As a society, it seems like we’ve gotten away from appreciating our Santa Cruz homes for their emotional and sentimental worth.  Instead, we focus solely on their monetary value. 
An appraiser can estimate a Santa Cruz home's monetary value, but to gain a true concept of your home’s worth, you must also take into consideration:

1. Pride of ownership.  You don’t buy a pair of Prada shoes because you’re going to be able to resell them and make a profit.  You buy them because they make you look good and feel good.

2. Security and stability.  Your home provides a roof over your head that’s in your control.  You can decorate it how you want.  You don’t have to worry about a landlord selling the property or asking you to move out.  In the “olden days” (or…

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For some frustrated sellers, the answer to “Why isn’t my home selling?” is “It’s the agent’s fault!”  If your immediate instinct is to drop your Santa Cruz real estate agent for a new one, you might want to take a deep breath and consider the following:

1. Do you think agents are like lottery tickets?  Going through Santa Cruz real estate agents as fast as scratch-off lottery tickets isn’t going to get your home sold faster.  In fact, it usually slows down the process.

2. Is your home priced correctly?  That’s probably the number one difference between homes that sell fast and homes that sit on the market.  A poorly priced home could be your agent’s fault.  Then again, you could be partially to blame.  Did you insist on a specific price even though your…

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You know it’s a buyer’s market.  But you really need to sell your home now.  Here are 6 tips to get Santa Cruz homes sold even in today’s real estate market:

1. Price your home competitively from the start.  Ask your agent to find out what similar homes in your neighborhood sold for in the last 6 months.  Don’t bother looking at pricing prior to that.  And don’t base your decision on listing prices.  A lot of homeowners price their Santa Cruz homes high to start with but end up drastically reducing the price in order to get them sold.

2. Offer incentives.  There are a lot of similar properties on the market, so in addition to competitively pricing your home, you should consider including incentives.  You could offer a home warranty, to pay part of the…

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Ideally, to make a room light and bright you want a lot of large windows that let in natural light. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have large windows in every room of our Santa Cruz homes.  So, what do we do to brighten those dark rooms?

Increase Natural Light

If a room has one large window, make the most of this natural light by placing a mirror opposite that window.  The mirror will scatter and reflect the ambient daylight throughout the room.

Add Artificial Light

Another great way to lighten window-challenged rooms in your Santa Cruz home is to add artificial ambient lighting.  Ambient lighting, whether natural or artificial, sets the tone and mood of each room. Here are several ways to add artificial ambient light to your rooms:

• Recessed…

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Considering deflated real estate values, you might wonder if buying national and Santa Cruz  real estate still makes good financial sense.  According to the National Association of REALTORS® eighth annual Housing Opportunity Pulse Survey, nearly 8 out of 10 respondents believe buying a home does make good financial sense.

Surprised?  Let’s examine three reasons Americans believe buying national and Santa Cruz  real estate remains a good financial choice:

1. Lower home prices and low mortgage interest rates are making homes more affordable. 

2. Almost 7 out of 10 believe that home values have stabilized in their area; the same number expects home sales to remain about the same through the end of the year.

3. The rate of foreclosures is also seen as…

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According to a recent study, buyers prefer to work with Santa Cruz real estate agents who live in the neighborhood in which they want to buy a home.  Buyers are happier when they work with local agents because they believe the agents are:

1. Familiar with the neighborhood.  They know the schools, zoning laws and crime rates.  They can tell you the best places to shop and give you referrals to the best mechanics and home contractors. 

2. Knowledgeable about the Santa Cruz real estate market.  Local agents know the history of houses; they know the streets on which properties sell faster and for more money; and they can steer you towards the better deals.

3. Involved in the community.  Agents who are involved in community improvement projects are doing…

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Are you a first-time home buyer?  There are a lot of things you’ll want to learn before making that first purchase.  Here are 9 tips to help you get a Santa Cruz home you’ll love and be prepared for additional costs you may not have considered:

1. Ask yourself if you're ready. Are you financially ready to buy a Santa Cruz home?  Do you have a steady job and income?  Do you have money for the down payment?

2. Get pre-approved.  When you get pre-approved for a mortgage loan, your lender checks your credit and lets you know the amount of mortgage for which you qualify.  Having a pre-approved loan will put you at the top of the list when presenting an offer.

3. Identify closing costs. The cost of closing on the sale of your Santa Cruz home shouldn't be…

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Whether you need a contractor for a minor project like a plumbing problem or a major project like a room addition, it’s important to evaluate potential contractors before hiring them.  Here are 5 steps to finding the best contractor for your Santa Cruz real estate project:

1. Get multiple quotes.  Even if your toilet is overflowing onto your living room’s carpet, take the time to get 2 or 3 estimates.  Haste can cost a lot more than replacing the carpet in your Santa Cruz real estate.

2. Check references.  Talk with the former clients of the contractor you’re considering hiring.  Find out what it was really like to work with the contractor.  Two of the best questions to ask are:
a. What was your favorite thing about the contractor? 
b. What was your…

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You already know all the usual reasons agents and other experts think now is a good time to buy Santa Cruz real estate.  Here are 4 reasons to buy Santa Cruz real estate now that just might surprise you:

1. Homes are in tip-top condition. Instead of selling and moving into a more expensive home, many owners have invested their money in home maintenance, repair and updates, so says the Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

2. Outstanding homes are coming on the market. Many homeowners who have been waiting for the real estate market to take an upturn are now putting their homes on the market.  And, those homes are in great shape (see #1).

3. Appraisals reflect reality. We can all be thankful that Fannie Mae adjusted its guidelines so…

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These gray, dreary winter days can really sap your energy and dull your enjoyment of life.  To survive the winter doldrums, brighten your Santa Cruz County home using these easy tips:

1. Open your home’s window treatments during the day to let the light brighten and warm your room.  Close them again as soon as night falls to retain heat.

2. Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.

3. Add a mirror.  Wherever a mirror reflects light in a room, it visually doubles that light.  Place a mirror opposite a window to immediately brighten your space.  No window?  Hang a large mirror above a console table and place a pair of lamps in front of the mirror.

4. Install higher watt bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark

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