If you want to make the most the of your Santa Cruz home as an asset, I have one word for you: patience.

If we’ve learned anything over the last years in the real estate market, it’s that get-rich-quick schemes can just as easily turn out to be get-poor-quick scenarios. We are very much back to the good old days of seeing real estate as a long-term investment. And as a long-term investment, it continues to be a solid one. 

Here are a few other tips on how to make the most of your largest asset:

• Go long – It bears repeating: long-term ownership is the key. Build equity, allow the property to appreciate and minimize the costs that come with buying and selling property. 

• Buyer beware – Before you even enter into the world of homeownership,…

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There are many reasons to consider downsizing your Santa Cruz home. Obviously, if the kids have left the nest, or you’re recently widowed or divorced, moving to a smaller home can simplify your life in many ways. But even if the size of your household has not changed, there are still benefits to living in a smaller house.

• Maintenance will be easier. Take a lesson from monks: The more possessions you have, the more demands they make on you. It’s no different with your Santa Cruz home. It’s easier to clean 1,000 square feet than 3,000 square feet or more. The more plumbing you have, the more chances that something will go wrong with it. The bigger your roof, the more expensive it is to replace, and so on.

• It’s easier to age in a small home. Small…

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Remodeling and updating Santa Cruz real estate makes a lot of sense in today’s market. Even if you’re planning on staying in your home for years to come, don’t make the mistake of spending your home improvement dollars unwisely. You never know when something like illness, unemployment or a job opportunity in another city may force you to sell.

You don’t want to sink a lot of money into expensive upgrades or additions that you won’t recoup when it’s time to sell. So here are five tips to make sure your investment makes good financial sense.

1. Keep pace with the neighbors, but don’t pass them. Any real estate expert will tell you that it’s hard to get the maximum value out of a home when it’s the nicest one in the neighborhood.

2. Remodel instead…

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If you’re considering remodeling your Santa Cruz home, whether it’s a project as small as adding a bay window in the kitchen or as big as adding on a new bathroom, here are a few items you should consider before making the decision to remodel:

• Budget for success – However much you think the renovation might cost, realize that it will likely cost more. Keep that in mind when considering whether you can truly afford to make the changes.

• Put your money toward your priorities – If you live to travel, and you spend very little time in your Santa Cruz home, is the best use of your funds really a renovation? Think about the return on investment as it applies to your happiness. 

• Remodeling only goes so far – If you want to rip out the kitchen and…

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When you are pondering the value of your Santa Cruz home, you may want to evaluate your property from a few different angles to get a good feel for its worth. 

 Value: As the credit card commercials imply, the cost of something isn’t necessarily the same as its value (which can be “priceless”). Value takes into account how individual buyers might use a property. For instance, the home being in a good school district is probably more valuable to a family with children than to a bachelor. On the other hand, accessibility to nightlife is most likely more valuable to the bachelor than to a family with children. You may value the wide lush lawn of your Santa Cruz home while other people see that asset as a detriment, because that lawn always needs…

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If you are considering selling your Santa Cruz home, you may be dreaming of the magic sale. In this scenario, before the house is even on the market, someone knocks on the door and offers twice the asking price in cash, and maybe throws in a leer jet ride or a pet pony. 

In real life, marketing and hard work will serve you better. Here are a few tips on getting the best price for your Santa Cruz home: 

• Consider your target market: If you have an investment property, your most likely buyer is very different from those looking to buy a single-family home. Investors may be looking at rental rates in your neighborhood; single-family homebuyers may be more concerned with school systems. Know who will be looking at your home, and give them the…

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As October comes to a close, watch for ghosts, goblins and witches rushing across the lawn of your Santa Cruz home, demanding candy and giggling from sugar rushes. As you seek to soothe the trick-or-treaters and avoid teenagers lobbing rolls of toilet paper through your trees, implement the following safety tricks to keep you and your family safe for the season.

• Playing with fire – No matter how encased in pumpkin the little candles inside Jack-o’-lanterns may be, they can cause damage if not supervised. Never leave a candle burning unattended. When you extinguish the candle, be sure it is completely out and won’t spark back up again the moment you step away. Consider using battery-powered lights instead of candles, if you want that orange fangy glow…

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It’s easy to make your Santa Cruz real estate look great in the spring and summer, but autumn lawn care and curb appeal is just as important. By taking the following steps, your property will be just as appealing to prospective buyers during the fall and winter as it would be during spring and summer:

1. Rake and dispose of leaves and pine needles. A yard that needs leaf removal can cost a seller. Leaving a mess of leaves that need to be raked can make a buyer think the house needs work, whether it does or does not.

2. Consider planting ornamental kale and cabbage in containers. Ornamental varieties from the cabbage family will add color and withstand the chills of winter.

3. Clean out the gutters. Clean, leaf-free gutters tell potential buyers…

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Buying a new home isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. When you find the Santa Cruz real estate of your dreams and place an offer that is accepted, don’t assume the marathon is over -- there are many more miles you must travel before closing.

Here are four steps to take after the contract is signed:

1. Be prepared for your earnest money or escrow deposit to be cashed. This money can be anywhere from $1,000 to three percent of the price of the home.

2. Go over disclosures with a fine-tooth comb. Your agent will help you identify any red flags. Then you want to familiarize yourself with the home’s history, zoning district and past building permits. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

3. Negotiate with your bank. It’s time to lock in…

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