Pinocchio – and Buying Time in Stockton Real Estate

The artist who conceived and painted the opening scene in Disney’s masterpiece, Pinocchio, was an old-world perfectionist. The opening shot was to employ an imaginative technical breakthrough that made it appear that the audience was swooping down out of the night sky into Geppetto’s workshop. The painting had to be distorted just so—in a way that had never been attempted.

The story goes that, after many frustrating delays, Disney’s producer had sent word that he would double the artist’s fee if he’d just hurry up. The artist refused, simply sending word, “I didn’t ask for more money. I asked for more time!”

For Stockton real estate, it’s a story that can have analogous meaning. Everyone has his or her own reasons for listing their home, and sometimes timing is of overriding importance. When professional imperatives call for an immediate change of location or when family matters create the same urgency, a speedy sale can take on primary importance. But there can be a variety of reasons why the market fails to produce a buyer. When just lowering the asking price fails to bring about the desired result, it can create a real conundrum.

Particularly for distinctive Stockton homes that have one-of-a-kind appeal, it might make sense to wait for a rare one-of-a-kind buyer to appear. In such situations, unlike the Disney example, it can be possible to “buy” time. One way is to examine the possibility of renting out the property. Even if the monthly rent doesn’t quite cover the mortgage, the loss can sometimes make financial sense if it allows time for the ultimate buyer to enter the market.

There are serious issues associated with such a stop-gap solution—and financial details that might make it impractical. In addition to the credit implications, there are tax repercussions— as well as the extra layer of complexity that’s added when a renter-occupied home is offered for sale. In any case, as the Washington Post noted in a feature on this solution, “…most sellers in this situation fail to think through all the factors…” that go into that decision.

It’s my job the be certain my clients are aware of the factors that are at play in not just this unusual situation, but in all Stockton real estate dealings. I will always be ready to discuss the trade-offs and solutions to your particular circumstances. Call me for a no-obligation consultation!

2020 ECONOMIC FORECAST

It’s hard to avoid recession chatter these days. Fueling such talk has been a slowdown in the pace of the economic growth in 2019 and the widespread expectation that the long-running economic expansion, which began in June 2009, is nearing its end. The economy is expected to grow modestly—by 2.2%—in 2020, barely higher than the projected growth of 2.1% in 2019, and much slower than the 2.9% expansion in 2018, when the economy got an initial boost from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Still, National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says a recession is unlikely in the year ahead. “We expect 2020 will be a year of slower growth but not a recession year. However, an all-out trade war would lead to an economic downturn in nearly every country, including the U.S.,” he says.

1. Unemployment Stays Low

The negative effects of the U.S.-China tariff fight include contracting exports and slumps in investor confidence and business spending. But overall, the economy has managed to grow on the back of strong consumer spending, generating about 2 million new jobs in 2019, with real wages rising. Unemployment reached a low of 3.5% in September, and job openings exceeded the ranks of the 5.8 million unemployed workers. The unemployment outlook remains steady at 3.8%.

2. Mortgage rates to sustain housing demand

“We don’t foresee the Fed raising the federal funds rates in 2020. A rate cut of at least 25 basis points in early 2020 is the likely scenario,” says Yun. With the Fed maintaining a low-interest-rate policy, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is expected to average 3.8% this year. Rates for 15-year fixed mortgages are also trending downward, from 3.4% to 3.1%. Low mortgage rates make purchasing a home more affordable, especially among the 46.5 million 25- to 34-year-olds who made up last year’s largest segment of home buyers. Given the existing conditions, home sales—existing and new homes combined—are expected to increase by a little over 4%, from 6 million in 2019 to 6.3 million in 2020.

3. Modest improvement in housing supply

Lack of housing inventory has been the primary constraint on the housing market. The housing supply is expected to improve this year, with housing starts expected to hit 1.42 million, up from 1.27 million last year. Still, the new supply will not meet the demand that will be created in 2020 by new household formation, estimated at 1.2 million, and demolished or obsolete housing, estimated at about 450,000. “Ramping up housing construction will continue to be central to improving home affordability and raising the level of home ownership,” says Yun.

4. Commercial

Bright Outlook for Multifamily and Industrial Properties

In the commercial market space, investors are expected to pay a premium for multifamily, industrial, and warehouse properties because of low rental vacancy rates and the sustained demand for ecommerce sales. Cap rates for these properties will likely remain historically low due to the premium for these properties over other assets like offices and retail malls.

Industrial properties are expected to continue to offer good returns for investors given the sustained demand for industrial space from online and traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Both are fiercely competing for consumer loyalty and spending by offering both offline and online shopping options. Examples include Amazon buying Whole Foods, Walmart offering delivery services, quick consumer gratification through one-day or same-day delivery from Amazon and other retailers, and experiential shopping, such as yoga clothing retailer Lululemon offering yoga classes.

The multifamily rental market, including owner-occupied housing, has suffered from inadequate construction. Low rental vacancy rates mean higher demand for apartments and high net operating income for investors. Investments in the multifamily market are needed to address the serious affordability problems for renters. “More multifamily construction, especially of affordable types such as microapartments in San Francisco and more affordable garden-type apartments elsewhere, will help ease the burden for renters,” says Yun.

Affordable Multifamily Housing Strategies

Nationally, nearly half of renters pay 30% or more of their income on rent and utilities. But in 10 states, the percentage of households spending 30% or more on rent is even higher: Florida (56.5%), Louisiana (55.8%), California (54.6%), Hawaii (52.9%), Delaware (52.6%), Connecticut (52.5%), New York (52%), Colorado (51.3%), Nevada (51.1%), and New Jersey (50.9%). Rising rents have spurred California, Oregon, and New York to pass statewide rent-control measures, but rent control is not a sustainable solution to a problem that is borne of a housing shortage. Rising rents can best be addressed by measures that increase the supply of affordable housing:

• Allowing more density in single-family zoned areas (such as in Minneapolis and Oregon);

• Permitting higher-density housing near transportation hubs (Minneapolis);

• Establishing inclusionary zoning policies, especially in opportunity zones that are financially viable for commercial developers and investors (Washington, D.C.);

• Reducing approval time and the uncertainty for project approvals and the associated cost arising from construction delays (such as easing utility and parking regulations for accessory dwelling units in California).

If you have questions concerning the 2020 real estate market in Stockton, please feel free to contact me anytime!!

Source: NAR outlook data from November 2019; apartment vacancy rate is based on U.S. Census Bureau data. Industrial, office, retail, and hotel vacancy rates are based on quarterly commercial surveys of REALTORS®.

Planning Real Estate Games for Next Year’s Holidays

We’ve just made it through another extended holiday season. This was one of those where Christmas and New Year’s fall in the middle of the week. For some families who are hosting the celebrations, that can tax their entertainment resources to the max. When it gets to the point where anyone’s best idea is to watch “Die Hard” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” for a second time, you know new thinking is called for.

Even more dire, next year the situation will be compounded. Stockton’s holidays will fall on a Friday—for host families, the most extreme holiday predicament. It will call for the utmost entertainment ingenuity. Here is an absolutely original suggestion for next year:

Hold a family Real Estate Word Game competition!

Since it’s unlikely previous real estate word game competitions have been held in the past, here are some suggestions to spark the creativity that will be necessary by 2019’s year-end:

Real estate riddles—like,

“Why did the real estate agent cross the road?” (Answer: to put up an Open House sign).

“What do you call a sprinkler system that won’t turn off?” (Answer: A source of constant irrigation)

“If two antennas on a house for sale get married, what’s the result? (Answer: a brilliant reception)

“What three letters are the opposite of ‘FSBO?”   (Answer: REO).

“What does ‘REO’ stand for? (Answer: Real Estate Owned)

“What the heck does that mean? (Answer: a bank owns the property)

“Why is that important? (Answer: because the bank probably wants to sell it ASAP!)

Real estate knock knock jokes—like,

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Needle.

Needle who?

Needle little help selling this house!

 

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Police.

Police who?

Police stop with these real estate jokes!

——————

Needless to say, it’s a good thing that next holiday season is a year off—we’ll all need at least that much time to work on less groan-producing examples. But in the meantime, whenever you need some real estate expertise that’s no joke—call me!

 

THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR LOYAL CLIENTS, FOLLOWERS AND READERS!!

As the year winds down we enjoy reflecting on all of  the blessings that have come our way in  2019. We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of our clients, followers and readers for their business and referrals for all of their real estate needs this year. 2019 has been another banner year for Bright Side Real Estate and we are looking forward to 2020.
In 2019, the market improved with values up 11% in most areas of Stockton. Over 3900 homes have been sold in the last 12 months and we were very excited to be part of that.
Best wishes to all of you for this Holiday Season and Happy New Year!

The State of Mind Called “Christmas”

This holiday season finds Stockton’s streets and stores humming with as much activity as has been seen for some time—which brings us to a particularly upbeat year’s end. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa that’s spelled out in overhead banners, this is the one time of year when the commercial activity that marks all the big holidays is accompanied by a special spiritual overlay.

The hustle and bustle that’s led up to this week may have kept most of Stockton’s parents, grandparents and everybody else busy collecting gifts and preparing for the gatherings we reinvent annually, but it’s nearly impossible not to also call to mind some of the indescribable wonder from childhood days.

That must have been in mind when, nearly a century ago, then-President Calvin Coolidge opened his holiday season message to the American people with,

Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind.”

“Silent Cal” nailed it in just those few words; he was famous for that! Today in Stockton we call it a mindset—and that’s probably why this time of year it’s permissible to share such high-minded thoughts without fear of being judged overly sanctimonious.

Taking full advantage of that license, here is one author’s incisive counter to the season’s excessively materialistic trappings:

Christmas gift suggestions:

“To your enemy, forgiveness.

To an opponent, tolerance.

To a friend, your heart.

To a customer, service.

To all, charity.

To every child, a good example.

To yourself, respect.

— Oren Arnold

 

In the same spirit, I wish you all the beauty, all the blessings—and especially all the joy the season can bring!

Does a Grinch Lurk for Stockton Home Buyers and Sellers?

In a recent article, the Washington Post described “a holiday gift” that could find its way to the doorsteps of Stockton home seller and buyers. The Post might not have identified him by name, but there was also a hint that the Grinch could be lurking in the shadows.

Real estate writer Kathy Orton’s headline story described an unanticipated December boon “for those looking to buy or refinance a home.” It was a package that materialized in the wake of wild fluctuations in the stock market. A variety of national and international worries had combined to trigger widespread “investor anxiety.” The result a headline echoed in the Mortgage Bankers Association daily newsletter:“Mortgage Rates Plunge to Their Lowest Level in Three Months.”

For prospective Stockton home buyers who have been hoping to lock in favorable home loan offers, the news could have seemed worthy of a scene out of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But before that holiday standard’s joyous ending could be echoed in real life, home buyers who were slow to react might be cautioned that another Christmas classic might be called to mind before long.

Last year, the Post’s “holiday gift” could fall prey to a Grinch-like plot twist. In this year’s real-life Stockton version, that villainous role might be played by the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee. “Markets do not expect another rate hike in December” according to one economist. In fact, there could be another decline in rates early 2020. This will be a boost for real estate sales in spring.

”Meantime, Danielle Hale of Realtor.com offered a prognosis that wavered midway between Dr. Seuss and Wonderful Life. “Although we don’t see it in this week’s data,” the Chief Economist said, “momentum has started to shift…”Buying or selling Stockton homes isn’t something that’s hatched in the mind of a creative artist or Hollywood producer—but it can be influenced by plot twists like mortgage interest rate shifts. In every season, I make sure my clients stay informed of all events that impact the buying and selling of Stockton homes.

When that becomes your own focus, do call me!

Stockton Home Sales During The Holidays Happen For A Reason! When Santa Really Does Deliver a New Family Home!   Holiday Home Sales: The Ultimate Present?

Okay, granted: a new family home won’t fit under the tree…

This year, Stockton TVs have been filled with commercials that mix Santa with new automobiles. If you believe the ads, a number of automakers apparently offer models that will fly like reindeer onto driveways for big boys and girls who are sufficiently nice. One do-gooder is portrayed stitching up Santa’s ripped tunic in an act of selfless un-naughtiness that earns him a new sedan on the big day.

I’m pleased to say we haven’t seen a National Association of Realtors® commercial with Santa and elves flying a new home onto a surprised family’s driveway, but the idea is no more divorced from reality than Santa’s barn full of vintage Mercedes (it looks like he loves the red gullwing best). If you’ve never thought about shopping for a home during the year-end holiday season, you might be surprised to consider that in some cases this is a very fortuitous time of year for home sales. Aside from the few who can actually give such a fantastic gift (it actually happens!), there are a couple of other reasons why holiday Stockton home sales do take place:

Lower Prices

First of all, nothing typifies the holiday spirit quite like the spirit of generosity—and at this time of year, there are some Stockton home sellers who are predisposed to be more generous than usual. The possibility of their accepting lower offers doesn’t necessarily owe to holiday altruism decking their halls. Fewer visits and fewer offers are made over the holidays, while at the same time there are a number of circumstances that could materially benefit sellers who can close out the Old and usher in the New before calendar year’s end. In some cases, as Forbes points out, home sales may be a matter of the seller wanting to complete the transaction before year’s end for tax purposes—or simply to get the sale out of the way.

Favorable Rates

When you buy in part determines how much you’ll pay, and the waning days of 2014 still offer historically low home loan interest rates. Whether home sales in Stockton during the coming year will long be able to boast the same advantage is a matter of conjecture, but certainly this is one year when beneficial rates are in place. Last-minute year-end shoppers may reap a happier holiday if they’ve locked in the kind of rates currently available.

Asking Santa for a new Stockton home may sound like a bit of an overreach, but for those who make this year’s holiday buying benefits work in their favor, it can be a most memorable season! And for the rest of us who will be leaving a chocolate chip cookie and milk by the fireplace…it couldn’t hurt, could it?

 

5 + 5 Winter and Seasonal Notes for Stockton Households 5+5 Precautions Forestall Stockton Winter Emergencies 5+5 Heads-Ups Prevent Stockton Winter Emergencies

At the same time California’s Santa Ana winds were dealing chaos in the west, the premature arrival of winter weather was pounding the other side of the country compliments of Winter Storm Benji. The unprecedented December snowfall started in New Orleans and worked its way all the way up the East Coast to Maine—all of which made last week’s Consumer Reports’ article unusually timely.

CR happened to have published a heads-up on ways to cope when winter storms interfere with daily routines. Stockton winter weather may not regularly trigger Alaskan-level emergency situations, but it’s still a worthwhile reminder for Stockton householders to be prepared for any nasty winter onslaughts that California might have in store for us.

These five areas were highlighted as most important (they’re also recommended by HUD):

  1. Smoke Detectors—they’re required for every Stockton home, but if you haven’t checked them lately, now is the time.
  2. Carbon Monoxide Alarms—portable fuel-burning appliances produce CO—but so do fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and even water heaters. When all the windows are sealed, deadly accumulations are possible.
  3. Generator—if your house is in an area frequently subject to outages, even a small unit to power at least the refrigerator and electronics can be a godsend—but only when it is properly vented!
  4. Fire Extinguisher—surprisingly few Stockton homes have recently inspected fire extinguishers.
  5. Auto Cellphone charger—communications are more important than ever if the power goes out.

And while we are thinking about safety, the National Safety Council has these Safe Holiday Season topics worth noting:

  1. Wear gloves when arranging “angel hair” (it’s spun glass that can irritate your skin).
  2. Don’t inhale when spraying artificial snow.
  3. Use a proper step ladder when hanging holiday decorations—even if a chair is right there!
  4. Check light strings for frayed or exposed wires.
  5. Make sure paths are clear “so no one trips on wrapping paper, decorations, and toys.”

Emergency preparations and accident prevention can be easily overlooked as we enter the hectic Stockton holiday season, but timely precautions can result in holiday-saving results. Meantime, I’ll be standing by, too, ready to help should any Stockton real estate matters arise!

 

The Holidays: Once-a-Year Opportunity for Selling a Stockton Home!!! The Holiday Advantage for Selling Your Home in Stockton!!! Singular Advantage to Selling a Stockton Home over the Holidays!!!

I’m always a little surprised that more people don’t take advantage of the holiday season to sell their Stockton home. The spring selling season may be the most popular, but there are a host of reasons why, for a home that is already market-ready, you might think twice about waiting to list it.

Among the leading reasons that make this an especially advantageous time of year to sell an Stockton home is the financial motivation for some prospective buyers. Especially when an individual’s financial picture changes toward year’s end, a few prospective buyers find that the tax advantages of a purchase in the current year are reason enough to speed a sudden purchase. Classical supply and demand forces add another reason the decision to sell a home in Stockton now could be a good one. Since Stockton listing volumes taper off toward the end of the year, the choices are relatively few, increasing the value of each to motivated buyers.

Experience tells us that the average holiday-season buyer does tend to be more highly motivated, if for no other reason than that they are choosing to house hunt over all the other activities the season calls for. In short, this is not the season for lookyloos. There is also the advantage that holiday decorations add. The emotional appeal of a well done (not overdone!) display can augment a Stocktons home’s underlying curb appeal. Add to that the fact that all of us tend to be a bit more emotional during the holidays, and it wouldn’t be surprising to find buyers more flexible in what they are willing to bid. As every merchant has come to realize, the holidays are shopping days.

For those who will be traveling for the holidays, rather than that being a reason to put off listing, those days can be ideal times to sell your Stockton home. The house will be unoccupied, clean and available for showings at any time of day—the perfect situation for turning the otherwise slow holiday season into a standout to those buyers who need a home now.

I will be working throughout, so give me a call if selling your Stockton house is an idea that makes good sense. The more available you make your home during the holidays, the more likely you’ll find a buyer during this hectic time of year.

Autumn Leaves Signal Home Improvement Season High Time for Improving Homes in Stockton Less-Than-Obvious Stockton Home Improvement Ideas

Ah, November! Down every street we see the familiar sight of homes in Stockton, yards displaying evidence of the fall leaf drop and — yikes! — Winter is coming!

Beyond the unavoidable home maintenance issues: leaks in roof, cracks in windows, heating system checks, fall is also the best time to consider other, less obvious improvement projects.  Whenever the weather (and busy schedules) allow, whether or not yours is one of the homes in Stockton that will soon have a ‘For Sale’ in its front yard, a few less attention-demanding home improvement ideas that could merit your attention:

Fireplace Inspection! A crackling fire is a worthy antidote for winter blahs, but if you have a good, old-fashioned wood-burning fireplace, when is the last time you actually had it inspected? Experts say that chimneys should be examined annually for cracks, blockages, and ventilation issues.

Flooring Renewal! If you have one of the many homes in Stockton that features beautiful hardwood floors, refinishing them may not be high on your To-Do list this fall. Yet whether you are considering selling anytime soon or not, consider the advantages of re-finishing floors sooner rather than later. With the holidays on the way, who doesn’t want a home in sparkling shape for entertaining? The look of floors has an outsized impact on the way a home appears. And if you have been thinking of actually replacing any flooring, according to George Moore, a contractor and chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers,  “Some types of flooring adhesives need the temperature of the house to be between 75 and 80 degrees. It’s for that glue to adhere properly.  Cold air can be a little more damp and can stop the glue from drying properly, so you could have a bonding problem.”   With energy prices rising, replacing flooring now may be a more practical solution than in the depth of winter.

Painting! For the same reason, homes in Stockton that could use a protective exterior painting should be attended to now – at least if temperatures hold within recommended limits. Indoors, once it’s time to crank the heat, other reasons apply. A heated home means closed windows and re-circulating air – far from ideal conditions for anyone trapped indoors with the smells and paint fumes.  Moreover, should a significant amount of cold air enter through doorways or windows, it could negatively affect proper drying.

The bottom line?  Because many improvement projects are well suited for the fall, it is also true that contractors and vendors are busiest this time of year. So, if you’re thinking about any that take outside help, get on the books now!  Whether you’re looking to sell a home in Stockton — or just keeping yours in top shape, this is a great time to get started. I’m here, too, whenever you feel like chatting about the local real estate market!