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.

6 Factors Shape Spring Selling Season in Stockton

Last Saturday calendars mark the first day of spring in Stockton: the vernal equinox. The onset of astronomical spring doesn’t quite coincide with Stockton’s real estate spring selling season, which most agree should be considered to start 12 days later, at the start of April.

Just about everything you need to know about why we expect Stockton’s spring selling season to be as active (some say “frantic”) as ever can be gleaned by a glance at the calendar. After the long winter, it explains why so many home buyers seem to come out of the woodwork. Here are six of the calendar-based factors that help make spring the peak selling season:

  1. Families with children are captives of the school year calendar. They want to get their sale or purchase out of the way so that moving won’t disrupt next semester’s activities.
  2. Nicer weather moves people to get out to investigate. That may sound like a trivial reason, but when you add in the unarguable appeal of springtime gardens, the atmospherics alone would be enough to quicken sales.
  3. Tax refund checks are headed for 83% of filers. With average amounts in the thousands of dollars, it’s no wonder they give buyers a feeling of well-being. This year, 2018 federal tax reductions have also improved many a paycheck’s bottom line.
  4. Springtime provides a natural rebound from the typical Stockton winter real estate doldrums.
  5. Longer daylight hours provide more time for showings—and in real estate parlance, “brighter” is synonymous with “more appealing.”
  6. This year especially, there’s a ‘tick-tock’ factor: economy-minded home buyers are incented to lock in Stockton properties before prices and interest rates rise.

There are always reasonable arguments for Stockton buyers and sellers to choose some other season, but over the long haul, the single point that’s hardest to dispute is in the numbers. Nearly 40% of U.S. home sales occur between April and July.

If you’ve been thinking that springtime might be the right time to create your own Stockton selling season, it’s not too late to make it happen! Give me a call to discuss how quickly we can turn that idea into action.

Homes For Sale Needn’t Generate Stress Overload

You can bet that just about every one of the Stockton homes currently for sale is owned by someone whose wish is for a rapid sale to a buyer who will be delighted that their offer was accepted. For this happy tableau to play out in reality, it’s only necessary that the Stockton home for sale has been described fully and accurately, that the prospective buyer has thoughtfully assessed that information, and that the sale price is satisfactory to both parties.

In reality, instantaneous success is rarely expected by sophisticated buyers or sellers. Most successful closings are usually the product of a certain amount of give-and-take—something knowledgeable adults naturally expect for a transaction with such momentous consequences in so many areas of both parties’ futures. Since that’s the case, it’s no wonder that buying a home can be such a stressful experience. How to deal with that was touched upon in an article offered by Zillow last week.

The author first noted a caveat for individuals with specific clinical concerns (who are “struggling or need help”): contact a licensed mental health professional. But for the rest of the home buying and selling populace, there was thoughtful advice offered by a family mental health counselor. Paraphrasing some of the main ideas for depressurizing the homebuying experience:

·       Sellers and buyers should know their “non-negotiables” as clearly as possible—while keeping their other requirements as “general” (flexible) as possible.

·       Buyers should be both “willing to attach emotionally” to a new place to live—yet “hold it loosely enough that it won’t be devastating” in case it can’t be secured.

·       Overall, all parties will benefit by being aware that today’s environment is likely to produce more stress and anxiety than usual—which makes it a  good time to give yourself a break. “Extend kindness to yourself” is the author’s phrase—along with the advice that, in practice, this can be more challenging than it sounds.

To that point, it’s worth adding that extending kindness to the other guy has no downside. It’s one of my deliverables to eliminate as much stress as possible from beginning to end in the homebuying and selling process. Call!

Help Rating Today’s Tech Heavy Household Components

 If you have anything to do with keeping the constituent parts of your Stockton household in good running order, you’re probably familiar with Consumer Reports magazine and its website. Year in and year out, their technicians run thousands of household products through their testing laboratories, subjecting them to merciless stresses designed to simulate the effects of years of wear and tear.

For the same reason that the high school classes that used to be called “Home Ec” are now called something like “Family and Consumer Sciences,” given the makeup of today’s tech-heavy household components, real-world performance is no longer easy to estimate by looks or reputation alone.

CR’s solution is their rating lists which compare performance and value for leading models across scads of categories. Sometimes the most expensive models of everything from door locks to refrigerators are not the best performers—while some of the cheapest hold up surprisingly well.

Your own experiences may not jibe precisely in all cases, but for busy Stockton domestic decision-makers who need to replace failing or underperforming household items—on a budget and in a hurry—the CR ratings and background information are close to indispensable.

Plus: they’re also fun to read! That was why, when subscribers received a CR email last week with the subject, “The WORST home products,” it’s highly probable that most of the consumer recipients who run Stockton households would have found it irresistible reading. Whatever else you think about their tests, when they flop, it’s human nature to find out why (and how badly).

As a public service, here are some of the good ones. I can’t verify the findings, so the actual brand names aren’t included—you’d have to go to CR for those—but here are some of the juiciest “not-so-hot” findings:

·       For a leading-brand refrigerator that costs more than $10,000, its internal temperature doesn’t always match the thermostat setting—and it’s more likely to break within the first few years than are some considerably less costly brands.

·       One range rates “Poor” for low-temperature simmering and melting, and its cookies brown unevenly. Despite a $3,900 list price, ranges costing $2,000 less performed better in both departments.

·       A leading washing machine brand that sometimes uses twice as much water as others also failed to get red wine, blood, and carbon stains out of clothing on its ‘normal’ cycle setting.

·       More and more common in today’s Stockton households, one best-selling air purifier model self-rated for 160 sq ft rooms wouldn’t handle a room half that size for smoke and dust removal—“at both high and low speeds.”   

Reading about the worst performers is important when you need to replace an item—as is identifying the best. Keeping your Stockton household in top running order makes listing and selling it ever so much easier than playing last-minute catch-up.

I hope you’ll give me an early call when the time to sell approaches!

Spring Home Buying Season Favors Decisive Stockton Buyers

If last week’s Realtor® Magazine commentary is accurate, the timing for Stockton’s peak homebuying season looks as if it is apt to return to traditional seasonal patterns—unlike what happened in 2020. If the economists at the National Association of Realtors are reading the tea leaves correctly, last year’s scrambled real estate sales activity should give way to something more closely resembling the regular pattern. That would reflect the current rise in optimism that recovery from the pandemic is on the way—reversing the disruptions that first crippled spring sales, then brought unusually brisk activity in the summer and fall.
If Stockton’s traditional peak homebuying activity does follow the spring-to-summer pattern, Realtor’s advice to real estate professionals would be timely: they “should prepare their house hunters” for shallow inventories and rapidly rising home prices.  
It’s a warning that contrasts with consumer expectations reported by the National Association of Home Builders. In their own commentary released at the same time last week, the NAHB reported that future buyers “perceive” that they are now able to afford half or more of the homes available in their areas— a significant rise in optimism. The report found that buyer perceptions about the availability of homes are also on the rise, with 37% now expecting that their search for a home will “get easier” in the months ahead. A year earlier, far fewer held that view.
Stockton readers might well wonder, which is it? Will house-hunters in Stockton’s dawning spring homebuying season have an easier time finding the home they want at an affordable price? Or is Realtor Magazine’s headline—“Spring Buyers Must Be Ready to Act Quickly”—a more accurate read on what they should expect to find?
It’s true that Realtor’s assessment of listing price increases (in January, “up 15.4% over a year earlier”) and hefty inventory drops (in the 50 largest metro areas) are national rather than local statistics. Still, this season’s prospective Stockton buyers can’t go wrong if they expect and prepare for a competitive market rather than one that’s “easier” than before.
Being ready to act quickly is easy enough—it can be as simple as organizing personal financial records and applying for a mortgage lender’s pre-approval letter. Another key preparatory move: have an experienced Stockton Realtor on your team from the get-go. In other words, call me!

 

  

 

  

Shelve the Crystal Ball for 2021 Stockton Housing Outlook

It does seem to be time for an in depth forecast about Stockton’s housing outlook for 2021. The prediction game is going strong everywhere else this week, with print and online journalists and TV talking heads interviewing experts and each other about what to expect in the coming year. Some make noteworthy predictions—but more seem to be doing their best to sound authoritative while remaining vague enough to avoid provably wrong calls.

I have to sympathize. Last year, after delving into the Stockton housing outlook to come up with predictions, the one I put at the top of my list was a forecast that mortgage interest rates would soon be dropping.  Due to the Covid pandemic that was safe bet. This caused an uptick in sales and a decline in inventory.

What then happened in 2020 explains why financial prospectuses tend to footnote projections with sentences like “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Rates did rise; but then sank again. So this year, it’s probably a better idea to shelve the crystal ball in favor of laying out some of the factors we do and don’t know—factors that should influence the direction of Stockton housing trends for the coming year.

First, what we do know for sure. Since Baby Boomers make up the largest demographic in the country…

Uh-oh! No they don’t. The Census Bureau now says that the cohort of 23-year-old Americans has just become the largest in the country. Followed by 24- and 22-year olds, respectively. Probably why the chief economist at the NAR® projects that this generation will “drive two-thirds of household formations over the next five years.” He says 2021 will become the point at which the millennial generation’s presence in the housing market will be truly felt for the first time. So what we do know is that younger buyers have begun to join the ranks of homeowners in substantial numbers. That’s different; it has the look of a major trend.

And mortgage rates will rise (because they have to, right?) Again, this one only seems to be a reliable projection. At this point, a 30-year mortgage is actually lower than it was a year ago. It is thought that foreign influences (uncertainty in Europe; economic weakness in the Far East) are what have held down U.S. housing financing rates. If that’s true—and since no one can say with any certainty what to expect from events overseas—mortgage rates and their influence on Stockton housing activity should more accurately be placed in the don’t know column.

So will Stockton housing prices and sales activity rise in the coming year? We do know that the public opinion polling data supports that likelihood. Consumer confidence is building, possibly because of a brightening employment picture (not to mention the  record-breaking Santa Claus rally and other strong economic news) and the COvid vaccine roll out. In fact, real estate mega site Trulia reports that their samples tell them “consumers expect 2021 to be better, especially for selling a home.”

Economists agree. Fortune.com says that economists are “nearly unanimous in predicting that home values would continue to rise” and that “surveys of homeowner sentiment suggest that more of them will look to sell their homes” in the coming year. If you are leaning in that direction yourself, there’s one factor we know for sure: I’ll be standing by in 2021, ready to put all of my resources and experience to work for your Stockton  home sale!

When a Kitchen Shines, Real Estate Agents Beam

Keeping control of your kitchen is one of the most basic actions you can take to help your real estate agent sell your home. The execution can be simple when it’s approached systematically. 

After the holiday Kitchen control can seem an all but unmanageable task. Days are shorter; kids or pets may be cooped up inside; and everyone tracks winter through the kitchen all day long.  To help you keep your kitchen looking great (and your Stockton real estate agent beaming), some simple preparation is needed. That, plus sticking to a simple routine, will turn the impossible into a ‘done deal.’

·         Put appliances and gadgets away as soon as you use them. According to Realtor.com, removing the least frequently used items from kitchen counters is a proven way to make a home more inviting. Include items like can openers and coffee pots.  Flowers and a few cookbooks, though, are welcome to stay.

·         Spot-check nightly: More times than not, you will find items you missed putting away or cleaning during the busy part of your day. It’s easy to miss crumbs on the counter or dirt on the floor when you are trying to get out of the door for work or a meeting.

·         Consider eating pre-prepared meals (or ordering delivery) during periods when you know you will be actively showing the house (like the first two weeks on the market!). This will help with kitchen cleanliness, leave less work for you, and have the significant side effect of making the selling process less crazy-making. Cost a bit extra? Uncle Sam won’t think so, but for yourself, consider it a worthwhile business expense.

Every Stockton real estate agent will agree that kitchens are a key selling point these days, so the effort you put into kitchen control is one of the top ways you have of  bringing in top dollar for your Stockton home.  Another way — one I’m happy to offer — is to call me! I am here to help you make the most of every step of the selling process.

 

 

 

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  2020. 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. 2020 has been another banner year for Bright Side Real Estate and we are looking forward to 2021.
In 2020, the market improved with values up 12% in most areas of Stockton. Over 3650 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!

What would Santa Do? Here’s How he Chooses His Stockton Buyer’s Agent

“Hello there! I noticed you admiring this stunning open house. How would you like to sign with me as your Stockton buyer’s agent, and find your dream home?”

The appropriate answer for this question depends on what leads up to it—first off, whether you have already decided to enlist the services of a Stockton buyer’s agent this holiday season. It’s a good decision, but even if you have—and this agent seems well-mannered and likeable— at this point, the answer real estate professionals would recommend is, “Give me your card—I’ll get back to you.”

The reason not to jump at the first offer is the same as why you wouldn’t agree to buy the first house you visited without first looking around the neighborhood. So why do so many people sign up with the very first agent who says hello? It probably comes from some simply being unfamiliar with buyer’s agents and their industry.

You want to team with a buyer’s agent who is educated, quick-thinking, experienced, and most of all, thoroughly familiar with the current real estate offerings in Stockton. Before teaming up with anyone, there are a few questions to be answered:

Is this agent licensed?

The agent’s card should show a valid real estate license number (if not, in the immortal words of a certain Cuban bandleader, they’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!). You can verify that the licensee is currently active on the state website, or you can go to the ARELLO (national database) to confirm the information. Having a real estate license is the most basic requirement you require for legal as well as practical reasons.

Does signing with this agent obligate you to use other recommended services?

Sometimes a buyer’s agent works in tandem with other associated home-buying service providers (like home inspectors or mortgage brokers). There’s nothing wrong with recommending professionals they know to be trustworthy—but using them should never be a requirement. You want to keep your options open for identifying good prices and services, so recommendations need to be that…and only that.

Does the agent have a good recent track record in Stockton?

It’s not enough just to ask the agent about his or her track record, although you certainly should have that discussion. Ask if you can speak to a recent client to get an appraisal of their experience. That’s key, because having a full staff and plush offices may be attractive, but they’re just window dressing. What you are after is the service a buyer’s agent actually delivers. And don’t be reluctant to check the web for the agent’s online reputation, although that’s less reliable. You want to get a picture of the full scope of this person’s skills and credentials. If the agent doesn’t seem to measure up, move on to another candidate.

Signing with the first Stockton buyer’s agent that you meet, like choosing the first name that turns up in an online search, is a first step that’s likely to be in the wrong direction. Doing a little extra research to find the right candidate will pay off in time and effort saved later on- that’s how Santa does it!

The Holiday Advantage for Selling Your Home in Stockton!!!

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.