Q: Why should I consider owning property in Santa Cruz?
A: Santa Cruz is a great, diverse community. We have a university and beaches, and we’re close to Silicon Valley. Santa Cruz is generally less expensive than Silicon Valley, so the savings can make a big difference for some people who work in that area.
Q: Can you help me find an investment property?
A: Yes. I’m the organizer of a club called the Santa Cruz Real Estate Investment Group that meets once a month. We look at investment opportunities locally and all over the United States, and we can usually find something that will fit almost any budget. We’ve worked with realtors all over the country, so we can give you a quality referral if you’re looking for an out-of-state investment property.
Q: Will I get my deposit back if the deal goes forward?
A: I recommend making a deposit of no more than 3 percent of the home—that’s the maximum amount the seller can keep, so it doesn’t make sense to deposit more. Once the seller accepts your offer, your money goes into escrow. There’s usually a contingency period during this stage, so you’ll have time to arrange your financing and make sure you’re satisfied with the condition of the house. If you decide you don’t want to move forward, you can get your money back without question. Just fill out a ‘cancellation of contract’ form and escrow will release your deposit funds. If you decide to move forward with the deal, the deposit becomes part of your down payment.
Q: Do I need to have a home inspection performed?
A: Yes. Even if the home seems to be in really good condition, I always recommend having an inspection performed before purchasing. An inspector will check all the different systems in the home for about $500, depending on the size of the property. You’ll get a list of things that need to be fixed, which you can use as leverage when negotiating price with the seller. In that way, the inspection usually pays for itself.
Q: Should I hold an open house to sell my home?
A: I always recommend holding an open house because both buyers and agents will come. My objective is to make sure anybody who’s in the market to buy a home similar to yours is aware of your house. So, every time I do an open house, I also advertise. I usually recommend holding at least one open house before you start accepting offers, because you never know if the first offer will be the highest one you get. For most homes, I hold two open houses and two broker tours within a 10-day period, which allows us to get proper exposure before we start accepting offers. That way, everyone who’s interested has a chance to look at your home and make a bid.
Q: Should I accept an offer from a buyer who isn’t prequalified?
A: Not unless they have cash or can show you a statement that proves they have cash. I would also look at other factors, like how much money they have down. If a cash issue were to come up, do they have the cash reserves to absorb it and keep the deal moving?
Q: If I’m buying a house, do I need to be prequalified for a loan?
A: Absolutely, unless you have a lot of cash. I discourage my clients from working with online lenders, so I can refer you to lenders who I’ve worked with before. People often think they’ll get a lower rate by going with an online lender, but it’s not a fair comparison. Online lenders usually don’t offer the same services that local lenders do. Plus, your credibility will be higher if you work with a lender that’s known and respected in the area—it puts you in a better light and may be the deciding factor that gets you the home.
Q: Do I need to fix up my home in order to sell it?
A: If you want top dollar, you should fix it up, but it also depends on your situation. If you just want to sell fast, you don’t have to fix it up, but you should understand that your selling price will be affected. There are some simple, inexpensive things you can do to make your home look better and sell quicker, but it’s important to not go overboard. I’ll help you determine the upgrades and repairs that make the most sense for your goals.
Read moreRead Less