Upwards view of historic home with rose bushes

Starting your search for your next home can be difficult, and getting your dream property can be even harder. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or second, third, fourth, or fifth, one of the best ways you can ensure that your new home is perfect for you is by using a local, knowledgeable agent.

However, there are a few things that you will probably want to look out for when you are starting to look at homes. The Santa Cruz area has, over the years, become very popular; top-rated schools, picturesque neighborhoods, and incredible natural beauty all intersect in this city. For buyers just starting out on their journey, here are a few of the things to look out for when browsing homes in Santa Cruz.

Interior Upgrades

Whether you’re interested in a newer or older home, one of top home features that buyers look out for is interior upgrades—especially when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms. 

First-time buyers often find that a home that requires significant updates or renovations is a daunting prospect. Kitchens and bathrooms, as well, top the list for most expensive rooms to renovate in your home, which is why these spaces are often updated first to increase a home’s value. 

Regardless of how experienced a buyer is when searching for a new home, interior upgrades not only show that the previous homeowner looked after and maintained their property, but also alleviates some of the stress from the buyer in regards to moving into a new space. 

Space and Storage

Additional space is another feature that is important to look out for. Incredibly valuable, space and storage encompasses both interior space and lot size—which can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. 

A significant number of the homes for sale around Santa Cruz are bungalows. While this is often equated to less square footage (although these properties tend to be priced lower than their multi-story counterparts), it's not always the case. Regardless, homebuyers may have to choose between smaller lot sizes for greater square footage, or vice versa. Or, location may have to be sacrificed to have the best space that works for the buyer. But space allows for room to grow, hence why it is so sought-after. 


Both a cost-saving measure and an increased focus on the environment, energy efficiency is another consideration when buying a home. 

New construction homes often take this into account, with certain elements (i.e. insulation, ventilation, and other green methods) built into property from the beginning. This then is sometimes a problem for older, or historic homes, and could be considered hidden costs in the long-run. 

Despite this, many residents in the Santa Cruz area have taken to updating their homes, which typically involves upgrading appliances, lighting, and the like to more energy efficient models. When considering a home, ask about what steps the owner has taken towards energy efficiency and sustainability. 


Lastly, but probably one of the most important features on this list, is location. Obviously not exclusive to buying in the Santa Cruz area, location can be the deciding factor if you’re stuck between two properties, or the first attribute you narrow your search by when you’re looking for a home. 

Forget all of Santa Cruz County—even just within the city of Santa Cruz, location influences a number of home characteristics: lot size, price point, amenities, architecture, and more. There are neighborhoods more suitable for families, and others that are perfect for a summer getaway or vacation home. There are historic communities and luxury neighborhoods, homes that overlook the water, and brand new developments. 

An agent can provide insider information about which neighborhoods and areas are best suited for your needs, as well as make recommendations based on your top priorities (close proximity to work, ideal school district, etc.) when purchasing a home.

Important Questions To Ask Your Agent

As mentioned above, working with an agent has countless benefits for buyers (and sellers!). Throughout the buying process, there are a number of questions you should ask your agent, in order for them to help you find your dream home. 

  1. What area or which neighborhood is best suited for my lifestyle/home requirements?

  2. What is the real estate market like in this area, and what are the current market trends?

  3. Is this home priced correctly (fair market value)? 

  4. Are there any additional costs/fees associated with this property?

Have a question for a real estate agent? Contact Lauren Spencer today. Starting your search for your dream home in the Santa Cruz area is just one click away.


Posted by Lauren Spencer on
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