The Santa Cruz Real Estate Blog

Looking for news,  Santa Cruz County real estate trends, and general information about the real estate market in Santa Cruz County? You have come to the right place.  Stay informed of local Santa Cruz real estate market information with The Coastal Bay Team. We are proud to offer you our blog which will be loaded with information to assist you in your search for that perfect home in the Santa Cruz real estate market as well as local communities in the Santa Cruz Area.

Feb. 7, 2017

Wire Fraud At Closing

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Association of REALTORS® have announced concerns over closing cost scams.

Wire Fraud Scam

Here's how the scam works: Hackers break into a consumer's or real estate professional's email account to search for upcoming real estate transactions and closing dates. Then, hackers pose as the agent or title officer and email the homebuyer with a last-minute change to the wiring instructions.

Should buyers wire money to the account, they will lose the money and likely lose the home they've been waiting for due to a lack of funds.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your clients don't fall victim to this scam:

Ensure you have a united effort between agents, loan officers, closing attorneys and title officers to remind buyers of the dangers of this scam.

Verify that changes to wiring instructions will not be requested by email. Remind buyers to be alert. They should not follow instructions regarding closing funds solely from an email but when instructed to do so in person or by phone.

Add a brief warning to your email signature that reminds clients to remain cautious about suspicious messages during their transaction, especially near closing. Do not conduct business over public Wi-Fi and be cautious about links that you click on.

As an agent, transaction information is a highly valuable target for scammers and hackers. Use secure document technology such as DocuSign or zipLogix for sharing and signing any sensitive documents.

Remember, email is almost never a secure communication platform, so take precautions to protect your clients.

Posted in Mortgages & Loans
Jan. 22, 2017

Private Mortgage Insurance - Not All the Same

Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI is insurance to protect the lender in the event that a homeowner defaults and the lender is forced to foreclose. PMI comes in three flavors and, depending on loan type, can be paid upfront, monthly and/or financed into the home buyer's interest rate or loan amount.

Upfront PMI is insurance that is paid or financed along with the loan amount at the time of closing, depending on the loan program and its requirements. In some cases, the upfront PMI is also referred to as a Guarantee or Funding Fee, as in the case of loans guaranteed by the USDA Rural Development or VA. In the case of an FHA loan, mortgage insurance is called the Mortgage Insurance Premium or MIP. In lieu of being paid on a monthly basis for loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (conventional loans), a borrower can choose to finance their PMI when allowed by the lender.

In addition to upfront MIP, monthly MIP is also required for FHA loans and for USDA loans. However, for VA loans no monthly mortgage insurance is required.

With conventional loans where not financed or paid upfront, PMI can be paid on a monthly basis either separately or in exchange for Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI). Where offered, LPMI results in the borrower paying a slightly higher interest rate.

Posted in Mortgages & Loans
Feb. 18, 2012

12 Steps To Reduce Stress When Selling Your Santa Cruz Home

BE PROACTIVE in the market analysis of your home-ask important questions like “Why does this comp matter?” Require an honest assessment of your home.

BUILD A MARKETING strategy that is consistent with the market pressures along with your needs.

DEMAND THAT YOU are kept in the information loop- This is your life not someone else’s. Knowing what is going on will help you keep more in control of it.

PREPARE YOURSELF-always assume you will be blind-sided by things that you cannot control or could never have anticipated.

ALWAYS DIG INTO an offer from a risk point of view- counter where too much risk is apparent.

MAKE ABSOLUTELY certain all risk management dates are very tight, reasonable and achievable.

ALWAYS INSIST on a loan approval date and a closing document date a couple of days before the closing.

ALWAYS DOT every i and cross every t in all contracts, addendums and all documents sent to the underwriter.

ALWAYS EXPECT that there will be inspection issues, no matter how perfect your home is. Address those issues as related to your motivation-sometimes you need to just “pinch your nose and do it.”

ALWAYS HAVE a comp package and copy of the contract for the appraiser-it really helps the appraiser.

NEVER AGREE to a possession date on the day of the closing-unless there is no risk to you.

NEVER MOVE OUT before a closing unless all risk is mitigated and it is to your benefit.

Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 18, 2012

How Do I Get Top Dollar For My House in Santa Cruz?

Tough Question

This is truly a common question with a tough answer. The reason this is a difficult question to answer is that we really need to know more about what your true goals are before establishing a game plan. The question is Do we care about the price more than anything or do we care about maximizing the bottom line? We have found that typically the best route is to balance efforts and expenditures to make sure the end result is justified.

Taking the question at face value, the answer would be very simple to answer. Rip out the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring. Retexture all the walls, paint them with pottery barn colors and put it all back together with very high quality products and fixtures. However, this would assume that you have endless resources and nothing else to do but work on your home. The reality is, typically you have a limited budget, a job, a family, and a life that typically will take precedence over working on you home all of the time. Combine this with the Santa Cruz Real Estate Market pressures that limit the return-on-your-investment (ROI) and the conclusion becomes that the best approach is to redirect your focus from the maximum sales price to maximum bottom line.

Maximizing the Bottom Line

Maximizing your bottom line typically involves utilizing the core of what you have, putting forth some effort and some money to make your home the best it can possibly be within the confines of the current market. Thousands of dollars and months of work does not necessarily improve your bottom line in an effort to catch a larger sales price. We always like to see a big bang for the buck!

There are lots of factors to consider when trying to maximize the value of your home and it is important to talk about all of them. In the end everyone’s situation is different including yours. We as your realtor have to tailor this process to your situation and weigh the factors that are specific to you.

We feel like that you are best served when we give you the information you need for your situation and provide assistance, specialized knowledge, and service that is second to none. Then you can make the best decision that works for you. If you are considering selling your Santa Cruz home, call us for a consultation and we will assist you in maximizing your bottom line as well as selling your home.

Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 18, 2012

Property Tax Time in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County Property Taxes

This is the only time of the year you as a homeowner in Santa Cruz County will think that your home should be worth less.

Around this time of the year we get a lot of calls asking our help with property valuation appeals. There are two ways you as a homeowner may be able to get your property valuation changed:

They Have Got Your House All Wrong

If Santa Cruz County has any particulars about your home incorrect you may have a case to have your taxes reduced and could appeal. Take a close look at your valuation notice and make sure that Santa Cruz County has the correct bedrooms, bathrooms, types of bathrooms (half, three quarter, full), square footage, garage spaces, basement finish etc. If any of these are wrong, chances are it will have an impact on your property taxes. For example: You have a 1 car garage and the Santa Cruz County Assessor says you have a 2 car garage.

The Comparable Sales Are Wrong

This one has become a bit trickier. Technology has made it much easier for the county to assess the value of your home. They used to use the three best comps and those were the basis, now they use 100’s of sales to assess value-making this approach much harder to appeal.

But, technology today makes it much easier for you to do your homework as well. If you find comps that lead you to believe that your home has decreased in value you can make a request to have your property reviewed due to a decline in value. You can find the “Request For Decline In Value Review” form on the Santa Cruz County Assessor’s website. Click here to go directly to the online form: Request For Decline In Value Review.

When completing the form make sure that you include at least 3 comps that supports your opinion of the value of your home. Generally, Santa Cruz County does a good job on assessments but it is incumbent upon you to make sure that they have the data correct and are using the most appropriate comps.

Need assistance? The Coastal Bay Team is always happy to help. Providing you service second to none.

Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 11, 2012

The Santa Cruz Coastal Bay Real Estate Team Launches its Website

On February 1, 2012, Coastal Bay Real Estate officially launched their website at The website is designed to offer you access to Free MLS property listings in the Santa Cruz County real estate market with e-mail updates. The site also provides some great information and useful links about each market in Santa Cruz County.

Utilizing the Free MLS property search function you are able to enter your search criteria and narrow your property listing search results by several various variables to include but not exclusive to: number of bedrooms, number of baths, price, lot size, view, and year the home was built.

When you sign up on the Coastal Bay Real Estate site you will gain access to additional features such as the ability to save your favorite listings and receive regular e-mail updates of new homes that are listed which meet your search criteria.

Bob Henkel the owner of Coastal Bay Real Estate has been working in the Santa Cruz Real Estate Market for over 20 years and has gathered a team of professional real estate agents and mortgage brokers into The Coastal Bay Team.

The Coastal Bay Team specializes in real estate markets throughout Santa Cruz County. Real Estate markets such as Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Aptos, Soquel, and Capitola just to name a few. For a complete list of real estate markets in Santa Cruz visit the Coastal Bay Real Estate Site.

Bob Henkel said “The Coastal Bay Team is the ultimate real estate dream team” which he has put together to ensure each client has a complete team at their disposal with specialized experience in the Santa Cruz County real estate market to assist them with their home buying or selling needs.

Bob also said that “Coastal Bay Real Estate is committed to providing each client with the best service possible and to exceed their client’s expectations”

Bob Henkel would like to personally invite you to check out Coastal Bay Real Estate’s new website and try some of the free features such as their advanced MLS property search.

Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 11, 2012

The Coastal Bay Team is Now on Yelp

We are proud to announce that the Coastal Bay Team is now on Yelp. If you have been enjoying the services of our website to include all of the free MLS listings of the Santa Cruz County area and regular e-mail updates, we would love to hear from you. If you are one of our many satisfied clients whom we have helped buy or sell a home, we would also love to hear from you. Take a momment and check us out on Yelp, we would love to read what you have to say about your experience working with the Coastal Bay Team.

If you are new to our site and you are just beginning to utilize our free service or if you have just started working with one of our team memebers and are beginning your search for a new home in the Santa Cruz Real Estate Market we would also love to hear from you. Check us out on Yelp here: Coastal Bay Real Estate on Yelp

Or if you are ready to write a review of the Santa Cruz Coastal Bay Team you can click on the following Icon.



Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 4, 2012

Your Rental History Can Help you Purchase a Home in Santa Cruz

That’s right! If you have a history of paying your rent on time, your chances of qualifying for a mortgage and purchasing a home in the Santa Cruz Real Estate Market might just be better the before.

According to an article posted in the New York Times:

“Last year Experian, a leading credit-reporting company added a section to millions of credit reports showing on-time rent payments, and many people had their credit scores increased.”

What does this mean for you? If you are or were a renter you may just got a nice boost to your credit score which could increase your chances of qualifying for a mortgage and be eligible for lower interest rates. This could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

Additionally, if you are one of the many unfortunate Americans who have recently lost their home to a foreclosure or are currently facing foreclosure this is also good news for you. If you are now leasing a home you may be able to rebuild your credit history by being a “very responsible renter”. That means paying your rent on time and not breaking your leases.

If your landlord is participating, your rental contract may show up on your credit report as a debt owed for 12 months. If your landlord is not reporting to Experian your on-time rental payments you can build your own rental history by documenting on-time payments.

Be an informed consumer and watch your credit report. Maintaining a good credit report is a key factor in obtaining lower interest rates on your mortgage, lower insurance rates, and lower rates on consumer loans.

Just a tidbit from the Coastal Bay Team in an effort to assist you on your journey to homeownership in Santa Cruz County.

Posted in Credit
Jan. 21, 2012

Get the Best Mortgage Interest Rate

  1. Make sure you are working with an experienced, professional loan officer. One of the largest financial transactions of your life is far too important to place into the hands of someone who is not capable of advising you properly, and troubleshooting the issues that may arise along the way.

  2. Make sure you are working with a mortgage professional who tracks interest rates on the right index.   Which index?   The only correct answer is Mortgage Backed Securities or Mortgage Bonds, NOT the 10-year Treasury Note. While the 10-year Treasury Note sometimes trends in the same direction as Mortgage Bonds, it is not unusual to see them move in completely opposite directions. DO NOT work with a lender who has their eyes on the wrong indicators.  Run…DON’T WALK...Run to a lender that does. 
  3. Make sure you work with someone who knows what the next Economic Report or event is that could cause interest rate movement. A professional lender will have this at their fingertips. Call for an up-to-date calendar of weekly economic reports and events that may cause rates to fluctuate.  Or, let me know if you want to be added to my email distribution list for weekly updates of this current information.
  4. Make sure you work with someone who knows when Bernanke and the Fed “change  rates”  and  what  this  means  about  what  impact  it  has  on  mortgage interest rates.  The answer may surprise you. When the Fed makes a move, they can change a rate called the “Fed Funds Rate,” or “Discount Rate.” These are both very short-term rates that impact credit cards, Home Equity credit lines, auto loans, and the like. On the day of the Fed move, mortgage rates most often will actually move in the opposite direction as the Fed change. This is due to the dynamics within the financial markets in response to inflation. For more information and explanation, just give me a call.
  5. Make  sure  you  work  with  a  professional  who  has  access  to  live,  real  time, mortgage bond quotes.  If a lender cannot explain how Mortgage Bonds and interest rates are moving, in real time, and warn you in advance of a costly intra-day price change, you are talking with someone who is still reading yesterday’s newspaper, and probably not a professional you would entrust your home mortgage financing. Would you work with a stockbroker who only grabs yesterday’s paper to tell you how a stock traded, but had no idea what the movement looks like at the present time and what market conditions could cause changes in the near future? No way!
Posted in Mortgages & Loans
Jan. 21, 2012

The Top 10 Things You Should Not Do Before Closing Escrow

10. Increase balances on existing credit cards or apply for new credit. (no credit checks should occur during the entire loan process!)

9. Purchase a car or shop for a car.

8. Open a new bank account or make large deposits. (the source for all deposits over $500 showing on the last 2 months bank statements needs to be verified)

7. Transfer funds from one account to another.

6. Shift credit card debt from one Creditor to another.

5. Sell major assets.

4. Get married, divorced, or go on maternity leave.

3. Go on vacation…making you unavailable to the Lender.

2. Borrow money from any source.

1. Change employers or quit your job.

Posted in Mortgages & Loans