Stockton Landlords Profit through Considerate Rent Increases

Inflation has been barely noticeable for quite a while, but as Stockton shoppers have begun to notice how it’s been creeping up lately. For Stockton landlords, that triggers a subject that directly impacts the profitability of their real estate investment.
Managing rent increases properly—and communicating them in a manner calculated to preserve your tenants’ goodwill—is a subject estate author Kevin Ortner writes about in Realtor Magazine. A few of his insights:
• Raise rents on a regular schedule—usually, this will come at each lease renewal period (or when the agreement specifies)—but for month-to-month situations, once a year is recommended. Small increments on an annual basis are more predictable (and agreeable) than “catch up” raises scheduled less frequently.
• Be competitive. The “sweet spot” you are looking for is the best price you can get for your rental—which is also actually “how much tenants are willing to pay.” That’s subject to compliance with California and local laws in accordance with the terms of your lease. Research by starting with a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual calculation of Shelter Cost Changes—most recently, 3.4% at the end of August. The national trends are good to know but are not as significant as the more important data: the rates similar Stockton rentals are currently advertising.
• Give extra notice. You’re required to abide by the law and your lease, but when you give tenants more time, it makes any raise less burdensome. If the raise is competitive, tenants will have ample time to shop around and see that it’s reasonable.
• Work to keep good tenants happy. The most successful landlords frequently take their best tenants’ situations into consideration. If you decide to cut them some slack as a way of cultivating the relationship, you might even do what Ortner suggests: “show them what the rent increase was going to be”—but with that number crossed out and a smaller one in its place. You should also have determined the operating cost rises behind the rent increase, and be willing to share those facts.
The Ortner prescriptions are aimed at maximizing profitability by keeping rent increases rational—and tenant-landlord communications open. If you have ever considered the investment potential of becoming a landlord yourself, right now is a terrific time to investigate the opportunities our Stockton market is offering. Give me a call—I’ll show you what I mean!

Selling During the Outdoor Months Means Exterior Staging

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 Stockton 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 areas make it easy to picture themselves enjoying our beautiful Stockton 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 areas 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 touch ups you can easily do yourself.

If staging the back (and possibly front) yards is likely to be a really important part of marketing your Stockton area 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 Stockton 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!

5 Tips Maximize Summertime Stockton House Showings

 

When the Stockton weather turns sizzling, you might think that house showings might go better by holding off for milder weather. After all, as the mercury rises, energy levels tend to wilt, so prospective buyers willing to take on a big initiative—like lining up a new house—might seem to be in short supply. You might think that—but the evidence actually points in the opposite direction.

It seems that the hottest weather invites more home buying instead of less. At least that’s what the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests—and experts at Fannie Mae agree.

The NBER finds that “warm weather may have a positive impact on home sales.” In warm weather, if a home has features like access to a swimming pool or A/C, “buyers can see themselves enjoying the home on a nice day.”

Indeed, Fannie Mae’s research into how consumers feel about buying a home at different times of the year points to a similar seasonal effect. Part of Fannie’s Economic & Strategic Research Group’s findings line up with real estate’s well-known seasonal bias. Part of the strength of Stockton’s traditional spring and summer selling season may be due to prospective buyers’ need to make a change before the new school year starts, but if so, it’s a strong enough incentive to obscure any discomfort brought on by the July and August heat.

It’s all welcome news for homeowners planning Stockton house showings at this time of year—but it’s still a good idea to make some weather-wise adjustments. Here are 5 tips for hot weather house showings:

1.      Let the A/C rip! Most experts say 72 degrees is the correct setting for central air systems—but I find that it’s really dependent on the difference between outside and in. When you walk through the front door, if the atmosphere gives you a refreshing lift (not a shivering chill), that’s the right setting.

2.      Be vigilant about smells. Summertime brings out any pet or musty aromas that aren’t as apparent during the rest of the year, so pay special attention to what your nose knows. If a dehumidifier helps eliminate a damp area, set it to work. This is also the right time to invest in quality scent-producing oils or candles.

3.      Refreshments. A pitcher of ice water with lemons or similar thoughtful provision will be greatly appreciated by your guests (and your Realtor®!)

4.      Green. The lawn and plantings are always central to creating the curb appeal that sets the stage for everything else, so keep the front yard as green and welcoming as practical.

5.      Leave lights on. Even though it can feel cooler in dark rooms, let the climate control do that work. House showings go better in a light and bright environment any time of year.

If your Stockton home has excellent cooling systems or an inviting swimming pool setup, now is the time to make the most of it. Give me a call to see if we can get started before summer starts to slip away!

Six Stockton July 4th Time-Fillers for Celebration

For the most Stockton July 4th celebrants, the period between the last barbecued hot dog and the first firework (even if it’s only on TV) can drag on so long that it threatens the festivities.

Times like these may not quite try men’s (or Moms’) souls, but they do cry out for creative diversions like word games, foam football tosses, or—in extreme cases—trivia. As a public service for those in need of sparking Independence Day trivia, here are Stockton July 4th trivia I present in the form of six quiz questions. Warning: the answers may be stranger than you think:

1.     When was the first July 4th celebration in the White House?

a)     1776

b)     1781

c)     1801

d)     1866

2.     Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on

a)     July 5

b)     a Tuesday

c)     a birchbark canoe frame

d)     a laptop

3.     The percentage of imported U.S. flags that come from China is

a)     99%

b)     About 50%

c)     Less than 10%

d)     87.5%

4.     The Star-Spangled Banner’s “bombs bursting in air” burst in which war?

a)     Boer War

b)     American Revolution

c)     Civil War

d)     War of 1812

5.     The number of people living in the U.S. in 1776 was

a)     750,000

b)     6 million

c)     25 million

d)     2.5 million

6.     Two other places which celebrate their country’s liberation on July 4th are

a)     Canada and Mexico

b)     Canada and Mozambique

c)     Canada and Bermuda

d)     Rwanda and the Philippines

ANSWERS (don’t peek early):

The answers are all d’s, with the explanation for 2-d) Jefferson drafted the Declaration on a “writing slope”—a foldable wooden writing compartment that fit atop his lap. For less controversial answers to all your Stockton real estate questions, call me!

Stockton Staging via 30-Minute DIY Home Improvements

 

 You’re eager to get your home sold quickly with a minimum of fuss. You’ve been over the comparables with your Realtor®; and the listing looks and reads great. It’s getting close to showing time—and although you know that your Stockton property is a great buy that any new owner would be proud to call home, you also know that this spring there is a lot of competition out there.

Producing a quick turnaround is about the marketing—which your agent is handling adroitly—but it’s also about presentation. That’s “staging”—an area you can definitely do something about!

According to the Room Solutions website, properly staging a home has been shown to reduce time on market by a factor of 5. Those comparison stats are notoriously hard to prove, but when a home has been stuck in the listings for months, undergoes professional staging, then sells in a fraction of the time, it is pretty convincing. But whether or not you decide to engage a full-on professional Stockton staging service, there are plenty of small scale DIY home improvements that take 30 minutes or less—but which make a big staging difference.

·  Reinvigorate the bathroom and other tiled areas by doing some grout cleaning. That grout between tiles may have been pristine when you first moved in, but years of use will take a toll. Use plain water and a stiff brush (they’re easy to find at any home center) to get rid of build-up and residue. Stubborn areas may need a spray bottle with a 50% solution of white vinegar: spray, leave it on for 5 minutes or so, then brush off and rinse. It really makes a difference when you bring the grout back to its original uniform tone.

·  Many Stockton kitchens are burdened by an outmoded, timeworn backsplash. Replacing it may sound like a major project, but it is often possible to make quick work of it using one of the new peel-and-stick backsplash products. Instead of tearing up your kitchen and taking days to assemble a replacement, look into peel-and-stick tiling. These products come in many colors and styles—with installation processes that can have the entire project done in very short order.

·  Touchup. Repainting whole rooms is not something that can be accomplished in minutes, but some rooms don’t need all that. Taking care of small but unsightly wall dings and scuffs will bolster first impressions—and often, just a few minor touchups can do the trick. If you don’t have the original paint style notes, some stores have computerized color-matching systems that recreate sample hues. Wood trim scuffs and stains can often be banished with colored felt pens or crayon color packs; more obscure tones may require a color matching kit. In any case, the time requirement is minor compared with the resulting subliminal improvement.

·  Stain kitchen cabinets. If yours is one of Stockton’s older home with original kitchen cabinets that remain dull no matter what you do, you can still avoid the time and expense of completely replacing them. Instead, renew the existing stain job or switch to a new tone that complements the kitchen.

Staging a Stockton home is an important component to the overall marketing effort your Realtor provides. If you are looking for some energetic help in that department, I’m here to answer your questions!!

A Cool Reception as Stockton Summer Arrives

 

Friday officially marks the end Stockton’s spring 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 lower costs in 2021), 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!

Wealth Management Gets Stockton Home Buyers’ Attention

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!

 

6 Clever Tips Lighten 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!

 

Sell Your Stockton Home by Neutralizing the Nuances

It may sound paradoxical, but one proven way to sell your Stockton home is to make it boring…or at least, a little bit more boring.

The principle here stems from buyer psychology—specifically, the difference between a house that would make a great tourist attraction and one whose first impression is more apt to lead to a sale. At first blush, the flashy version might seem to be not only memorable, ­­­but more valuable as well. But that’s not typically true.

A potential buyer can remember your house in two different ways. One memory might be of striking red walls and purple tile that call to mind images from an architectural magazine. That sort of memory will be vivid, but it doesn’t necessarily help to sell your home. A different type of memory could be of a living room that is just the right size for a couch, with a bare spot over the fireplace mantle that would be perfect for…whatever—the specifics will be personal for every potential buyer.

To sell your home, the odds are good that the second impression will sell your Stockton home to more prospects than will the first. The better result is to leave buyers with the mental image of a home they could see themselves living in—rather than one they might admire as a design exhibit.

The difference between these two types of memory is highlighted in an analysis published by Consumer Reports. Their research found that homes painted in neutral colors sell at a premium of up to $5,000 more than similar homes painted in brighter, more distinctive colors. Results came from an analysis of thousands of photographs of homes for sale. Today’s neutrals tend toward greys, taupes, and beiges—but even when fashions change, the underlying wisdom remains. The principal reason these colors help sell a home is that they form unobtrusive backgrounds to buyers’ own imaginations—in other words, “boring” becomes “memorable” when it allows onlookers’ own imaginations to take over. Neutral colors accomplish that by creating a canvas onto which potential buyers can paint their own masterpieces.

First impressions are important for laying the groundwork, but it’s your Stockton real estate agent who makes all the difference when it comes to following through. That’s where I come in. Give me a call!

 

Unexpected Answer for Timing Your Stockton Listing To Hit The Market!!

 If this is going to be a year of upsets, the rules for when Stockton listings are best initiated might be primed to fly out the window. There’s no guarantee that 2020’s Stockton listing performance will bend the rules, but if the National Association of Realtor’s® news site is right, it’s a definite possibility.

The history has long demonstrated that the most opportune time of year to add your home to the Stockton listings is during the peak spring and summer seasons. When you look at the volume of home sales through most years, those months do look inviting. There are exceptions, but for the most part, spring and summer regularly excel in sales volume.

Last week, the Realtor® website ran an article in their Trends area headlining that “This Year, Sellers May Benefit from Listing Early In The Season.” Their reasoning was short and sweet—citing recent facts, then drawing a conclusion that’s the opposite of what they seem to indicate. Here are the facts:

1.      Supply. It’s a fact that from one end of the country to the other, the residential inventory (supply) is starkly reduced. According to the NAR, “Inventory levels at the beginning of 2020 are at multiyear lows.” Thus, homeowners who list now “face very little competition.”

2.      Demand. Even though the late fall and winter months have traditionally shown weak demand, the threat of mortgage rate hikes­­—then the actual rises­—may have been all that was needed to instill a growing sense of urgency among buyers. Early results reflect buyer demand that’s “abnormally strong” for this time of year.

3.      Optimism. Even with consumer confidence on the fence, once the spring/summer buying season gets going in earnest, Stockton buyers might find themselves in “buying competition” that will “get fierce.”

These trends are all well-documented. Yet at first blush, they seem to argue against listing your home now. After all, wouldn’t it still make sense for to follow the traditional dictum­—to hold off until that fierce competition takes hold? The answer that flips such a conclusion is found in the fourth fact:

4.      Sellers Will be Buyers. Overwhelmingly, national surveys suggest that the homeowners behind most Stockton listings will also become buyers once they have sold. In fact, an estimated 85% of American home sellers plan to buy another home! If that’s correct, it’s not surprising that they’ll be grateful if they are quick to sell into this winter’s market. That will not only help them get a jump on the crowd come springtime—it will also lengthen the odds that they can cash in on mortgage rates before they rise substantially. All of a sudden, the net advantage to listing early could be substantial!

The short takeaway is that simply accepting the old common wisdom warrants a second look in 2020. If you are one of our Stockton homeowners who automatically presumed the wisdom of waiting a while longer to join the Stockton listings, it might pay to reassess. Give me a call if you’d like to discuss how your plans fit into today’s broader residential picture­—and how to take maximum advantage of this year’s market!