As houses continue to sit on the market without the slightest sign of interested buyers, sellers are lowering prices and pouring more money into upgrades and remodels. While these updates might help increase sales, you could achieve the same results with your Santa Cruz home by spending less cash and adding more green.

With the growing demand for green features, buyers like the idea of purchasing a house that already contains a few eco-conscious elements. From environmentally sound materials to energy efficient windows and doors, just adding one green upgrade could be the ticket to spark interest and sell your Santa Cruz home.

6 eco-features buyers love:

1. Water-saving appliances – Install low-flow toilets and aerators on showers to reduce your water…

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Do you know how closing costs actually work? Or, how you’d use CMAs (comparative market analysis) to evaluate Santa Cruz real estate? And, can you decipher all of the abbreviations and acronyms, such as FDR, lo dues and MLS.

Purchasing a home is frustrating enough without having to go through the frustration of decoding all the complicated speak and legalese. If you brush up with a real estate dictionary before your home-buying search, you’ll gain valuable knowledge and save yourself a lot of time and headaches in the long run.

Basic lingo every Santa Cruz real estate buyer or seller should know …

• ARM – This stands for Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, which is a type of mortgage where the interest rate periodically adjusts.

• Closing costs – These are…

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The fact is that not all Santa Cruz real estate agents are created equal.   There are important differences you need to consider before choosing an agent to help you buy a home.

Here are some fictional beliefs people have about Santa Cruz real estate agents and the facts behind them.

1. Fiction:  Any agent you contact about a property is now your buyer’s agent and is looking out for your best interests. 

Fact:  When you call the agent whose name is on the For Sale sign in the front yard of the home, you’re calling the seller’s agent.  That agent is looking out for the home seller’s best interest, not yours.   Hire a buyer’s agent and ask him or her to show you homes you’re interested in seeing.

2. Fiction:  When you hire a buyer's agent, you have to…

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Looking to buy a new house? Do you have a specified budget in place? Are you going to need to take out a loan? In such a tumultuous real estate market, there are many frustrating financial hurdles that you need to jump before you can purchase your Santa Cruz home. However, with a pre-approved loan you could reduce stress and move in quicker.

A pre-approved loan is when a bank provides you with an amount they would be willing to lend you for a Santa Cruz home and a period of time for which this offer is good. They determine this amount based on several criteria that you must provide and prove, such as your current income, bank statements, income tax returns and credit history.



Perks from pre-approval

• Know what you can afford –Using a…

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Shopping for a mortgage is as important as shopping for a Santa Cruz home to buy.  It’s the only way to get the best interest rate and terms with a lender you trust.  Take your time, do your research, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you found the mortgage that meets your needs.
Here are six tips to help you find the best mortgage to use to purchase your Santa Cruz home:

1. Find a lender you like and trust.  Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and most importantly, your real estate agent for names of lenders they admire and enjoy working with.  You want to find one who is knowledgeable about the mortgage industry, will answer all your questions and can talk with you about loans in a way you understand.

2. Explore your options.  There is a…

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As a homeowner, one of the biggest traps you can fall into is over improving your Santa Cruz home. 

Turn on any home improvement channel, and they will show you all the latest and greatest in must haves for your Santa Cruz home.  What they don’t tell you is that even the best upgrades won’t guarantee an increase in your resale value.  In fact, most remodel jobs only recoup 60% to 70% of their costs.

Here are some tips to help you avoid over improving your home:

Assess the value of homes in your neighborhood. 

Unless you plan on staying in your Santa Cruz home forever, do some research on the home values in your neighborhood before you begin any home renovations. Ideally, you want to add improvements that increase the resale value of your home while…

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The ongoing debate as to whether selling your Santa Cruz real estate is better as a FSBO or with the help of a REALTOR® just got some new ammunition.  The new survey supports past findings that using a REALTOR® is more beneficial to Santa Cruz real estate sellers.

The survey, conducted by, a leading online real estate resource that connects home buyers and sellers with real estate professionals, surveyed over 1,000 homeowners.   Here’s what HomeGain’s survey found:

• 83% of homeowners surveyed said they used a REALTOR® to sell their home and 17% said they tried to sell their home on their own.

• 59% of homeowners that used a REALTOR® to sell their homes were successful vs. 39% of FSBO’s, reflecting a 50% higher closing rate for those home…

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Marketing your Santa Cruz home for sale can be tough enough in this economy without having other sources working against you. That’s why you should double-check your property’s public records. Large discrepancies between your property description and what’s listed as public record could be turning potential buyers away.

If the public property report for your house is not up to date, you could appear as if you’re inflating its qualities, such as the square footage or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Don’t let something so simple hurt your property’s sale. Consider taking the following steps to ensure your home is being portrayed accurately.

1. Review your property’s public record.  If it matches the information that you and your real estate agent…

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It’s the time of year we all dread… time for your 2010 tax filings.  While I am not a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or even a plain old accountant, I do want to share with you some basic tax tips all Santa Cruz home owners should consider before filing their taxes.

• Contact a tax expert.  My motto is always, if in doubt, contact a tax expert.  There’s no way around it; taxes are complicated.  While some don’t want to spend their money on tax experts, I’ve found that they’ve saved me much more money than they’ve cost.  And, the peace of mind they provide is priceless.

• Claim your Santa Cruz home owner’s tax deduction, if you’re eligible.  In 2002, a study was conducted that showed that 61% of eligible home owners did not claim their home owner’s…

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You’ve found the Santa Cruz home you want to buy, and you’ve hired a professional home inspector.  But, wait!  You’re job isn’t done.  You still need to personally participate in the inspection on your Santa Cruz home.

Here are 5 reasons why you should attend your home inspection:

1. See for yourself.  There’s a big difference between reading a report and seeing first-hand what’s right and wrong with the home.  Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to determine if a problem is serious enough to walk away from the home if the seller is unwilling to fix it. 

2. Learn practical information about your home.  You’ll discover where things such as the water valve and electrical box are located.

3. Experience your prospective home through the eyes of an…

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