Sheree’s 7 Frugal Fall Decorating Ideas!!

1. Create sweet and simple pumpkin vases.
Find small pie pumpkins or pumpkin gourds at your local gardening center or market. Take a knife and carefully remove the top, carving out the inside about 1 inch deep. Add a few tablespoons of water or a damp tissue and add fresh fall flower stems such as mums.

2. Make some dried apple garlands.
Slice apples into thin strips and either dry in a food dehydrator or on low in your oven for about 60 minutes. You can even sprinkle the slices with cinnamon if you wish. String the slices on some red or orange ribbon and hang from your mantel, doorway, or anywhere else you choose. This garland provides a rustic look and plenty of spicy sweet smells to your home.

3. Arrange some colorful candle groupings.
Visit your local dollar store for candles in an assortment of fall colors such as yellow, red, and orange. Look for various sizes. Now, assemble the candles on a large gold charger or plate. This makes the perfect centerpiece or mantel decoration. Whether you light the candles or not is up to you, but either way it will look lovely.

4. Round up some rustic accents.
Search your local thrift store or even your garage or attic for some rustic accents. Look for old metal watering cans, ironwork, cast iron pots, metal planters, or other rustic pieces that you can display mums, apples, or pumpkins in. The rustier it is, the better!

5. Give an old chair a pop of fall color.
Find an old chair at a thrift store or in your own garage and give it a pop of fun fall color. A bright yellow, orange, or burnt red will make it warm and reflective of the season. Plus, you can use the piece to display other fall accents.

6. Liven up a space with linens.
Change out your old linens with fresh fall ones. Look for towels, throw pillows, runners, and rugs in warm fall colors and change them out with your summer pieces.  Your room will instantly feel warmer and cozier once you add those pops of red, gold, orange, sage green and more.

7. Create a gourd gathering.
In a large bowl or vessel of some type, arrange a large selection of gourds and apples. These are as low as a quarter at your local market, so you can really get some bang for your buck. Place these in clear cylinder vases, large bowls, or arrange on a colorful charger. You can even add in mums, rustic accents, acorns, pinecones, or anything else nature provides you for FREE!

Listings in Stockton Present a Fair (but Annoying) Challenge

Today’s Stockton listings represent a gigantic leap forward in terms of market efficiency. It’s hard to imagine a speedier and more convenient way for prospective home buyers to examine the array of Stockton properties currently being offered. For the sellers, too, the Stockton listings provide a matchless system for examining the neighborhood competition. In a matter of minutes, homeowners can make certain that their offering is positioned in line with what the current market supports.
The Stockton listings are also extremely fair in how local homes for sale are presented. On most sites, properties are given the same amount of space in blocks that are scrupulously identical. Since every property is shown using the same format, it’s extremely even-handed— From the real estate marketer’s point of view, that quality also makes it extremely annoying.
The thing is, the very last thing in the world a marketer looks for is fairness and even-handedness in presentation. A major tool for any marketer is the use of superior graphics and design to make their product stand out from the competition. In Stockton real estate terms, the last thing a marketer seeks to produce is a presentation that’s exactly the same as everybody else’s. But there’s little choice. Since the Stockton listings are far-and-away the leading funnel through which first contact with potential buyers is made, the cookie-cutter uniformity of the Stockton listing formats are a hurdle that has to be overcome.
One of the factors that marketing experts strive to identify is sometimes called the “X-factor.” As was true on the X-Factor TV reality show, it refers to an elusive quality or feature that makes one thing stand out from other similar competitors. When it comes to real estate, a prime objective is memorability. When there are many listings, it becomes all too easy for a property to get lost in the shuffle. But if a house is lucky enough to be architecturally unique, its X-factor can simply be its signature glamor photo: the “curb appeal” shot. Even if every listing is restricted to a same-size slot, if the shot is sufficiently eye-catching, the house will be a standout, and the marketing challenge will be met. 
The technical details (asking price, number of bedrooms and baths; square footage, lot size, mechanicals, etc.) may add up to a magnificent value story, but since there can be other offerings with similar features, that may not help overcome the even-handedness of the listing format. What’s left is the descriptive language—the short blurb that becomes the one other opportunity to present an X factor that will stick in prospects’ minds. A good example might be a phrase that introduces a sociability factor, like “great for entertaining!” Others may describe unique views or the convenience of a prime central neighborhood location.
Making the most of the messaging opportunities possible with each of the many different electronic and other media is decisive in today’s real estate marketplace. When it’s time to add your property to the Stockton listings, I hope you’ll give me a call to discuss creating the marketing approach that gets your job done!

 

What Single Standout Factor Makes a Stockton Luxury Home?

 

When you are selling your Stockton luxury home, you are marketing to a narrow niche of the home-buying public. They’re high-end customers, certain to be very smart, business-savvy—and they will know their own mind. They will be hunting for value, of course, because the asking price warrants it. But they will also be looking for a property that has elements that are unique—that appeal to buyers who hope to find a residence not duplicated elsewhere.

Because of that characteristic of the market, there can be no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach that will be uniformly effective as a sales approach. There are, however, a few hallmarks that the most successful Realtors® have discovered are shared by the most appealing luxury homes. They boil down to value, exclusivity…and to story-telling.

The exposure element is the more straightforward. It used to be that the only important element was to be had in print media: magazine, newspaper, brochure and flyer. Still important, today the much wider reach is had through internet and social media. Like all Stockton real estate prospects, buyers interested in the current crop of luxury homes are most likely to investigate using at least some online research before scheduling an in-person visit. And what they experience on the web will be influential in how eager they will be to make time for that visit.

It goes without saying that for every Stockton luxury home web presentation, the quality of the imagery has to be first-rate—Professional real estate photographers do more than highlight key room features shot from eye-pleasing angles. The best know how to paint with light—to shape viewer experience by selecting the time of day and color of light and shadow that will convey mood. Sometimes a true online video tour, complete with well-produced music and narration tracks, can also be the most effective tool—as long as the online viewing experience is brief, intuitive and easy to navigate. But no matter which medium and format is pressed into service, the goal is always to create a viewer experience that is unique and memorable.

And it should have a story.

That ‘story’ could be anything from an interesting history to a setting or view that is, literally, unique. It can be an overpowering constellation of luxury home features, or a history of owners that includes prominent community or cultural luminaries. It can be standout architectural innovations, landscaping worthy of a Homes and Gardens centerfold, or a layout that just happens to be perfectly well-matched to a particular client’s family—any and all can qualify. The single indispensable part of the mix is that the property’s unique character comprises a story worth retelling. It’s human nature, after all every Stockton luxury home buyer, whether they realize it or not, would like to be able to tell friends and colleagues about their new luxury home!

If you have an Stockton home with its own luxury story waiting to be told—or if you’re in the hunt for one—I hope you will give me a call!

5 Real Estate Quiz Questions Present a Challenge For Stockton Homeowners

 

One reason why Stockton real estate commentators like to offer quizzes is to make readers feel good about how much they know. Being that Stockton homeowners probably do more than an average amount of reading about Stockton real estate matters, you would expect that any real estate-themed quiz would succeed in creating that kind of warm, positive experience.

This is not that kind of quiz.

I put it together because it’s a quick way to present some of the more unlikely survey results. They are culled from recent National Association of Realtors® informational articles. The quiz may not foster warm feelings of knowledgeability, but to compensate, it’s shorter than most of those web quizzes (who has time to answer 25 questions?).

Ready? Set! GO!

1)     Which of the following features is likely to slow a home’s sale:

A) Swimming Pool   B) Big backyard  C) Small backyard  D) All the above

E) None of the above

2)     Which of these is likely to help a home sell more quickly:

A) More than one story  B) Superlative renovations   C) Small backyard

D) Big backyard   E) None of the above

3)     Which of these is likely to be worthwhile for a new Stockton homeowner?

A) Extended appliance warranty   B) Gardener    C) Shopping for insurance

D) Improving the yard   E) None of the above

4)     Which of these trends are widely predicted for 2021?

A)  home prices will remain stable B) home sales will decline  C) average days on market will increase D) the Midwest will lead in home sales  E) none of the above  F) all of the above

5)     Which of these is recommended for first time home buyers?

A) Less closet space than you think you need B) More closet space than you think you need C) Dining room D) No dining room  E) Add a koi pond  E) None of the above

Answers: 1) D. Studies show small backyards can retard sales, as can swimming pools and overly large backyards, due to maintenance concerns.    2) E. More people don’t like the hassle of stair-climbing than appreciate the exercise; big, ambitious renovations seldom return the investment; big or small backyards: same as above.    3) C) Shopping around for the best insurance offer is always wise; but appliance warranties generally don’t return their cost; paying a gardener vs. doing yard work yourself is often a financial loser (I disagree with the NAR on this one—for many busy Stockton homeowners, pro gardeners are worth their weight in gold); big yard improvements should wait until you’ve experienced all four seasons    4)this was the easiest to guess: A) expect home prices to rise B) expect 1.9% more homes to be sold C) the pace of sales is expected to quicken D) West Coast should lead in home sales    5) A and D. The most common first-timers’ regrets are paying for too much spare closet space and seldom-used formal dining rooms.

A Cool Reception as Stockton Summer Arrives

Sunday officially marks the end Stockton’s summer season, but Mother Nature doesn’t always consult the calendar before she rolls out the week’s weather. In any case, sooner or later we’ll be experiencing what happens when the summer heat hits the “sweltering” mark, at which point Stockton householders will want their premises to be reliable refuges.

Even though last week’s national Energy Information Administration predictions called for only moderate energy cost increases short-term (and higher costs in 2022), when the heat index registers anything less than “heat wave” intensity, Stockton household budget minders have some options to help them keep cool under the collar as well as under the roof. A fair number of them involve fans.

For homes which aren’t situated where cross ventilation happens automatically, the simple addition of a box fan or two can make a world of difference. The trick is to place it or them where they can move air from cooler to warmer areas without creating foot traffic jams—and to be willing to move them from place to place as conditions change.

Window fans can bring significant temperature moderation on shady sides of the house—and the ‘Reverse’ switch can evacuate hot air when the sun makes it necessary.

An attic fan is a more permanent solution. For houses that have sparse shade cover, it can provide enormous amounts of heat relief with moderate energy consumption—especially when the insulation is up to snuff.

Ceiling fans operate with minimal expense. The cooling wind chill effect on skin makes a room feel as much as 8 degrees cooler—while saving up to 40% of what turning on the air conditioning can cost. Springtime weather makes it easy to forget, but in case you haven’t done so yet, it’s high time to reverse the blade motion: summer calls for the counterclockwise direction. It’s set correctly when you are to feel the air move when you stand beneath the fan.

Of course, the real long-term energy-saver is the most ancient and natural one: shade. Strategic placement is the ticket. Now is the time to plant trees and foliage where they will ultimately shade the side of the house where the sun hits the strongest. You can also create shady areas that invite everyone to spend more time enjoying the outside. Adding a creative landscaping feature like a trellis or pergola will create more than just an oasis for deep summer days—it will add significant extra value to your whole property.

Here’s hoping your summer is an enjoyable one. If Stockton real estate questions come up, I’ll be here by the phone, waiting to help!

Stockton Listings Share One Thing in Common…Even in Summer

The Stockton listings aren’t dominated by any particular kind of seller—like Stockton listings everywhere, all kinds of homeowners are represented. One attribute they generally have in common is the motivation to make their sale happen quickly. Sometimes that’s because they have settled on a new home purchase and want to avoid months of paying double duty on multiple residences. Sometimes a seller is relocating; sometimes there’s been a death or divorce.  Regardless of the reason for entering their property in the Stockton listings, most sellers are strongly motivated to do what it takes to accomplish a sale.

Even in what has proven to be a generally strong market, a quick sale can be harder to accomplish during the summer months when buyers have other priorities on their minds—like vacations or the impending start of school. It might seem to be a less than optimum environment to enter the Stockton listings, but the fact is, sales DO happen during the vacation months: and they can happen quickly—especially when the seller avoids some common missteps:

Not Perfecting the Homes Appearance.

Sometimes it’s actually fairly easy to make minor remodeling changes that will make a home appear nearly “like new”—in person and in the listings. Another commonly missed step is a one-time extremely detailed deep cleaning (professionally when necessary). A home purchase is an emotional investment as well as a rational one, with the ‘clean as a whistle’ dimension sure to add considerable appeal to prospective buyers.

Not Taking Advantage of the Home Staging Industry

Based on statistics, professional home stagers give homes a look that buyers prefer. Of course, the decision to stage depends on the home sellers’ budget—but some stagers work within all budgets, so a consultation may be worth considering in any case. Consider staging as interior design for the sales process. It’s also true that staged interiors also tend to display better in the listings. 

Being Present During the Buyer Visit

No matter how sensible being there to answer any questions a potential buyer might have, remaining present during a showing is usually a misstep. Experts state that in practice, this tends to discourage substantive movement toward a sale.

Ignoring Offers

You may be on vacation and have trouble getting to a place where documents can be signed—but that’s not a reason why ignoring a low offer becomes a good idea. Yes, there are some offers that are just too low, but the way to respond is to counter the offer. By ignoring any legitimate offer, a Stockton home seller could be walking away from a buyer who has financing and may actually be willing to negotiate for a home (sometimes it’s the one they really have settled on). Sellers who benefit most from this kind of negotiation are likely to have done the work necessary to make their home sellable at top price. If you are looking to add your home to the Stockton listings this summer, contact me ASAP to discuss a marketing strategy that’s right for your property.

Licking Stockton Summer Heat: Whole House Fan Strategy

 

 As summer approaches, Stockton homeowners may also recall the challenge of retaining a reasonably comfortable home environment during the inevitable spells of hot weather. Even with those cool delta breezes, other cooling is a must. Everyone has a different relationship to heat and its evil twin, humidity, which dictates how much attention and budget needs to be dedicated to house cooling.

One old-fashioned solution is out there that many Stocktonites may not have considered.

For most heat-sensitive Stockton residents, house cooling is synonymous with some form of air conditioning—if not central, then some assemblage of window A/C units. Evaporative coolers have economic and environmental advantages, but are really most effective in dry conditions: in other words, when the air gets soupy, their effectiveness fades. These were the “swamp coolers” of yesteryear—and they do have plusses that keep them around today. They allow open windows, so unlike air conditioners, fresh air is part of the house cooling action. They also use relatively little energy.

Swamp coolers used to be more popular in pre-air conditioner days—but there’s another cooling solution that is sometimes overlooked today. It’s the “Whole House Fan” system.

The basic idea is to fight the buildup of heat inside the home by pulling air up and out of the structure, expelling heat and allowing cooler breezes to enter. The house cooling is forced by a powerful fan in the attic combined with appropriately installed ventilation ports. It’s the fan that was the culprit behind the unpopularity of yesteryear’s versions. They were called “attic fans,” and they earned an unfortunate reputation for being extremely noisy. Sounded like a helicopter was taking off on the roof. Not okay.

Today’s whole house fans are the exact opposite: engineering advances make them whisper quiet, yet powerful and effective. Because they are quiet, homeowners don’t mind leaving them on for extended periods, which maximizes their effectiveness in ridding homes of summer heat buildup. It is true that on really hot days—when the outside air, even in shaded areas, can become oppressive—air conditioning is simply more effective. But for Stockton residents who don’t mind an occasional heat spell, the savings in electricity consumption can make whole house fans a modern strategy worth considering.

Summer is also the second half of Stockton’s busiest home shopping season. Kids are out of school, and summer vacations give more families a chance to do some serious house hunting. If you have been considering a real estate move of your own, it’s not too late to join in: give me a call!

Stockon Summer Weather Gives Staging an Outdoor Tilt

As the days grow longer and the thermometer rises, everyone wants to start spending more time outdoors—to make full use of our yards and patios. But what if your Stockon home is going to be on the market this summer? Does it mean you have to stop enjoying yourself, stop entertaining guests, just because you want to keep the place in showable condition?

The answer is, of course, of course not. Using the outdoor spaces of your home means striking a balance between living your life and ensuring everything is in top condition when buyers come calling. It’s actually a staging opportunity, because most of your prospective buyers will be favorably impressed if your outdoor staging makes it easy to picture themselves enjoying our beautiful Stockon summer weather. 

Staging your home’s landscaping thus takes added importance during summertime, beginning with overall curb appeal. Any time of year, potential buyers are often swayed by that first impression: as they approach the house, the impact will be one they’d like their own future visitors to have. Staging an inviting front yard appearance does wonders for your selling prospects.

Make sure your lawn is trimmed and the yard edged. During springtime and fall, a 2”-3” grass length is recommended, but as the hotter summer months approach, longer grass will help shade the soil and keep roots comfy. Minimize brown spots and thin patches by giving the blades an extra half inch.

Staging walkways and driveways means keeping cemented Stockton’s free of volunteer growing things. Having weeds, clover, or anything sprouting between stones or pavement is not only unsightly, it brings to mind the work required for upkeep (a turnoff to prospects). Although chemical herbicides are popular, an eco-conscious (and penny-conscious) alternative is plain old kitchen vinegar.

The most important staging advice for the outside of the house is that it give the impression that a fresh coat of paint won’t be needed for quite a while. Cleaning it can be enough, or if not, new paint may be needed. You can opt for professional painting, but if your home is sided, or if you’ve recently (within the past five years) had your home painted, pay attention to details like windows and other smaller touchups you can easily do yourself.

If staging the back (and possibly front) yards is likely to be a really important part of marketing your Stockon home, give some attention to outdoor furniture. It’s expensive stuff, so if it’s going to really be a key selling point for the property, it might be worth the effort to really make the space shine. If you don’t have any outdoor furniture (and don’t plan to need any in your new house), consider hiring a stager just to handle the exterior spaces.  Less expensive than a full home staging, exterior staging can make a huge difference in the overall appeal of your Stockon home during the outdoor months.

Once you’ve revitalized of your home’s outdoor areas, keeping it in top showing condition need consist of little more than the regular weekly yard work and cleanup, a relaxing prospect for enjoying your property throughout the good weather months. And do give me a call—I’m standing by to take care of the rest!

Stockton Virtual Tours: A Must Do Trick For All STOCKTON Home Sales!

They are  a home seller’s dream come true: a miraculous gateway through which the world’s prospective buyers can tour your property 24 hours a day without your having to sweep the front porch, put flowers in vases, turn on all the lamps or light the fireplace. Here your house is always tidy and gleaming, its best foot forward (if your home had feet; well, you know what I mean!).

Of course, we’re talking about Stockton virtual tours—the 21st century’s most far-reaching and transformative of real estate marketing tools. Whether you’re buying or selling a Stockton home, chances are you’re finding yourself spending more and more online time immersed in virtual tours. If you’re on the buying side: tour away! You’re saving a lot of time and motion as you whittle down the possible in-person visits. If you’re an owner preparing to list, on the other hand, you can contribute greatly to the success of your own Stockton virtual tour. Here’s how:

  • Eliminate Excess. Real estate photographers are experts at knowing how to accentuate the spaciousness of your home by selecting the right angles and lens focal lengths. But you can make the results more impressive yet by ridding every nook and cranny of all clutter—including extraneous furnishings. One wise investment to promote a speedy sale is the renting of storage space to accommodate all that stuff. To showcase the full potential of your home, it’s probably worth the trouble of lugging a few pieces of furniture to temporary storage.
  • Be Ready to Stash. Look around to spot items lying around the house that can be hidden. Find temporary lodgings for items like TV and stereo remotes, books and magazine, etc. Only slightly more troublesome are the kitchen blender and Cuisinart—or all the bathroom counter bric-a-brac. Have a number of smaller cardboard cartons ready to serve as temporary containers—they’ll go out of camera range.
  • Give the Place a Thorough Going-Over. Stockton virtual tours—whether they be motion videos or the more common still photo compilations—can memorialize your home at its sparkling best only when it’s been made dazzling for the occasion. The camera tends to see flaws, and although some can be “fixed” in processing, the best virtual tours result when the property is actually in tip-top shape. Literally camera-ready. To that end, clean the bathrooms, mop the floors, dust, and vacuum – you know the drill! A few places that often get overlooked are baseboards and kitchen cabinet doors.

There’ll be a bonus coming your way afterward, too. In addition to having provided your home’s listing with one of the most appealing Stockton virtual tours in town, after the shoot, your family can enjoy the house at its spectacular camera-ready best (at least for a little while).

The combined efforts of a seasoned professional and motivated homeowner create an unstoppable formula for success. I hope you’ll think of me when it’s time to choose your agent!

 

Stockton Homeowners Tempted by “Sellers Market”

“Circumlocution” ­—the hefty word for “beating around the bush”­­—describes what the national real estate news feeds have been practicing for a while when it comes to the state of the marketplace. Until recently, most analysts seemed reluctant to call this spring’s U.S. lineup a “sellers market”—perhaps because the phrase might discourage would-be buyers. That began to change last month.

As the week came to a close, Stockton homeowners who’ve been putting off their own decisions about whether to list their properties could find ample reasons for acting. Not only was that “sellers market” label showing up more often, but a host of supporting reasons had appeared in month-end reports:

  • Compared with the last quarter of 2020, the percentage of households who believe the economy is improving grew to 70%­­—an 11% rise!
  • More than that­­­­—­69%­­—think their own financial situation will improve in the next six months.
  • Perhaps as a reflection of that growing optimism, 68% of buyers report that they believe it is now “a good time to buy a home.” Mostly due to low mortgage rates.

If Stockton homeowners were encouraged to believe that Stockton buyers share that opinion, they’d be in step with the rest of the nation: 78% of homeowners think now is a good time to sell­­. That’s a conclusion that’s easy to understand since U.S. home prices have grown a cumulative 52% since 2011. Yet even with such encouraging evidence, the number of listed properties continues to be well below demand. What might otherwise be a boo­­ming market continues to improve—but gradually. 

The NAR’s Chief Economist sounded almost wistful about the supply bottleneck. “Ultimately,” he was quoted as saying, “supply conditions would improve measurably…if homeowners finally decide that this spring is the time to list their homes for sale.”

 With buyer optimism growing and available properties still in short supply, conditions are  the textbook definition of a “Sellers Market”. Whether buyer sentiment will continue to persist as mortgage interest rates rise is an open question—and an additional reason why owners might choose this spring to put their homes on the market.

If you are thinking that the time could be right to buy or sell, I hope you will give me a call. We can get down to specifics on how to achieve your goals in today’s Stockton market.