If you’re hoping to sell your Santa Cruz real estate in 2011, make some New Year’s resolutions to help the process along.   Resolve to:

1. Interview and get a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) from at least three agents from three different Santa Cruz real estate agencies.  Each agent has a different opinion about the value of your home and how to best market your home.  Learn from each agent and then sign a contract with the agent you decide to hire.

2. Research the number of foreclosures and short sales in your neighborhood.  To sell your home, find out how many foreclosures and short sales you’re competing against.  This impacts the value of your property as well as the length of time it takes you to sell.  Your Santa Cruz real estate agent can…

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Most people make New Year’s resolutions to improve themselves.  This year, consider making a few New Year’s Resolutions to improve your Santa Cruz home. 

Here are 6 ideas to choose from:

1. Renovate.  Choose one project you really want to do, and get it done this year.  Add on a deck, make minor kitchen renovations or install a new bathroom floor.

2. Practice home safety.  Practice fire safety by ensuring your smoke alarms work and holding fire drills. Prevent poisoning by keeping cleaners, medications and beauty products in a place where children can’t reach them and using child safety locks.  Avoid falls by having bright lights over stairs and steps and on landings. Also, keep stairs clear of clutter.

3. Test for radon.  Radon is a significant…

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If the thought of buying a Santa Cruz  home in 2011 has even so much as flitted through your mind, here are six New Year’s Resolutions you should consider making:

1. Review your credit reports.  To determine the interest rate and terms of your mortgage, lenders pull credit scores from each of the three credit reporting bureaus:  Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union.  You need to go through all three credit reports and dispute any credit report errors.

2. Establish a good credit rating.  To take advantage of today's low interest rates, your credit score needs to be above 760. The higher, the better.  To improve your credit rating, fix all errors in your credit reports and practice good credit behavior by paying your bills on time and in full each month.

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Frequently, there are news stories that impact our Santa Cruz  real estate market.  Here are two I want to share with you this month:

Rising Interest Rates Could Get Buyers Moving

Rising interest rates may finally push Santa Cruz  real estate buyers off the fence and into the market.

In December, after President Obama agreed to extend tax cuts for two years, the financial markets  indicated this event would most likely push mortgage interest rates higher.

Analysts predict that buyers will move quickly when it looks like rates are going up and are unlikely to come down. "Once people see this might actually be the bottom, they’ll go for it," says Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics Ltd.

For an example of interest rate increases, note what…

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Now is a great time to get into the investment real estate market. Not only does investment property give you a real tangible asset for your portfolio, you can also get Santa Cruz County real estate investments at great prices right now.

Here are four ways to make money from Santa Cruz County real estate investments that you might want to consider.

• Rental properties.  Not everyone enjoys owning rental property, but it is one of the most profitable ways to make money from real estate.  Rental properties give you a constant residual income that lasts as long as you keep the property.

• Flipping. While the house flipping craze of the 80s and 90s cooled down with the current mortgage and housing crunch, for serious investors who take the time to know…

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When you fell in love with your new Santa Cruz County home and then got a “yes” from the sellers, you were probably on cloud nine for days. Getting approved for a mortgage on your new Santa Cruz County home went without too many hitches. 

Now, you are lying in bed—sweating. You only have a few days until closing and you toss and turn with visions of mortgage payments dancing in your head.

Take heart, you are not alone. It is a familiar scenario that happens to just about everyone faced with signing on the bottom line for a new home and 30 years worth of payments. It's called buyer's remorse. It is the equivalent of a soon-to-be bride’s cold feet.  Even though she knows she’s found her perfect match, the idea of a happily ever after forever—FOREVER, is…

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Before you put your Santa Cruz home up for sale, you want to make sure it looks as attractive and modern as possible. Buyers usually walk away from a Santa Cruz home for sale with outdated color schemes and fixtures. This is especially true of bathrooms. Even if you lack the budget and space to turn your bathroom into a spa-like retreat, you can still give this room a quick facelift.

1. Get creative with color. If you don’t have the time or budget to replace dated ceramic tile, try camouflaging it with towels, rugs, and other accessories for a more modern color scheme. For example, you can pair pink with brown or bright blue with light green.

2. Replace your fixtures. Brushed aluminum and pewter bathroom fixtures are more modern than the shiny chrome…

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Times change but not always for the best.  Consider the change we’ve seen in attitudes toward Santa Cruz real estate over the last few decades. 

Owners used to love their homes because they were their safe havens.  Many now only worry about whether or not their houses will appreciate enough in value to allow them to refinance to buy luxury vacations in Hawaii or a new car.

What’s your stance on the Santa Cruz real estate you own or wish to own some day?   Is it a house or a home to you?  There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, simply a varying point of view.

It’s a house if you:

• Bought it because you want to build equity
• Value it most because of its monetary value
• Worry primarily about it because it might lose some of its value in…

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House flipping is still a profitable way to invest in Santa Cruz County real estate, if you know what you’re doing. I’m going to share one of the biggest mistakes prospective home flippers make and how to avoid it.

Choosing the Wrong Santa Cruz County Real Estate to Flip

Nothing will make your venture into the world of house flipping a bigger nightmare than a finished product that will not sell. To avoid this, learn all you can about what’s currently selling the fastest and for the most money in your real estate market.

It doesn't mean you have to pick expensive homes in up-scale neighborhoods.  In fact, those may be the worst properties to try to flip, depending on your market.  Typically, there are houses you can flip for profit in every price…

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Trends for national and Santa Cruz homes come and go depending on many factors including the needs and desires of buyers, changes in technology and economic issues.

Here are some 2011 design trends predicted for national and Santa Cruz homes.

Kitchens Continue to be the Heart of the Home
People still love kitchens that are open and airy.  Popular kitchen countertops will embrace the green movement switching from granite to crushed recyclable glass under a solid, smooth surface.

Energy Efficiency Remains Important
According to The Joint Center for Housing Studies, homeowners and builders alike continue to make homes more energy efficient.  This is led by regional certification programs as well as national green building standards.

Vintage is Hot

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