You’ve been watching the news, reading blogs and you know this is the perfect time for you to buy a piece of Santa Cruz real estate.  You want to do all the right things to get the best deal, and you know one of the first steps is to line up your financing.  

To help you pick a mortgage that matches your goals and financial situation, here’s an overview of three of the most popular mortgages available today.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

If you plan on keeping your new Santa Cruz real estate for more than 10 years and you don’t expect your income to change, this is probably the loan for you.  Although fixed rate loans charge a bit more interest, the rate will never change.  This provides financial stability and the security of knowing what your monthly mortgage…

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What happens if you have a signed contract to purchase a piece of Santa Cruz real estate and the appraised value comes in lower than your agreed upon purchase price?   Unfortunately, that’s happening more often these days.

Don’t give up!  It is possible to salvage the deal.  Here are four options to consider, if you find yourself in this position:

#1:  Ask the lender for a review of the appraisal.
If you are aware of comparable sales numbers or any other pertinent data that was not considered by the appraiser, provide that information to your lender and ask for a review of the appraisal.  If problems are found with the first appraisal, ask your lender to order a second appraisal by a qualified real estate appraiser.

#2:  Ask the seller to drop the…

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You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to save energy this summer. Some improvements to your Santa Cruz home will make your home more comfortable and save energy. Here are some examples.

• Make sure your air conditioner is the right size for your Santa Cruz home. Many people think bigger is always better. Not so. If your air conditioner is too large for your home, it will not reduce the humidity sufficiently. Lower humidity equals comfort in the summer. You may find that you can keep the thermostat a few degrees higher and be just as comfortable, as long as humidity is low.

• Shade your air conditioner. It will have to work harder if it’s out in the sun.

• Keep a/c filters clean.

• Use your window treatments wisely. Always try to close drapes or lower…

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Have you ever thought about hiring a house sitter for your Santa Cruz home?  If you’re going on an extended trip, hiring a house sitter could prevent potential problems.  Here are the basics you need to know about house sitters.

What are the benefits of having a house sitter?

• It’s safer.  If you are going out of town for any length of time, your Santa Cruz home is statistically less likely to be burglarized if it’s occupied.

• You’ll save on insurance fees.  If your home is empty for over 30 days, you may not be able to buy homeowner’s insurance for it or the insurance may be very costly.

• Your pets can stay in their home.  Your pets are going to miss you, but at least they’ll be more comfortable in familiar surroundings.  They’ll also have less…

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With home prices nearing their bottom, now might be a great time to buy Santa Cruz real estate as income property. Many more people will be looking to rent now that pre-approved mortgages are harder to come by. But, before you become a landlord, you’ll want to make sure your potential rental property won’t remain vacant for long.

6 tips to help you evaluate your Santa Cruz real estate investment:

1. Determine if your area has a strong rental market. See what kind of homes are for rent and track how long they remain vacant. If the same properties are listed week after week, it might not be the best area to purchase a rental.

2. Get a feel for the stability of the population.  It's good to find a rental property in a transient community because…

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Here are five tips to help you identify the best Santa Cruz real estate agent to get your home sold as fast as possible and for the most money.

1. Hire a full-time Santa Cruz real estate agent.  Part-time agents typically have less experience and fewer sold properties under their belts than full-time agents.  Because part-time agents usually have another job, they don’t have as much time to take care of your needs and market and show your home to potential buyers.  Full-time agents have bigger networks they can enlist to help find a buyer for your home.

2. Find a skilled negotiator.  A seasoned Santa Cruz real estate agent understands the psychological nature of selling a home.  They advise you during the contract negotiations to ensure you get the best…

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What’s the best thing about owning your Santa Cruz home?  Many people say it’s their yard.  No matter your lifestyle, there are things you can do to improve your outdoor space and your quality of life. Here are a few ideas to help you get more enjoyment from your yard:

• Relax:   Buy a lounger for sun bathing or a hammock for shade bathing

• Enjoy meals outdoors:  Add a picnic table to make eating outdoors easier.

• Grow a garden:  Whether it’s a vegetable, herb or flower garden there is nothing more rewarding than eating food or smelling flowers that you grew yourself. Start small if you’ve never gardened before. Like anything else, it’s easy to get burned out if you bite off more than you can chew. A few of your favorite vegetables and herbs will…

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Saving money and saving the planet go hand-in-hand. It’s all about being thoughtful, creative, and into DIY – doing it yourself. Here are some ways you can save money, save energy and save the earth in your Santa Cruz home.

• Be seasonal. Dress, cook and eat according to the weather. If it’s hot outside, dress accordingly, and keep the thermostat in the high 70s. Don’t use the oven in summertime; eat and drink cold fare. When it’s cold, wear a sweater, and keep the temperature in your Santa Cruz home in the high 60s. Winter is the time to bake and to eat warm, hearty food.

• Use a clothesline. The clothes dryer is an energy hog. Let the sun and wind do it instead. Go ahead and fluff the wet laundry briefly in the dryer on the air fluff cycle before…

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The sound of birdsong is only one of the benefits of having birds frequent your Santa Cruz real estate. Depending on the type of birds you attract, they may also reduce the insect pest population. Here are some ways to attract birds to your property:

 Install a bird bath. Finding a good place to take a bath can be a challenge for birds, especially in dry weather. If they can find it in your backyard, you’ll have the joy of watching them bathe. If you have a cat, just make sure that you’re not creating mayhem; keep her inside, or get a hanging bird bath that will be inaccessible to her. Bird baths come in a wide range of styles and materials, from ceramic to metal to resin and more. Keep it filled, because the birds will come to rely on it.

• Put up…

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If you haven’t read “Santa Cruz Real Estate Investing:  Buying a Short Sale Steps 1 through 5,” start there.  This blog post provides steps 5 through 9 of the short sale process.

6.  Visit the Santa Cruz real estate on your short list.  You’ve already searched for short sales, researched them and narrowed your list to a few short sales that meet your criteria and have the best chance of making it to closing.  Now it’s time to personally visit the few on your short list.  Your primary purpose in visiting the property is to get an estimate as to how much it’s going to cost you to repair the home.  As a real estate investor, you want a property that needs some work so that the average home buyer won’t want it, and you can get it at a lower-than-average…

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