Inspections can turn up repair issues during the Santa Cruz home buying process that can increase your cash outlay as a buyer.  Problems with appliances, plumbing, and HVAC are just a few issues that can crop up.  If you find yourself experiencing repair sticker shock, keep these thoughts in mind: 

• The choice lies with you:  As the buyer, you get to decide whether you want to proceed with the purchase of the Santa Cruz home or not. You are not at the mercy of the seller's demands.  If you can't reach an agreement, then you can opt out of the situation, as long as you’ve included a home inspection contingency in your contract.

• The first estimate you get on the potential repair cost may not be the lowest or most accurate: Before you decide to…

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Sure, it’s still winter outside, but what could be better than dreaming of next summer in your garden? Now is the time to order your seeds, before the rush. Make 2012 the best year yet for gardening at your Santa Cruz home. Here are some advantages of ordering your seeds from home:

• Enjoy a wide selection. You’ll find a wide variety of seeds in seed catalogs, from heirlooms to hybrids. View page after page of vegetables in different varieties, with details on each one’s traits, giving you loads of options.

• Relax in your Santa Cruz home. No need to waste gas and fight the crowds next spring.

 Order online. Most seed catalogs have online ordering. What this means is, if you know a particular cultivar you want, you can do an online search for it…

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The winter season makes staging, or the concept of showing your Santa Cruz home at its best, even more important.  Follow these tips to make your home irresistible:

1. Make every surface shine: Shine bathroom fixtures, stove, refrigerator and faucets.

2. Sweep your front porch: Sweep away all those leaves stuck in the corners.

3. Clean, Clean, Clean: Everything from lamps and light fixtures to bulbs and baseboards.

4. Add fresh flowers: Put them on the entry table, dining room table and anywhere else that needs a splash of color.

5. Remove all clutter: Put it in a storage locker or a friend’s garage. Take down all your personal pictures.  Buyers want to picture their belongings in the house, not yours.

6. Burn potpourri: Or bake…

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A brand new Santa Cruz home is better than a used home, isn't it? For most people, that's a matter of preference. If you’re unsure which you prefer, consider these five reasons to buy a newly constructed home:

1. You want to pick out everything: Do you want granite or cement countertops? Perhaps you'd like a skylight in your family room or a fireplace in your master bedroom. You get to choose all the fixtures, flooring and faucets. Plan to spend a lot of time making these choices and probably some additional money for upgrades.

2. You want a Santa Cruz home that comes with high-tech and energy-efficient features: You’ll save energy and money with low-flow toilets and shower heads, energy-efficient appliances and higher-efficiency HVAC, doors and…

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You’ve decided you want to buy a Santa Cruz home, but you’re not sure if you should buy a previously-owned home or a newly built home.

Here are five reasons why buying a pre-owned Santa Cruz home might be right for you:

1. You want big trees – The cost of landscaping a newly built home can be exorbitant, especially if you want big trees immediately. When you buy a resale home, you get the benefit of bigger trees that have taken years (even decades or centuries) to sink deep roots and grow broad, shade-providing canopies.

2. You want an established neighborhood: Who wants to deal with the noise and dust until all the construction is completed? No one! What if all the homes don’t sell? You could end up living in a partially finished neighborhood…

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If you have easy access to your attic, a quick inspection will either put your mind at ease or alert you to situations that need to be remedied before they cause problems. Why is now a good time to check your attic? If you’ve ever been in an attic in the summer, you know why you should do it now.

Here are just some of the things you should check out in the attic of your Santa Cruz home:

• Insulation. Is it adequate? Has it shifted around into peaks and valleys? Is it properly installed? Are there gaps that need to be filled?
• Ducts. Are there open joints in the ductwork? Are the ducts insulated?
• Ventilation. Are vent openings blocked? If you see frost on roofing nails, or rust stains or mildew around roofing nails, it means the attic needs more…

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If you've ever dreamed of purchasing investment property, owning a vacation home or buying a home in Santa Cruz for a family member, this could be the year to check that off your bucket list.  With record low interest rates and decreased prices, it is a buyer’s market, particularly in the second-home market. 

Before you sign on the dotted line of another mortgage, be it for a beach condo in Florida or a home in Santa Cruz that you plan to rent, be sure to:

• Check your credit. The same rules apply for a getting a mortgage on a second home as on a first.  Good credit means better loan terms.

• Save for a down payment. The more money you can put down, the lower your mortgage.  If you put 20% down, you can save money by avoiding Private Mortgage…

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Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, finding the perfect Santa Cruz real estate agent can be tough. The process is often overwhelming and you want to ensure that you have the right person by your side — someone who’s trustworthy, hard-working and knows what they’re doing!

That is why it’s extremely important to do your research thoroughly when it comes to Santa Cruz real estate agents. You need to interview several agents, follow through on referrals and ensure they have the proper credentials.

All the acronyms after agents’ names can be confusing, so here are a few that describe specializations you might need:

• SRES – This stands for Senior Real Estate Specialist. The SRES designation is for agents who work with buyers and sellers over…

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The mortgage application process can be confusing -- so you only want to have to go through it once when buying Santa Cruz real estate.  Keep these tips in mind as you complete the application process to make sure you get the answer you want: Approved!

• Make Sure Your Credit is Clear: If there are any lingering issues on your credit report, get them resolved prior to application and get your credit in high standing for the best loan rates. 

• Lower Your Debt: If you meet the income requirements, but have substantial debts elsewhere – car payments, student loans, credit card debt – your application may be denied.  Budget, save up and pay off as much as you can. 

• Have the Required Income: With the tightening of regulations, any wiggle room you…

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