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Selling your Santa Cruz home is more than just setting a sale price and placing a sign in your front yard. It is an emotional process that can be stressful and frustrating. Here’s what you can expect to face:

• Putting your home on the market. You may have a difficult time deciding to put your house on the market even if you are being forced to move because of work or family situations. Your home holds memories that can be difficult to leave behind. You may even second guess your decision. This is a normal reaction.

• Showing your home to potential buyers. As buyers walk through your home, you may begin experiencing a new set of emotions. Your home will usually be cleared of excessive family mementos and seem lifeless to you. Keeping your home clean for…

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If you’re buying Santa Cruz real estate and talking to lenders, you’ll hear about the Good Faith Estimate. Because the Good Faith Estimate is required by law and lists all the costs associated with a mortgage, including closing fees with estimated pricing, it's a good place to start when searching for a lender.

Best practice for buying Santa Cruz real estate is to shop for lenders first. While you’re looking, ask for a Good Faith Estimate and then compare them. This will be your first indication about which lender is best for you.

Not All Estimates are Created Equal
Many closing fees for buying real estate are considered typical and have an average price range, such as:

• Title search and title insurance: $450 - $600
• Appraisal: $150 - $400


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If you're getting a mortgage on a home, your lender will require an appraisal. This is performed by a licensed appraiser who evaluates your home and determines its value. Here is a guide to your Santa Cruz home’s appraisal terms.
• Age: The actual age of your home is how long since your home has been built. The effective age is the adjusted age of your home based on improvements and repairs.

• Adjustments: Comparison Santa Cruz homes are usually not exact replicas of your home. The appraiser will make adjustments for things like premium views or swimming pools to bring the home values closer together.

• Appraisal: This is the estimated value of your home based on the appraiser’s documentation.

• Comparison approach: A type of appraisal in which your…

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