Now is a fabulous time to take advantage of today's real estate market and boost your investment portfolio with Santa Cruz short sales. Here are the top ten reasons why investing in short sales might be beneficial for you:

1. Short sales benefit buyers, sellers and investors. You get to help a lender and homeowner out of a tough financial situation.
2. You can make a nice profit because Santa Cruz short sales are priced at or below market.
3. Banks are closing them faster than ever before and, from start to finish, it’s not as painful as it used to be.
4. There is a huge inventory of short sales from which to choose.
5. The competition is low because there aren’t enough investors to gobble them all up.
6. It doesn’t take a ton of time. You’ll spend even…

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Within the walls of your house, you’ve probably raised a family, made future plans and created years of memories. Take time this month to be thankful for everything your Santa Cruz home has given you by giving it some green TLC this Thanksgiving.

With Christmas right around the corner, I know it’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on your Santa Cruz home. Below are a few easy and affordable green projects for you to do this Thanksgiving holiday — and they’ll start paying off immediately!

• Buy compact florescent light bulbs. You don’t have to do this all at once. As your light bulbs burn out, replace them with these energy savers for around $3 a piece. They last about ten times longer than incandescent light bulbs and can save you close to $40…

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Second mortgages on Santa Cruz homes are used by people who need to access the equity on their homes. Here’s some information to help you decide if a second mortgage is right for you.

What is a Second Mortgage?

A second mortgage is taking out a second loan on top of the existing mortgage on your home. The collateral for the second mortgage is your home. The loan process is similar to getting a primary mortgage, including the need to pay for appraisals and closing costs.

The maximum amount of the second mortgage is determined by the equity in your home. The equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and the current fair market value of your home.

Why Get a Second Mortgage?

People take out second mortgages on their Santa Cruz…

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If you’ve been thinking about replacing windows, doors,  roofing, insulation, the heating and cooling system and/or hot water heater in your Santa Cruz home, don’t delay!

You can qualify for the energy-efficiency tax credit by installing eligible energy-efficient products, but only until the end of 2011. For most upgrades, the credit is equal to 10 percent of the equipment cost (labor is usually not included), with a cap of $500. Remember, a tax credit is much better than a mere deduction because a tax credit is subtracted from the taxes you owe.

In addition, here are other benefits you’ll reap from a green renovation.

• Your home will be quieter. With tight new windows and doors, or added insulation, you won’t hear what the neighbors are doing,…

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If your Santa Cruz home still has old, single-pane windows, the answer is a resounding YES! Otherwise, it depends on the quality of your windows.

Today’s windows are improving all the time, with added features making them tighter than ever.  For added comfort, lower energy costs and a soon-to-expire tax credit, it might be time to upgrade. Before you go window shopping, it will help to know something about the following terms:

 NFRC: This is the National Fenestration Rating Council, which brings you the labels found on all new windows. They test and rate the window’s performance in several important categories.

• U-Factor: This indicates the window’s resistance to heat loss. It is the inverse of the R-Factor used in insulation, so the lower the…

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In this economy, cash buyers have the advantage and are swooping in on great housing deals to beat out buyers obtaining loans through banks. Sellers are jumping on these offers because the cash is already secured, they don’t have to worry about finances falling through at the last minute, and it can guarantee quick closing dates on their Santa Cruz homes for sale.

While dealing in ready money definitely gives real estate investors an advantage, don’t get discouraged. There are a few guidelines financed buyers can follow to give them a better hand when it comes to beating out competitors that throw down the cash card.

 Get pre-approved. Talk with a reputable bank and get a pre-approved home loan for a certain amount before you start shopping for…

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If you get a mortgage for more than 80% of your Santa Cruz real estate’s fair market value, your lender will require that you pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI payments are expensive at about 0.5% to 1% of the entire loan amount on an annual basis.

Obviously, it would be a good thing if you didn’t have to pay PMI. To help you achieve that goal, here are several tips to avoid paying PMI on your Santa Cruz real estate:

• Save for a big down payment: The easiest way to avoid PMI is to have a down payment of at least 20% of the value of the home you want to purchase.

• Borrow to get 20% down: Check with friends and family for down payment assistance. You can offer repayment with interest and still never pay as much as you would have to for…

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Now that summer is behind us, it’s a good time to get up in the attic and assess your insulation. If it’s been a while since it was installed, there may well be peaks and valleys in it that are less than ideal for keeping your Santa Cruz home comfortable and energy-efficient.

Luckily, more insulation can be blown in over what you already have. Blown-in cellulose insulation is a good option because it’s considered a "green" product, is highly effective and is less costly than fiberglass. Here are several benefits to adding cellulose insulation:

• Allows you to recycle while you insulate. As they say, if you don’t buy recycled, you’re not recycling. Cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper and treated with a flame retardant for safety.


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At this time of year, as thoughts turn to gobbling down turkey dinners and watching football, it's easy to get caught up in the details and lose the spirit.  So today, I want to take a minute to say something important:

Thank you!
Because of you, I have a job I love: being a Santa Cruz real estate agent. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday of gratitude, and yet too few of us remember that when we're stuck in traffic going over the river and through the woods to grandma's house for her famous pumpkin pie. 

So today, I'd like to say again, thank you.  

Thank you for contributing to this community, online and in the real world, by asking questions, adding your insights, and trusting me with your housing dreams.   

If we've worked together in the past,…

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With Daylight Saving Time turning back the clock this month, sellers having trouble going the for-sale-by-owner route should take a hint from Father Time: Set aside the time to “fall back” on helpful connections and get your Santa Cruz real estate sold.

Your for-sale-by-owner home is probably clear of clutter and staged to perfection, so why aren’t buyers lining up to take a peek? If it’s not the price, then it probably means you need to take a look at your marketing. The tips below will guide you on how to take some time to fall back on local connections and reach out to more people.

• Connect through all your communities. Networking online through real estate sites and social media platforms are a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Use all…

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