For Stockton Homeowners, Autumn Home Maintenance Ideas Autumn Home Maintenance Ideas Prevent Costly Situations It’s not Spring Cleaning—What is Autumn Maintenance?

Sure, spring cleaning is one thing. Stockton homeowners find it easy to tackle major housekeeping chores they avoided during the winter weather months. When the sun is out and spring is in the air, somehow it’s just more inviting to freshen up the household.

Autumn home maintenance chores may not beckon in the same way, but for conscientious Stockton homeowners who take the time to attend to them, the rewards are just as handsome. The idea is to prevent some expensive fixes.

It goes without saying that clearing rain gutters and drainage systems are high on the list—but that’s a job for later on when leaf fall is the issue. Here are four autumn home maintenance recommendations as Stockton’s autumn begins:

Flush the water heater. This is one job many conscientious Stockton homeowners overlook, but it’s a fact that corrosion-causing sediment shortens a water heater’s service life. Additional reward: that sediment reduces efficiency, so clearing it out will cut power bills all winter long.

Check for water leaks. This one is easy. Take a reading on the water meter, then turn off all appliances that use water (and don’t flush for a couple of hours). If the meter has changed, scout for the leak—leaky hoses are prime suspects. If you come up empty, a plumber’s expertise is probably indicated—better now than in the dead of winter.

Empty the drip pan. Most refrigerators have a drip pan down behind the kick panel. Be careful when you pull it out—it’s probably full of water, and possibly mold. If mold has clogged the drain line that leads down to the pan, shaping a metal coat hanger to clear it is standard practice.

Soak the clothes dryer’s lint screen. If gathering the lint off the dryer screen no longer clears it completely, you can remove the greasy film that develops by soaking it in a dishwasher soap-hot water bath, then gently brushing and rinsing.

An associated but more obscure tip: if clothes are still wet after ending the auto dry cycle, it could be caused by dryer sheet residue that builds up on its moisture sensor bars. Your dryer’s user manual will show where the metal sensors are located—on older models, they are usually found on the back wall of the drum; on newer models, on the inside front near the lint screen. After unplugging the machine, the white buildup can be cleared with some fine grit sandpaper, followed by polishing with a clean rag.

Autumn or spring, I’m standing by to consult on all Stockton real estate matters. I hope you will give me a call anytime!

What 3 Questions Help You Size Up a New Neighborhood? 3 Questions to Get New Neighbors Talking 3 Relevant Questions Assist Neighborhood Choice

When your next home is going to be in an unfamiliar town—whether in Stockton or somewhere else— learning as much as you can about your choice of neighborhoods is a practical starting point. It won’t be long before you’ll find yourself immersed in finding the perfect house—but it can’t be perfect if winds up being in a neighborhood that’s a poor fit for your family.

You can get a general idea of the likeliest areas by doing some online tire-kicking. In addition to querying the obvious places like Facebook and Google, sites like City-Data and NextDoor can supplement your initial research. After you’ve gathered some general impressions from those sources, you’ll be able to make the most for your first on-site visits. Once showings begin, you’ll also be better prepared to mine a rich resource that house hunters sometimes overlook: the neighbors!

Striking up casual conversations in local supermarket checkout lines or at coffee shop counters are some of the best ways to turn up valuable local lore—and to give you a realistic feel for the community. Three local topics most of your neighbors-to-be will enjoy chatting about are:

  1. Schools: which ones do parents prefer—and why?
  2. Security: Is there a Neighborhood Watch? Is crime much of a local issue?
  3. Events: What events and activities are drawing the biggest crowds lately?

Those questions aren’t just relevant quality-of-life indicators—they are also conversation openers to other topics that will help fill out your impressions. Talk to a half dozen people, and you’ll start to get a feel for how welcoming the area is likely to be and how comfortable you’ll be living there. If you like what you’re hearing, it’s also a good sign that others would have the same take-away—in turn, a good sign for property values in the future.

When I’m your Stockton agent, I’ll be delighted to get you started with a wide array of local information—not to mention the latest scoop on Stockton neighborhood trends. Call me for more!

Top 4 Post-Labor Day House Hunting Changes For Some Stockton House Hunters, Labor Day Means “Go!” For Some Stockton House Hunters, Autumn = Opportunity!!!

A while back, Forbes noted what they called “The Four Ways the Real Estate Market Changes” after Labor Day. The article recognized a truism that holds for most parts of California—namely, that the period between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is what most of us think of as “fall.” It went on to describe four ways the change of seasons alters the house hunting landscape.

Although I may not agree entirely with their broad brush proposition that a great number of house hunters throw in the towel after Labor Day, the four market changes described are often true enough.

  1. More of a buyer’s market. Buyers who have held off through the prime selling seasons are more apt to find sellers who are more open to negotiation.
  2. Action increases for vacation homes. This is prime time for Stockton home shoppers whose eyes are on vacation homes. By purchasing in the fall, “you can have it bought and furnished by spring.”
  3. Price dips. House hunters find that asking prices, like the autumn leaves, fall. Forbes may have simply been unable to resist the simile, but in many cases, it’s true!
  4. Open-ended house hunting. Time pressures (like having to be moved in by the first day of school) will have vanished by Labor Day, so many Stockton house hunters tend to adopt a more leisurely house hunting attitude. There may also be something about crisp autumn days (and they’ll be here soon enough) that helps contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere—at least until the Holidays loom!

Every Stockton house hunter has specific individual goals and expectations—and of course, the same is true for sellers, as well. But it does seem to be true that post-Labor Day Stockton listings tend to include an uptick in price reductions—as well as some withdrawals that, as Forbes might have it, “will sprout anew” come springtime.

If your busy summer included activities and travel that kept you fully occupied, now may be an opportune time to inaugurate your own Stockton  house hunting venture. If so, do give me a call!

The “My Stockton House Will Sell Itself” Conundrum “My Stockton House Will Sell Itself” Can be a Problem The “My Stockton House Will Sell Itself” Contradiction

You might think that when your house is in terrific shape, that’s all you need to guarantee a quick, successful sale. Just because it is located in a desirable Stockton neighborhood on a great street populated with conscientious neighbors—and just because it has most of the features and attributes that today’s buyers seem to want—that it’s a cinch to draw a raft of top-of-market bids from a clamoring flock of eager prospects.

It often turns out that the result was not inevitable. The reason is that “My Stockton house will sell itself” thinking was allowed to take over.

Now it is definitely true that all of the terrific qualities listed above should guarantee a short and successful offering. The problem arises when a homeowner logically concludes that, since their Stockton house will sell itself, all they have to do is plant a sign in the yard and wait for the sale to be finalized.

That can be a costly misstep if the “For Sale” sign they decide to plant is one that includes the fateful words, “by Owner.” The apparent logic is that, if the house will sell itself, what’s the advantage to hiring a professional Stockton agent to do the selling?

The needs are many, but I think the one that’s least debatable is this: when prospective buyers see that a homeowner is selling their house on their own, they correctly assume that the seller is hoping not to have to pay a commission. True or not, they also assume that the owner will have borne minimal expense—and that means that the owner can accept a lower offer. In other words, exactly the opposite of what the For Sale by Owner gambit was meant to achieve!

There are many other reasons why the vast majority of sellers do eventually rely on a professional Stockton agent. For one, there’s the fact that the aura of professionalism all by itself conveys added value. For another, buyers and their agents know that negotiations will be professionally conducted. To be accepted, any offer will obviously need to be respectfully assembled (in other words, lowball offers are less likely to succeed).

When you add in the relief from the raft of technical hassles that goes with representation by your own Stockton real estate professional, it’s a wonder that any of those “by Owner” signs ever show up. It’s probably because the self-contradiction in the “My house will sell itself” idea takes a while to evidence itself.

The irony is that it’s exactly those Stockton homes with terrific attributes that deserve to attract the highest offers. That’s the ultimate benefit of the professional service I offer. Call me!

What’s the Simplest Way to Prep Your Stockton House? Prepping Your Stockton House: It’s a Welcome Activity To Prep Your Stockton House, Think “Welcome!”

Prepping your Stockton house for sale can be a challenge or a pleasure—for the most part, that’s determined by how much attention you’ve been able to give the place in the past few years. Either way, the first action item is to make a thorough reconnaissance of the property. The punch list of maintenance initiatives that results will determine how much time and effort will be necessary.

If your levelheaded curb appeal assessment rates a “C” or less, it’s fairly certain to be reflected in the interest you can expect from prospective buyers—not to mention the offers you’ll probably receive. A landscape renovation, exterior paint job, or roofing overhaul might ultimately be less expensive than the loss of buyer enthusiasm if major problems are disregarded.

Prepping the household interior calls for the same degree of hard-headed examination and decision-making. Although a major remodeling project seldom returns its cost, the three basic rules of house-prepping are invariably worth their cost in both dollars and effort:

  • Deep clean every nook and cranny
  • Declutter and clear space
  • Boost light levels wherever possible

After the lion’s share of prepping activities have been accomplished, what’s left to do? A valuable final step is uncomplicated. It’s as simple as the word “welcome.” That’s evidenced by one of the most frequently found pieces of advice about prepping a home. It’s also the simplest one: “replace the welcome mat.”

That’s frequently joined by a more expensive cousin, “replacing the front door”—as well as “renewing the front door hardware” and “replacing the address numerals.” All of these rely on the value of greeting visitors with a clean and welcoming first impression. Like a fine hotel’s freshly polished brass railing, it signals that every effort has been taken to cater to you, the visitor. It’s a sign of respect. And in fact, putting that final bit of effort into making those details as pleasing as possible subtly paves the way for a positive reception for the experience that follows.

I can help you when it comes to all phases of prepping your Stockton house for sale. There’s no obligation (there never is)—so don’t be shy about calling me whenever a professional’s opinion will be useful!

 

6 Clever Tips Lighten Stockton Home Sales Prep Stockton Home Sales Prep Starts with Grunge Eliminators Clever Deep-Cleaning Tips Speed Stockton Home Sales Prep

If you’ve been living in your Stockton home for more than a few years, you know that there are some corners that don’t get regular cleaning attention because they’re (let’s be honest) too grungy to deal with. They’re beyond the scope of what anybody wants to face as a regular housekeeping chore.

If you’re beginning to consider listing your Stockton place, you know you’ll have to get around to dealing with some long passed-over details. But that’s not something to look forward to. In fact, putting these messy details off is a leading cause of SREP—Serial Real Estate Procrastination!

Into the breach comes Houselogic. As part of their “Most Annoying Household Problems Solved” series, the NAR’s website Houselogic really outdid themselves this time. Here are six new tips I’d never seen before. A few are so clever they made me smile:

  1. Stove Burners. The fused layers of deeply incinerated debris (aka “that gunky mess”) encrusting the burners won’t come off by normal dish detergent soaking. Houselogic’s no-scrubbing solution: soak them one-by-one in a plastic bag containing ¼ cup of ammonia. Overnight, job done!
  2. Carpet Stains. For splotches set into the carpet, squirt one part vinegar to three parts water on the stain, lay a cotton cloth on top, then set your iron to the hottest steam setting and run it over the cloth for 10 seconds. If the stain isn’t dyed in, it will transfer up onto the cloth.
  3. Range Hood Vent Filters. Boil each in a large pan, slowly adding ½ cup of baking soda. It should take about 5 minutes on each half (they’re too big to do in one submersion). Be cautious about dumping the water, though: you don’t want the grease to clog your drain.
  4. Tub Grunge. This is an awkward (sometimes, backbreaking) job that’s solved with a self-described “genius idea.” Just attach a scrubbing tool to your hand drill. You can make one yourself using a kitchen scrubby—or buy any commercial drill attachment that guarantees it won’t scratch surfaces.
  5. Metal Floor Grates. Run aluminum or steel grates through the dishwasher’s water-only cycle.
  6. Clogged Showerheads. (This one sounded vaguely familiar). Tie or tape a baggie of vinegar over the showerhead. Leave it overnight, being sure the little holes are all submerged.

“Deep cleaning” is on every Stockton home sales preparation punch list—an important part of prepping your house to get a top-of-the-market reception. For a wide-ranging home sales strategy chat, give me a call anytime!

 

Profit-Killers to Avoid for Your Stockton Investment Properties Beware Profit-Killers for Stockton Investment Properties Stockton Investment Properties’ Not-So-Obvious Cash Drains

Your Stockton investment properties are fulfilling all the potential you hoped they would. They do more than just pay for themselves with the cash that flows in with the tenants’ monthly rent checks—they also build equity with each mortgage payment.

The wisdom of those investments is reinforced every time you check your personal balance sheet. The growing contribution to ‘Real Property’ line on the asset side makes a pleasing counter to the shrinking figure in the liabilities column. When it comes to your Stockton investment properties, the bottom line is, literally, the bottom line.

All well and good, provided that the happy state of affairs continues. But if there is one thing that seasoned investors agree on, it’s that successful rental property owners keep an eye on their investment properties. As Forbes Real Estate Council member Nathan Miller writes recently in his essay for investment property owners, great management means staying vigilant regarding the factors that don’t have a clear dollar amount when reckoning the bottom line. He enumerates some “cash flow killers” to avoid:

  • Wrong Insurance. Particularly if you are making the transition from residential property to rental, a different type of insurance provides the protection you need.
  • Tenant Quality. Bad tenants are inevitably expensive—while screening packages aren’t! Stockton regulations cover what background inquiries might require applicants’ permission.
  • Management. If you rely on professional property management, its quality will find its way to the bottom line. Our best Stockton property managers are easy to spot via some deep dives into their online reputations—which includes tenants’ opinions.
  • Misc. Successful Stockton investment property owners also stay mindful of issues like “sneaky” HOA fees (those are knowable in advance) and deferred maintenance.

This season’s crop of listings include properties that could make outstanding Stockton investments. Just give me a call if you’d like to see them for yourself!

Wealth Management Gets Stockton Home Buyers’ Attention Wealth Management Ideas for Home Buyers in Stockton Stockton Home Buyers Use Top Wealth Management Ideas

No matter what their current financial profile, home buyers in Stockton share knowledge that the value of the property they are acquiring will become a significant entry whenever their family’s net worth is reckoned.

For those whose total in that category weighs in at $5 million or more: great! You’re considered “ultra-wealthy” according to the Spectrum Group, a wealth management research organization that defines “ultra high net worth” as households with at least that figure.

On the other hand, for home buyers in Stockton who are laser-focused on a more immediate financial task at hand (finding, qualifying for and buying the perfect Stockton home), some relevant research suggests that their ultra-wealthy fellow home buyers might be able to share some attitudes that aren’t often explored— namely, that when it comes to a family’s wealth, a goodly share of attention needs to be spent on more than just accumulating it.

According to this month’s article in CNBC.com, building enduring wealth “…can be a challenge even for super wealthy families, many of whom have had their financial success created by one generation and do not want to see it lost by their successors.” Put another way, the wealthiest tend to share a belief that just reaching the ranks of the top 1% percent isn’t enough. They say it’s vital to know how to think about wealth; how to spend it, keep it, and pass it on.

Regular, non-ultra-wealthy Stockton families may not have to worry about some of these ideas (for instance, most of us aren’t tempted to define our identities solely by the heft of our bank accounts)—but a couple of notions can be useful when we are in the process of buying a house:

Put the children to work: involve your children in the process and help them understand the considerations behind a big purchase like buying your Stockton home.

Agree on a family strategy: even if this will be the first Stockton home to be owned by the family, discuss its place in the long-term strategy. Is it intended to serve as a starter home, a transitional home, or a permanent home base?

Give BackOnce the move into a new neighborhood is accomplished, establishing a comfortable place in the community can be cemented by identifying Stockton charitable programs that strike a responsive chord. The ultra-wealthy call this creating an “abundance mentality”—it’s the same truism that tells us that donors benefit as least as much as recipients.

Buying a home is one of the transformative passages in life. Whatever your current financial profile, if you’re looking to buy or sell here in Stockton this summer, I’m here to help with your real estate needs.  Call me anytime!

 

Stockton Borrowers Shun Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs) Stockton Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs) in the Doldrums Stockton Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs) Lose Luster

If they follow the same path home loan applicants across the nation are choosing, most Stockton mortgage applicants will continue passing up adjustable-rate offerings. As last week’s Real Estate News analysis points out, there are multiple reasons for that phenomenon.

It’s been a decade since the financial meltdown had everyone rethinking the nation’s (and their own) disposition toward the way mortgage products were viewed. The headline may have been worth a chuckle (“ARMs Don’t Have Legs”) but the history that produced it was anything but hilarious—especially for Stockton adjustable-rate mortgage borrowers who fared poorly in the financial meltdown.

Leading up to the crisis, the Mortgage Bankers Association traced a steady gain in popularity for the adjustables. From 1998-2008, the average share of adjustable-rate loans was 20%. With one in five home loan borrowers choosing the mortgages with their featured low initial interest rates, new home buyers and refinance applicants could pencil out budgets that were suddenly workable for properties they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford—workable, that is, until the “adjustable” part came due. Many buyers made the assumption that, even if their own future fortunes didn’t grow at a pace that would allow higher monthly payments, they could always “cash out” on their investment, since real estate values were sure to grow as they had for years.

The double whammy of the mortgage meltdown and its triggering of the real estate slide put thousands of adjustable-rate mortgage holders in an impossible position, resulting in too many foreclosures—which in turn triggered a feedback-loop of even lower real estate valuations that made refinancing all but impossible.

When the dust cleared, mortgage industry regulators and the lenders they governed decided to make qualifying for adjustable home loans much harder—but they weren’t alone. Borrowers were now widely in agreement. By the end of 2008, no longer were one in five borrowers signing up for the variable interest mortgage offerings. Now it was more like 1%.

Flash forward to today, and, surprisingly, the adjustable-rate loan market is still being widely shunned. Borrowers are being offered fixed rate mortgage rates that are, as Real Estate News puts it, “stuck near all-time lows.” That being the case, most borrowers seem to be demonstrating that accepting the risk of an adjustable remains unappealing—all the more so as the Federal Reserve continues nudging rates upward. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some scenarios that legitimately justify an adjustable—just that they are relatively scarce.

The fact that even now, in mid-summer 2019, Stockton mortgage rates remain near the lower end of historical averages is good news for both buyers and sellers. In other words, it remains a great market—and ample reason to give me a call!

Sell Your Stockton House for What it’s Worth Sell Your Stockton House for More Than It’s Worth? Selling Your Stockton House for More Than It’s Worth: Not!

In my capacity as Stockton real estate information-gatherer, I really couldn’t pass up last week’s, “How to Sell Your House for More than It’s Worth.” 

I know; I know: that’s the kind of web clickbait we’ve all learned to avoid—like popups announcing “New Law Cuts Stockton Residents’ Tax Bill in Half!” or “Secret Diet Miracle Food Celebrities Won’t Tell You About.” By now we’ve learned that the “new law” will turn out to be an obscure exception that applies only to some very small group and the “secret miracle diet food” is water. But despite all that, the “Sell Your House” essay turned out to be thought-provoking—although not in the way the authors probably intended.

First, about the article itself: its how-to guidance was organized into subtitles like “Quick Fix” and “Face lift.” The “sell your house for more than its worth” premise hinged on surface maintenance coverups. A final “Important Tip” turned out to be a whole bundle of tips—all of which boiled down to the caution, “selling a house is not easy.” I would add, especially if you ask for more than your house is worth.

But the authors were onto something—which is why their title works to attract readers. It is a fact that most otherwise sensible Stockton homeowners would be all ears if only it was possible to sell their Stockton house for more than it’s worth. Why not? And on first blush, it might actually seem possible—probably because of the free-floating nature of residential real estate price-setting. But there are two ironclad reasons why that’s an illusion.

First, in a free market like Stockton’s, a house is worth what it sells for. When someone actually pays X dollars, the house is worth X dollars. That may seem like a word game—but it is in fact definitory.

More persuasively, just about every one of today’s Stockton home buyers will make their offer contingent on an inspection—and our Stockton home inspectors are extremely talented when it comes to uncovering any of the article’s “quick fixes” and “facelifts.” Those were at the core of the “more than its worth” come-on.

Long story short: it’s more astute to plan on selling your house for what it’s worth. Those who try to sell for more than that will probably find themselves drumming their fingers, waiting for a buyer who agrees.

Right-pricing means getting an analysis of the latest Stockton market returns for homes similar to yours. Give me a call for an up-to-the-moment property analysis!