Stockton Homeowners Still Selling Homes During The Corona Virus Outbreak

I am sure all of you are excited to see my blog post on the topic of selling your house during corona virus outbreak. But this is what we are dealing with for the next couple of months. With so much information flying around, it’s hard to be calm during an unknown time. There is good news though! Interest rates are at an all time low and may continue to get lower in the passing days. Why is this good news? Well it means people are going to take advantage of these rates and buy houses. Here’s how you can prepare your home as a seller and get ready for these buyers!

CLEANLINESS FIRST!!

With what we know about the virus, we want to ensure everyone has safety in mind first and foremost! If you are preparing to sell your home during this time, we want to make sure all parties are protected. This includes getting your home deep cleaned before you list on the market. We want to make sure all solid surfaces are wiped down with a bleach formula as well as all door handles and light switches. If you have carpet in your home, we suggest getting them professionally cleaned and for hardwood floors, using a sanitation cleaner.

WHAT ABOUT SHOWINGS & OPEN HOUSES?

Once your home is listed and you started getting showings, make sure you leave your property for all showings. When you return home after showings, rewipe all surfaces that people may have touched. Buyers agents will instruct buyers to not touch anything but it doesn’t hurt to resanitize after each walk through. We suggest leaving hand sanitizer  by the front door and a note saying to please use before and after looking at your home. Open houses should not be held during the outbreak time as it could be endangering your agent and/or attendees.

GETTING AN OFFER:

Once you get an offer and all terms are agreed on, we suggest doing all paperwork online. This includes sending offers and terms via electronic signing software. This way, no papers have to touch hands at any point. Once you are fully executed, let the other agent know that you only want minimal people in your property during the home inspection period so maybe just the agent and inspector be present.

CLOSING:

Good news is closings can be remote also! You can have the title company email you all paperwork and have a mobile notary come to your house to sign all documents if you don’t feel comfortable being at the closing table. All title companies are going above and beyond to keep pens and table sanitized right now but it’s all about your comfort level. Title companies can wire you your funds once the closing is complete so you don’t have to worry about picking up a check.

The point in all of this is to keep facts above fear in this time. If you don’t like the option of people coming through your house during this period, your home will have a difficult time selling, so be creative and take precautions, BUT KEEP SHOWING.

At Bright Side Real Estate we are set up with all of the modern electronic options for signings and virtual tours. Our utmost concern at this time is public safety. We can do virtual consult appointments, teleconference appointments, sign all paperwork electronically and set up showings for the least possible inconvenience. Give us a call today to discuss your strategy!!

 

 

6 Factors Shape Spring Selling Season in Stockton

This Thursday, Stockton calendars mark the first day of spring: 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 homebuyers 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 homebuyers 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.

St Patrick’s Day: Perfect Day for Selling a Stockton Home?

Many people don’t fully understand why it is that St. Patrick’s is the perfect day for selling a Stockton home, or for buying one. But if ever there were a right time to explain it, this is it. There is one drawback to any such explanation, though: namely, that it makes so little sense.

That does not seem to make much difference to a lot of real estate industry marketing supply companies. I can bear witness to that fact, in the form of the postcards and various art pieces that are pitched to Realtors en masse ahead of every St. Pat’s. As you might guess, they are green (usually very green), and almost without exception bear some rendition of a four leaf clover. Also rainbows, pots of gold, wee leprechauns wearing green top hats with buckles on them, and sometimes horseshoes (to indicate the Luck O’ the Irish, of course).

What could this have to do with selling a Stockton home, or buying one? That’s very hard to pin down. There is the simple good will postcard, that says, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” with no further connection. That’s a nice thought, certainly, and not risky. Who wouldn’t want to have a happy St. Patrick’s Day? There is one with a good-looking home at the end of a rainbow, with a wee little leprechaun holding a “Welcome Home!” sign—certainly a strong connection between selling a Stockton home and the celebration.

One of the best ones is the poster that features two shades of green, a cartoon three-leaf clover (mistake there, if you ask me) upon which is printed in Celtic-looking letters, “You don’t need to have the ‘Luck of the Irish’ to sell your home.” You have to like that one, because it doesn’t discriminate against people who aren’t Irish (the closer you get to St. Patrick’s Day, the more you run the risk of seeming to snub the non-Irish among us).

There is one postcard with a lady bug crawling over clover leaves emblazoned with a sentimental poem, but the emotionality of the poetry is tempered by the heading, “For all Your Real Estate needs just give me a call!” Balance is important on St. Patrick’s Day…but it’s not clear that the card with the green beer mugs got that message (which is “Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Remember, parade watching is like real estate. Location, location, location.”).

One that also tips the scales in the direction of crass commercialism is the picture of the big pot o’ gold brimming with gold coins. It says, “It takes more than Luck to sell your home.” I’m not sure what the St. Pat’s message is for that one—that selling your Stockton home requires you to go out, find a leprechaun or rainbow, and wangle a pot o’ gold? It’s simply not the case. If you ask me, an experienced Realtor with a great marketing plan and a reasonable price will do the trick better than pots o’ gold or four-leaf clovers. Still, that can’t keep me from wishing you a terrific St. Patrick’s Day, as too!

4 Tricks the Pros Use for Stockton Open Houses

Since bright, sunny days can’t be counted on for Stockton open houses scheduled in February, the most common recommendations at this time of year deal with light. Everyone points out how doubly important it is to open the drapes and make sure all lamps and overheads are working. Where necessary, it’s also a good idea to brighten dim corners with higher wattage bulbs.

There are also any number of fine points that homeowners planning Stockton open houses might not have heard about. Familiarity is a handicap in that respect. Being able to view a property’s rooms with fresh eyes is one of the advantages open house staging professionals bring to the party.

Beyond maximizing the “light and bright” quality that’s so important at this time of year, here some tricks of the trade that stagers and interior designers talk about:

  1. Unclutter but don’t overdo. That is, never leave a room totally empty—it actually makes a room look smaller. A companion tip is to give every room a purpose. Showing what is presented as a nondescript “bonus room” runs the risk of losing its value: what’s forgettable is usually also unimportant.
  2. Use the golden rule of home staging: The Rule of Three (it could also be called Rule of Five or Seven). Groupings with odd numbers of objects—whether chairs or artwork or accessories—create visually rich spaces that force the eye to explore. An even number of objects imparts a forced, geometric feeling that comes off as less natural. Try experimenting with chairs around a table: you’ll see that it works!
  3. Play up a room’s best attribute by positioning accessories. When a room has a natural focal point (it might be a window with a view or an inviting fireplace), place attractive objects where they will direct attention to that area.
  4. Place furniture People scan things from left to right (even rooms as we enter them)—so experts say that placing the tallest piece of furniture in the far left corner makes a room seem larger. If you can’t predict which will be the entry door, just make sure large pieces aren’t right next to a door—if people enter through that one, it will make the room feel much smaller.

Stockton open houses can be terrific events for building awareness when your home is on the market—but it’s only one of many marketing tools I will bring to your campaign. Call me!

More Stockton Real Estate Features Include Electronics

In Stockton real estate, it’s the steak—not the sizzle—that draws serious offers.

Even so, every year about this time it can be useful (and great fun!) to watch what comes out of Las Vegas’ CES gathering. This year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show—the annual trade extravaganza that grabs headlines for its bounty of new electronic product unveilings—unveiled a number of smart home tech debuts. Some were, as commentators noted, “weird and wonderful”—while others were potentially important incremental steps toward what will eventually become everyday household necessities. Among those that caught my eye:

  • Echo Plus-connected gadgetry: Amazon’s ubiquitous wifi-connected digital assistant (aka “Alexa”) is getting its/her artificially intelligent mitts into a vast number of home devices, from TVs to toasters. Disneyland-style homes of the future seem ever closer at hand as more and more household appliances and devices become controllable with just a word to your closest Alexa or Google Assistant outlet.
  • 5G: Get familiar with this term, which denotes the technology which soon will enable home wireless speeds 100 times faster than the current technology Stockton homes use today. In the unlikely event that your own home still lacks wireless connectivity—we should talk!
  • Smart Rooms: too many to detail, smart bathroom appliances include intelligent showers that save water even as they direct temperature-controlled streams your way; smart kitchens featuring ovens clever enough to shut themselves off when dinner’s ready; and smart driveways that clear themselves of debris.
  • Furbo: a treat-tossing camera/speaker that lets owners remotely spoil pets from anywhere in the world.
  • Robots and More Robots: on hand were a laundry-folding robot; a pair of dancing robots; an owl-like children’s companion robot; and LG’s kitchen helper, a recipe-fetching robot (“Cloi”) that repeatedly stalled (possibly from over-excitement).

The consumer show also demonstrated what looks like an iPad perched on a roller-mounted monopod: a real estate agent robot! Said to be capable of leading prospective renters or buyers on home tours, it answered prospects’ questions via long-distance connection with an actual agent who managed the tour via remote control.

For the foreseeable future, I think I’ll be sticking with less creepy, in-person showings. For those or any other of your own Stockton real estate initiatives, please give me a call!

Have Stockton Households Ditched Theaters for Media Rooms?

Last month, the Wall Street Journal’s “Homes” section led with a splashy layout about media rooms. Stockton real estate veterans would probably nod at the article’s historical account that “there was a time” when high-end homes demonstrated their media bona fides through well-appointed home theaters. Many did tend to be “found in the basement,” did often have fabric walls for soundproofing, and sometimes added a Godfather or Batman poster to burnish the experience. Some Stockton households even included popcorn machines.

The balance of the piece (“The New Mansion Must: A Media Room”) dealt with today’s version of the home theater: “the media room.” Instead of the front-facing padded theater seats, today’s examples more often feature “cozy couches, table and chairs” arranged to facilitate TV and movie watching. The Journal contrasted yesterday’s setup—which frequently had home theatergoers immersed in a dark room on a level away from the rest of the household—with today’s more convenient version, situated at the center of home life.

The shift has been made possible by more compact technology. Instead of having to rely on a big screen projector or one of the gargantuan rear-projection TVs, we have our ubiquitous flat-screen TVs. If you’ve seen any of the newer ones, the image quality can be breath-taking. Almost “3-D”-looking. And somehow the engineers have devised ways to manufacture screens that show in regular room light. In fact, the article includes a shot of a flat-screen that’s clearly visible despite being adjacent to a sliding glass door in full daylight.

Although the thrust of the piece deals with how today’s millionaire mansion owners divide their time between 103-inch TV screens “recessed into the wall” and as many as 30 other digital display devices scattered about the grounds, most of the discussion is quite relatable to Stockton homeowners of more modest means. In fact, speaking for the majority of my home selling clients, it’s increasingly hard to find any today who haven’t succeeded in integrating a generous-sized flat-screen into their everyday household arrangement.

In fact, for most of Stockton’s non-billionaire homeowners, I think we could do better in naming today’s home theaters than the Journal’s “media room.” I’d call them something like “the living room.”

Today’s prospective homebuyers do increasingly think about media, wifi-readiness, cable availability, etc. Staying abreast of their shifting preferences is part of my job. Call me!

 

 

 

 

Stockton Showings and Open Houses Keep the Audience in Mind

Getting properties ready for open houses or other showings in Stockton takes a bit of determination—especially when it comes to paring down all the ‘stuff’ that has accumulated through the years. It’s a push-pull between I still use that every day! and this room still looks too crowded! You may update the paint, add some fresh landscaping, but it’s the emptying-out part that sometimes takes the most resolve.

So, after that’s all done, are you ready for showings?

Not quite.

Showings and open houses are a bit like concerts and plays. They’re presentations which (hopefully) result in an experience that is pleasurable. In order to make that happen, there have to be workers who prepare behind the scenes. When successful, their efforts are invisible—a “hit” show seems to progress by itself, effortlessly. Stockton showings and open houses have that in common with theatrical productions, and to be successful, one other thing has to be present: the focus should be on the audience, not the cast members or crew. For home showings, that means thinking about what the prospective buyer (the audience) will encounter as he or she walks from room to room.

Allowing yourself to imagine how someone not familiar with your house will experience it is an exercise that yields another useful side effect. It reminds you that showings and open houses are staged to invite strangers onto the property—and that should prompt a few additional precautions.

First, think about children. You can’t keep Lookie-loos from showing up occasionally, but Stockton area prospects who bring their children usually mean business. You should ensure that your home is free of potential child hazards before showings. Just as you would child-proof for family member visits, eliminate unnecessarily long extension cords, tempting (and sharp) fireplace pokers, knickknacks small enough to be choking hazards (should have packed them up, anyway!) and any other dangerous thing that might attract little fingers.

Not only because of children, clear as much of the half-used debris from cabinets and shelves as possible. Make them look like the spacious ones you see on HGTV—your “audience” will be impressed with the abundance of storage. Don’t forget the medicine cabinet. Secure all medications, so you don’t have to worry when you are gone or out of the room. Clean out the “junk drawer” or the place where you keep mail or bills. Everything will look organized and your private information will be secure from over-curious eyes. For these and for jewelry, you may want to get a lock box for added security.

When you do walk-throughs like a first-time visitor, you will find that you’re much more able to relax while your trusted real estate agent is conducting showings. Showings are just part of what will make up an effective marketing effort for your Stockton home. Give me a call to discuss how we can make all the parts fit together!

A Real Estate Broker in Stockton—Willing to Share a Thing or 3!

 

Real estate agents and brokers in Stockton are true veterans when it comes to every aspect of what needs to take place for a home to be sold. We know in advance what all the pieces of the puzzle are, and what needs to be done for them to fit together properly. We’ve also seen why some homes stay on the market for too long, while others get snatched up right away. And the best part is—we want our clients to know all those same things!

Every rule may be made to be broken, but here are three generalities that just about every local real estate agent will probably agree are worth knowing:

  1. Where speed is important, price your house just under the market. As real estate values strengthen in Stockton, sellers are growing more confident about the value of their offerings—even as prospective buyers continue to believe it’s a bargain-hunter’s market. That’s a terrific opportunity for sellers who realize that by simply setting their asking price just below what an optimistic, “let’s just see what happens” price, they can peg their offering to attract the serious buyers ASAP. It’s axiomatic: the longer a house is on the market, the less likely it is to close at its asking price. The best strategy, always: sell as quickly as possible.
  2. A buyer needs to walk into your house and find that it looks great. It may seem like a trivial detail to you, but real estate agents in Stockton know that even incidental atmospherics—little things that you’d think a buyer would know they can easily rectify—can instantaneously repel buyers. So make your home smell great! Establish a clean, fresh scent and be diligent in renewing it for every showing (after making sure any clutter is tucked away!)
  3. Your Stockton real estate broker will help speed the process of selling your home, but there are some parts of the timeline that can’t be rushed. Know in advance: the process takes time. It takes time to get your home in shape, make the necessary repairs, have it staged, list it on the market, negotiate an offer, then proceed through all the paperwork, observing successive deadlines set to allow proper execution. Here’s another area where your real estate agent will be a great resource for dependably establishing exactly what to expect—and when to expect it.

If you will be seeking the right Stockton real estate Broker/agent to make this spring your own hot selling season, I’m standing by to make it happen. Call me!

 

Pinocchio – and Buying Time in Stockton Real Estate

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 ECONOMIC FORECAST

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

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

1. Unemployment Stays Low

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

2. Mortgage rates to sustain housing demand

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

3. Modest improvement in housing supply

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

4. Commercial

Bright Outlook for Multifamily and Industrial Properties

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

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

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

Affordable Multifamily Housing Strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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