Should you be marketing to first-time home buyers in order to sell your Santa Cruz real estate? The 2011 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has a wealth of information on first-time home buyers and will help you figure out if you should market to this large and important group of buyers.

Here are the stats (courtesy of you need to know about first-time home buyers before selling your Santa Cruz real estate:

• Long-term survey averages show that 4 out of 10 buyers are typically first-time buyers. This segment is critical to a housing recovery because they help existing home owners sell and make a trade.

• The median age of first-time buyers was 31 and the median income was $62,400, up from $59,900 in…

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To sell Santa Cruz homes, you have to get buyers to want them. So, what do they want? Based on the data just in from the 2011 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, here are what buyers want in a neighborhood in order of importance:

1. 67 percent favor a quality neighborhood
2. 49 percent of buyers said they want convenience to jobs
3. 45 percent look at the overall affordability of Santa Cruz homes in the neighborhood
4. 39 percent prefer to live close to family and friends
5. 28 percent of buyers are interested in having shopping close by
6. 27 percent want a quality school district
7. 22 percent ask for a neighborhood that is convenient to schools
8. 21 percent like to live close to entertainment or leisure activities

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Should you try to sell your home on your own as a Santa Cruz home for sale by owner (FSBO)? The 2011 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has new information about FSBOs that can help you decide if you should try to sell your home without the help of a real estate professional.

Here are the top 4 facts you need to know if you’re considering selling your Santa Cruz home for sale by owner:

1. It’s harder to sell your Santa Cruz home for sale by owner in today’s market. FSBO transactions accounted for 10 percent of sales. That’s slightly above the record low of 9 percent in the 2010 study, but well below the record high of 20 percent set in 1987. The share of homes sold without professional representation has trended…

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Holidays are full of joy and family fun – and potential hazards all about. To maintain harmony and health in your Santa Cruz home this season, keep these safety tips in mind:

• Sparkly, Not Sparking, Electrical Safety: Plugging extension cords into extension cords into extension cords to create a wire farm of electricity can be a fire hazard. Blown circuit breakers are one sign that you're overloading the capacity of your Santa Cruz home. Don't wait for the sparks. If you are using lights outside, make sure that they are approved for outdoor, all-weather use.

• Season of Light, Not of Fire: Never leave candles burning unattended or where pets or children can knock them over. Period. Flames are lovely only when contained in fireplaces and candlestick…

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Urban legends can be found within every industry, and Santa Cruz real estate is no exception. Getting a big discount because a home needs minor repairs or being able to acquire 100 percent financing in a snap definitely isn’t as easy as it sounds and is probably just what you think — a big fat myth.

Whether you’re an experienced buyer or it’s your first time purchasing Santa Cruz real estate, do your research and don’t get sidetracked by enticing fables that might cause you to miss out on your dream home. Below are three debunked mortgage urban legends that have been plaguing the industry for years.

1. You can get a foreclosed home for almost nothing. While foreclosed homes do tend to sell consistently lower than other homes on the market, they’re…

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One way lenders increase their profits on your Santa Cruz real estate mortgage is by charging settlement fees. While many fees are standard and required, others may be negotiated.

Shop Around For Better Closing Fees

The Good Faith Estimate (GFE), as required by RESPA, is presented to you after you apply for a loan to purchase your Santa Cruz real estate. It gives you a heads up as to what fees you should expect at closing.

If you don't like the numbers you're seeing on the GFE, shop around with other lenders. If you were approved for one loan, you can likely be approved for another.  Collect comparable GFEs and see how the interest rate, monthly payments, points, and closing fees stack up. Your best bet is to tell your lenders that you're…

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Before you sign on the dotted line for your new Santa Cruz home, be sure to get the information you need to make a sound financial decision. That includes getting a thorough home inspection by a qualified professional.

This may seem like one more hoop to jump through, but a detailed and complete inspection can reveal some unpleasant surprises about your new Santa Cruz home purchase. It can also impact the price you pay for the property. Remember, part of your offer should include a clause that specifies who will pay for any necessary repairs discovered by the inspection.

When looking for an inspector:

• Ask your friends: Word of mouth is still the best way to go, as their good experience can lead to yours.

• Ask your real estate agent: Agents…

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Now that winter is here, we’re spending more time indoors and keeping our homes closed up against the cold. These two factors mean we should pay more attention to the air quality in our homes. Here are some things to consider at your Santa Cruz home:

• Ban the use of pesticides in your home. Insecticides are toxic to all life forms, not just insects. Many are carcinogenic. If you have a serious pest problem like roaches, try using boric acid against them. Otherwise, the occasional spider or beetle is not a real threat to you.

• Simplify cleaning. Most commercially available cleaners are a stew of chemicals. You don’t need to be breathing their fumes. Instead, you can use baking soda and/or white vinegar for most jobs.

• Ventilate the bathroom. In…

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A cozy fire, the smell of pine trees and a plate of warm cookies might be all it takes for buyers to envision themselves celebrating many holidays in your Santa Cruz home. So take the time this season to channel Mrs. Claus and cheerfully enhance your house for the holidays with these festive tips:

• Deck the Halls – While you want to remind some buyers of their yearly traditions, you don’t want to offend others. If you usually go overboard with decorations, tone it down a little this year and go for a winter nature theme — think pinecones, snowflakes and the smell of cinnamon.

• Spruce Up the Winter Curb Appeal – In the dead of winter, yards can look barren and bleak. Don’t add to the seasonal depression. Be sure you shovel snow, rake fallen leaves…

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If you’re looking to purchase Santa Cruz real estate, you’ll probably come across many terms you don’t know — including concurrent ownership. This essentially means that more than just one individual can own property. You might be extremely interested in the details of concurrent ownership if you’re purchasing a property with another person, are married or have children.

It’s always good to educate yourself so you can assess all your options (and maybe show off to your Santa Cruz real estate agent and loved ones if you happen to come across this term during your house hunt). Below is the basic breakdown of the four main types of concurrent ownership.

1. Joint Tenancy with the Right of Survivorship – This means that all owners retain equal share of…

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