On first thought, selling your home by yourself seems to make perfect sense. It doesn't look all that hard, right? So you decide to sell your home the FSBO way (For Sale By Owner). You figure that you can put up a sign. Let people come to look at your house. Review all the offers you are sure to get and pick the best one and you're done. That's all there is to understanding the Santa Cruz County real estate market—right?

Well, not quite. One of the most difficult things for a person trying to sell their own home to do is understand the Santa Cruz County real estate market in order to price their home correctly. All of the above steps will stall without setting a price that will make you happy and get a buyer to sign on the dotted line.

The Price is…

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Unless elaborate decorations, gourmet food and mountains of mess are your idea of fun, I have some suggestions for you on how to make your holidays simpler and less stressful this year.

Use Fewer Decorations in Your Santa Cruz County Home

While National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a fun holiday movie to watch, keeping up with the Griswolds isn’t something you should aspire to. If you’re not sure what to eliminate from your heap of holiday decorations, here are a few tips:

• If it flashes or makes a noise, just say no.  Decorations like that increase stress.
• Display only your most treasured items.
• This year’s mantra should be “less is more.”
• Decorate only those rooms in your Santa Cruz County home that are used during celebrations.
• Instead of…

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Unfortunately, the winter holidays are peak times for thieves and burglars.  Not only are burglaries of Santa Cruz County homes at their highest during the darkest months of the year, there’s also the added temptation of unoccupied Santa Cruz County homes full of expensive gifts.

A recent survey found that 39% of homeowners leave presents under the tree long before Christmas Day, with only 7% of respondents waiting until Christmas Day itself to put the presents on display in their Santa Cruz County homes. If gifts are in full view of passers-by who can see them through the windows, they could provide an incentive for thieves to target the house.

Take greater security measures during the holidays to keep yourself and your property safe.

1. Don’t hide…

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One of the most important maintenance procedures for the exterior of your home is cleaning the rain gutters. Cleaning the gutters can be a tedious task, especially in Santa Cruz County homes that have trees hanging over the roof.

Cleaning the Gutters

1. Gather your gutter cleaning tools.  You’ll need a good pair of gloves to remove the gunk from the gutters, as well as a steady ladder tall enough to put you at a comfortable working height to the gutter. If you have the type of gutters that won’t snag and tear your gloves, you may prefer rubber gloves to keep water from seeping through.  If you don’t like using gloves, consider using a trowel or other tool to scoop the gunk out.

2. Remove all debris from the gutter. Anything removed from the gutter can…

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Rain gutters are essential because they direct rain water away from your home to protect it from water damage. Any home repair professional can tell you about the damage sustained when Santa Cruz County homes don’t have gutters or the gutters haven’t been properly maintained.

Types of House Gutters

• Wood gutters are still in use, especially on older Santa Cruz County homes, but they are perhaps the most difficult to maintain properly. These gutters are prone to rotting, wood and mold. Additionally, they’re an attractant for wood-eating insects. The weight of these gutters requires very strong mounting to compensate in the case of backed-up water. If your home has wood gutters, you may want to update your gutters to one of the more modern options.

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There is no simple way to discover which home-improvement projects will yield the highest return when you’re ready to sell your home. There are many variables that come into play such as the state of the real estate market when you put your Santa Cruz County home up for sale, how old your home is, and the style of your home. 

Here are several costly projects to pass up if you want to get the biggest bang for your bucks:

Extravagant Landscaping

Buyers expect a well-maintained yard; they don't expect the home's value to increase because of it. Beautiful landscaping may encourage potential buyers to take a closer look at your Santa Cruz County home for sale, but it most likely will not add to the selling price. If a buyer is unable or unwilling to put in…

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Myths about Buying Santa Cruz County Real Estate for Sale by Owner

There are a few misconceptions about buying Santa Cruz County real estate for sale by owner (FSBO). 

Sellers aren’t Serious

Some buyers think that the seller isn’t serious about selling the house, that they’re just testing the market.  While this is true in some cases, most sellers are serious and will accept an offer that is close to the asking price.

There’s Something Wrong with the Home

Sometimes Santa Cruz County real estate for sale by owner sits on the market for a while.  Generally, it isn’t because there’s something terribly wrong with the house. 

It may be because the owner isn’t open to negotiations on the sale price.  More often, it’s because the owner doesn’t have the…

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Do you have a small room in your Santa Cruz home that’d you’d like to make larger, but you don’t have the money in your budget to tear down a wall or add on to the room?  By using a bit of creativity, you can make that tiny room look larger without breaking the bank.

Here are 8 low-cost decorating tips to make any room in your Santa Cruz home look bigger:

1. Leave open space.  Place taller pieces of furniture along a wall rather than out in the open space.  To prevent blocking the view into a room, use shorter pieces of furniture like an ottoman or a low table.   The more open space you can see, the larger the room will look.

2. Brighten the room.  A well-lit room looks larger, whether it’s brightened with natural or artificial light.  Remove heavy,…

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Choosing a professional real estate agent can be a very imposing task.  This person is responsible for finding your new home or selling your home, guiding you through the home inspection process and negotiating a good price and terms.  These are important tasks that should be taken seriously.  That’s why finding a skilled real estate agent is key to a successful real estate transaction. 

Here are several tips for interviewing Santa Cruz County real estate agents:

• Interview at least three agents.  Even if you love the first or second agent you interview, promise yourself you’ll interview all three.  You learn more from each interview, and you never know when that third agent is going to be the perfect match for you.

• Ask all three agents the same…

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To find the perfect holiday gifts for new Santa Cruz County home owners, consider gifts that will keep on giving efficiency, convenience and luxury for years to come.  To help with your shopping, here’s my list of seven great holiday gifts for new Santa Cruz County home owners:

1. Gift card to a local home store.  This is the easiest gift to give, and often the most popular with home owners.  It can help finance their bathroom remodel or purchase of a large item like a riding lawn mower.

2. Fireproof safe or lockbox.  A small fireproof safe is the perfect place to store important items such as mortgage papers, home owner’s insurance information and receipts for home repairs.

3. Luxurious bath towels.  You can never have too many big, thick bath…

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