Santa Cruz Home Buyer's Guide



Reasons To Invest In Santa Cruz Real Estate

1. Owning your own home is a freeing experience. Unlike renting, homeowners have complete freedom to paint and remodel their homes as they please. They also have the option to welcome furry friends into their home that may not be rental-friendly.

2. Real estate is an investment. When you rent a home, you pay a monthly sum to live in that space, and that money is gone. By contrast, when you invest in a home, although you're investing a large sum of money upfront, you'll likely end up earning money when it comes time to sell and the value of your house has appreciated.

3. For many buyers, a mortgage is a necessary step in buying a home. However, this isn't all bad. In many cases, mortgage interest and home equity loans are deductible when you calculate your income tax. This is also true of property taxes, assuming this is your first or second home.

4. For many buyers, it is ultimately the peace of mind that drives them to purchase their Santa Cruz home. When you purchase a home, you can rest assured that your home is your own and your housing situation won't be linked to a landlord who may one day decide to sell.

How Santa Cruz Real Estate Agents Help Buyers

Once you've made the decision to purchase a home for sale in Santa Cruz, your first step should be contacting an experienced Santa Cruz real estate agent. Many first-time buyers are under the impression that working with a real estate agent will cost them money, however, this isn't typically the case. A good real estate agent will not only save you money, they will ensure that you have all of the information about the area and the real estate market to make wise, informed decisions about how you invest your money.

When you become one of my clients, your real estate goals become my goals. I will be happy to walk you through every stage of the home buying process, and work with you to find a property that suites your lifestyle and your unique needs. I will also:

  • Advise you on any questions you may have
  • Help you determine your budget
  • Lend my local knowledge and real estate expertise
  • Find properties that meet your specifications
  • Research promising properties to identify potential problem areas
  • Negotiating a fair offer on your behalf
  • Navigate complex closing contracts
  • Recommend local services (movers, lawyers, renovators, etc.)
  • Represent the buyer's wishes at every stage of the process

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Search Criteria

Try to get very specific about your needs and preferences. You can always expand your search if necessary, but it is important to give your Santa Cruz real estate agent a clear picture of your ideal property.

  • How many bedrooms?
  • How many baths?
  • How many living areas?
  • What size garage?
  • What area do you want to live?
  • What style home do you like?
  • When do you want to occupy?
  • What is the most important to you in a home?
  • Are schools important? Yes No If yes, which ones and why:
  • Where do you work?
  • When is the best time to look?
  • If we found the right home for you today, is there any reason that could keep you from buying it?
  • Does anyone else have to approve of your purchase?
  • Notes:
  • New Construction/older charm & character
  • Location/country/city/near beaches
  • Good condition/needs cosmetic work/fixer
  • View/ocean or mountain
  • Neighborhood – consistent or eclectic
  • Weather/sunny or foggy
  • Yard/ large, small or low maintenance
  • Near bus lines/shopping
  • Schools Noise – freeway or traffic
  • Number of bedrooms and baths
  • Garage
  • Kitchen – gourmet or gas stove
  • Closet and storage space
  • Pool/Spa/Hot tub
  • Hardwood/carpets
  • In law quarters/ legal rental
  • Acreage/room for horses
For more help organizing your priorities, explore our Want / Wish List

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My Unique Position

There are a lot of agents available and willing to help you with your home purchase. To make a solid case for allowing me to assist you, I provide a higher-level of services both before and after the sale. I want you to consider me as your real estate professional for life, this is just the beginning of our relationship. My goals are to exceed your expectations and that you would refer all your friends who may be looking to buy or sell a home. See my resume.

MLS® Member

As a member of the Multiple Listing Service®, I can show you any Santa Cruz home for sale no matter which real estate firm it is listed with. If you should see an ad in the paper or a sign in a yard, contact me to find out the information. If you want to see it, I'll show it to you.

For Sale by Owner

Many times a homeowner will work with an agent, even though the home is not listed with a real estate broker. With a Buyer Broker Agreement, I can represent you even though the seller is selling it himself. A homeowner trying to sell his home himself is usually doing so in hopes of saving the commission. If you want to see a home offered by the owner, please let me contact the owner and set the appointment.

Builder's Homes

Most builders are more than willing to work with agents who accompany the buyer to the property on the initial visit and can get all the information you need to make any decisions. By working through me with builders, you get all the services offered by me in addition to those offered by the builder. You'll get more, but won't pay more for it.

Neighborhood Knowledge

Having been a Santa Cruz County resident for over 36 years, I'm intimately familiar with every neighborhood, beach, school district and shopping spot from Boulder Creek to North Monterey County. That has equipped me in my 19 years as a real estate professional to understand the community and its diversity.

Appropriate Houses to Consider

I'll look for what you want and can afford in an area you want to live. I'll show you all the homes that are available not just the ones that I have listed. I will look for homes that are not yet on the market.

Good Financial Decisions

Every buyer needs basic financial information to make a good buying decision. You'll know that you qualify for the home and what the payments and the closing costs will be. I'll also make additional suggestions like making extra principal contributions with your regular payment and suggest an alternative type of mortgage to allow for the least expensive cost of housing.

Work Diligently to Find Your Home

I'll work hard to find your new home. I understand that finding a home is a priority. I'll screen and preview homes so as to not waste your time and when I find one that I feel will meet your needs, I'll show it to you as quickly as possible. My attention to detail, my negotiating skills, my clear communication and enthusiastic nature are why so many of my clients are pleased with their transactions. And I think many of them learn a great deal, not just about real estate, but about themselves, in the process.

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The Home Buying Process

1. Connect With A Real Estate Professional

The Santa Cruz real estate market changes rapidly as each season passes. Whether you've never set foot in Santa Cruz before, or you've lived there your whole live, you'll benefit from working with a real estate professional on your home purchase. In our initial meeting, you'll give me a sense of your real estate goals, your budget, and your expectations. Using the information you've given me, I will use my local knowledge and real estate expertise to help you find houses that meet your unique specifications.

2. Acquire Financing

One of the best ways to make yourself appealing to sellers and to expedite the home buying process is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. While not every buyer will need a mortgage, the majority do, and it's important that you find out how much you would be approved for before you start your home search. This will not only help you establish a budget from the onset, it will also ensure that when the time comes for you to make an offer, you'll have the financial backing in place to make you a viable candidate in the eyes of the home seller.

3. Find Your Ideal Santa Cruz Community

No two Santa Cruz communities are the same. A neighborhood like Seabright is located near the rolling waves of the Pacific and offers the finest in luxury real estate, whereas the homes in Scotts Valley are often rural-style retreats. As your real estate agent, I'll help you find the community that best suits your lifestyle. Start exploring neighborhoods below:

Classic Beach Community

Santa Cruz

A classic beach community stretching from the sea to the redwoods and featuring a boardwalk and university.

Photo of Santa Cruz community
Capitola by the Sea


Idyllic coastal community with the charm of a Mediterranean village, this seaside community reminiscent of a Mediterr…

Photo of Capitola community
Commute to Silicon Valley

Scotts Valley

Framed by the Santa Cruz Mountains, Scotts Valley offers a warmer climate, just 5 miles inland from Santa Cruz.

Photo of Scotts Valley community
Historic and Charming


Characterized by the towering Redwoods of Nisene Marks Park, the historic and charming Aptos Village, miles of beache…

Photo of APTOS community
Apple Orchards & Vineyards


The small town of Corralitos is tucked away in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and features large lots and lovely views.

Photo of Corralitos community
Small Beach Community

La Selva Beach

Popular coastal activities in La Selva Beach, include swimming and sunbathing, beachcombing, clamming, and surf fishing.

Photo of La Selva Beach community
Redwood Forest

San Lorenzo Valley

A diverse mix of neighborhoods is found here with attractive homes boasting fabulous views.

Photo of San Lorenzo Valley community
Old World Village


Immerse yourself in Soquel's old-world village featuring antique shops, coffeehouses and wineries.

Photo of Soquel community
Rural Living


Located in a beautiful valley, this community is a bustling agricultural hub with coveted equestrian properties.

Photo of Watsonville community
Country Views of the Bay

Aptos Hills

Aptos Hills commands fabulous views of the ocean and Monterey Bay

Photo of Aptos Hills community
Tranquil rural community

Bonny Doon

Bonny Doon is a tranquil mountain community known for its towering Redwoods, productive vineyards, and unaltered countryside.

Photo of Bonny Doon community
Charming seaside resort

Capitola Village

A charming seaside resort community featuring a beachfront esplanade, distinct shops, and delicious restaurants

Photo of Capitola Village community
High Quality Life

Cliffwood Heights

A traditional neighborhood with a high-quality of life close to popular points of interest

Photo of Cliffwood Heights community
Quaint Coastal Community


A quaint coastal community nestled amongst untouched natural surroundings, farmland, and the sea.

Photo of Davenport community
Coveted and Charming

Depot Hill

These homes are situated on the bluff overlooking Capitola Village, and feature expansive ocean views

Photo of Depot Hill community
Banana Belt

East Santa Cruz

Warmer weather, spacious lots, wider streets, and convenient access to the freeway.

Photo of East Santa Cruz community
A local gem

Jewel Box

An assortment of historic cottages & modern houses with streets named after precious stones.

Photo of Jewel Box community
Surfing at Pleasure Point

Live Oak

Live Oak community stretches along the coastline & includes the picturesque choice surf spot, Pleasure Point.

Photo of Live Oak community
Loch Lomond Reservoir


This community is found east of the Felton area near Loch Lomond Reservoir, and homes are found within the Redwood forest.

Photo of Lompico community
Pot Belly & Las Olas Beaches

New Brighton

This on the sand & bluff-top neighborhood community featuring scenic views of New Brighton State Park.

Photo of New Brighton community
beautiful coastal community

Rio Del Mar

Often compared to Carmel by the Sea, it features world-class golf and attractive streets lined with Cypress trees.

Photo of Rio Del Mar community
Exclusive Neighborhood


Charming, upscale California beach bungalows to spectacular ocean view estates situated on the bluffs of Santa Cruz.

Photo of Seabright community
Seacliff State Beach


This is a popular vacation community, located on top of the bluffs overlooking the ocean.

Photo of Seacliff community
Seascape Golf Resort


This residential neighborhood surround the Seascape Golf Course & Resort.

Photo of Seascape community
Scenic Pedestrian Pathways

West Santa Cruz

Homes in West Santa Cruz neighborhoods vary widely in price and property style.

Photo of West Santa Cruz community
a pocket of paradise


Zayante is a pocket of paradise located in the San Lorenzo Valley area of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Photo of Zayante community

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4. Negotiate An Offer

Once you've found the Santa Cruz home for sale you want to purchase, I will help you put together a fair offer. Santa Cruz is a competitive market, and if there are competing bids, I will work with you and your budget to help you purchase the home.

5. Conduct A Home Inspection

A home purchase is exciting, but it's still important to do your due diligence and make sure that your investment is sound. A home inspection is an important stage of a home purchase. In the event that an inspector uncovers water damage, poor electrical work, or pest infestations, these factors could greatly impact both the value and safety of the home. Before signing final papers, it's important to know exactly what you're getting in to.

I will be happy to supply a list of recommended inspectors. You are encouraged to accompany the inspector to ask questions and receive a written report itemizing any areas of concern.

6. Close On Your Home Purchase

Closing contracts aren't always simple. They outline the exact terms between buyer and seller as the ownership of the house shifts from one party to the other. There are often several closing fees associated with this process and it can be beneficial to have your real estate agent review the papers before you sign them.

For more information about the home buying process, or to learn more about working with an experience Santa Cruz real estate agent, contact Lauren Spencer today.

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