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!

On the Hunt for an “Average House Price” in Stockton

 

When you do a web search for “average house price in Stockton,” you come up with a lot of good, not-so-good, and just plain lame information. If you were looking for a general idea of what the current market says that homes like yours in your neighborhood are worth, the results are likely to be more amusing than anything else.

You always come up with the national sites’ average listing price for homes for sale in Stockton. Depending upon how recently their data engine found and tossed out duplicates and errors, and that can be an interesting number. You will also get state real estate trends, a list of average sold prices (this one seems to be subject to error); an instant, somewhat dubious calculation for the average price per square foot of a house in Stockton; and ads. Lots and lots of ads. But almost all of the “averages” are affected by listings and/or sale prices for “lot/land for sale” and the like…hardly useful unless your own house has recently disappeared. Likewise, unless your property is a weekend getaway chalet, any “charming, quiet cabin” listings will send the “average house price in Stockton” calculation seriously awry.
On a recent web excursion, I did stumble across a great cartoon presentation at the CNN.com site. It was an animation that showed how the average American home has changed over the past 40 years. The graphics show a typical house as it expands, contracts, adds features and loses them (the fireplace disappeared about 10 years ago: who knew that?).
With a tip of the hat to creator Bard Edlund, here’s a synopsis of the highlights:
1973 found the median new single family residence at 1,525 square feet.
A mere seven years later, air conditioning and a fireplace had appeared…anyone familiar with the era might be forgiven for retrieving the mental image of President Nixon’s Oval Office fireplace roaring while the air conditioning blasts away…
In 1984, George Orwell’s’ predictions aren’t totally in place, but the square footage has stretched to 1,605, and the average house price is $79,900. Ten years later, the house has expanded to 1,940 square feet, average house price is $130,000.
That “average house price” growth is pretty convincing: the narrator backtracks to point out that “the median sales price has gone from $64,600 in 1980 to $169,000 just 20 years later.” Alas, even though the cartoon doesn’t show a wrecking crew tearing it out, “the fireplace disappears in 2007” (there’s still one in the White House, though); “right before the house contracts during the economic crisis.” Then the recovery: by 2013, the average price of $268,900 supports a house having 2,384 square feet of space: 56% larger than the house of 40 years ago.
The animations and commentaries are diverting—and asking Bing or Google for the average Stockton house price does get you a raft of information—but if you are seriously pricing our current Stockton market, a specific detailed search right here on my site will get you a lot closer to the information you need. And if you are considering the sale of your own home, you deserve a professionally researched comparable analysis—the kind performed by an experienced, licensed area Realtor®. That’s me, and I’d be pleased to perform exactly that kind of thorough-going ‘comp’ for your property, with no obligation attached. And you don’t have to search further: I’m just a phone call away!

 

Easy Communication with Your Stockton Broker—It’s Vital!

One of the most important yet seldom discussed factors that should rate near the top of your list of requirements for a Stockton agent is how comfortable you feel in conversation with him or her. What might sound like New Age feel-goodery is actually a crucial ingredient in the buying and selling of Stockton homes.

Selecting a real estate agent is more than a personnel decision—it also becomes a pivotal team-building exercise.

Professional qualifications necessarily come first. In addition to being licensed to carry out the duties and obligations required by the California authorities, the agent you tap should be able to point to a successful track record of accomplishment in Stockton as well as being demonstrably competent in the use of the latest tools in the virtual (as well as actual) real estate marketing arenas. You’ll also be looking for a full-time professional—someone whose response time is measured in hours rather than days.

But added to those professional credentials are some often-overlooked reasons why you should also select a person who is easy to talk to. Whether you are enlisting your Stockton agent to help you buy or sell, success is much more likely to follow when the channels of communications open effortlessly—and stay that way.

If you are looking to sell, the more broadly informed your agent is, the more competent that agent will be when escorting prospects around your property. A stock of amusing and informative anecdotes—the stray bits and pieces that go with living in a place—will only be available to your agent if you’ve been comfortable swapping tales during strolls around the home. Experienced agents know that buyers automatically sense when the agent in charge is a relative stranger to the property—a setup that’s antithetical to having prospective buyers feel they can trust what they are being shown and told.

For buyers, too, free and open communication with your agent is invaluable for tagging all the Stockton homes that should be considered and visited—and those that needn’t be. The best Stockton agents not only have an encyclopedic knowledge of all current Stockton listings—in short order, they also know their client.

Needless to say, I strive to be the Stockton Realtor® who qualifies on all counts. I hope you’ll give me a call to get communications flowing!

“Last Step First” Idea for Landing Stockton Homes for Sale 

Particularly when the supply of homes for sale falls well below demand, house hunting can take more determination than usual. Since U.S. residential real estate markets have been long mired in exactly that lean-inventory situation—the accompanying publicity could discourage folks who’d otherwise already be in the hunt for Stockton homes for sale.

While it can take some stick-to-it-ness to locate the ideal Stockton home that’s for sale at a price that fits your budget—the truly frustrating thing would be for your offer to be passed over in favor of a competitor’s. If the other party swoops in with an over-the-top offer that would bust your own budget, there’s not much you can do about it. But if a competing offer wins out for other reasons, that’s truly crazy-making. Such a scenario might play out if the other party had prior experience in the process of landing homes for sale. They would have foreseen the value of putting the “last step first.”

The last step first in this connection refers to the steps involved in buying and selling a home. The buyer takes many steps leading up to the closing table. But a knowledgeable buyer also considers the process strategically from the other guy’s standpoint. And when you think about things from the seller’s POV, the last step comes with the weighty decision about whether to accept an offer.

When a seller gets the good news that an offer (or multiple offers) have been submitted, beyond the dollar amount, there are crucial dependability factors. If the buyer can’t actually follow through with the purchase because of credit score problems or some other factor, it means the last step in the seller’s process was a misstep. It can be an expensive one. The seller may have lost qualified buyers while the bank was deciding not to fund. And now the property may be seen as less desirable than other Stockton homes for sale which haven’t lingered unsold for nearly as long…

When the seller’s choice is between one offer from a buyer who has been pre-approved by a lender and another from someone who is just beginning to feverishly gather pay stubs and tax returns, the prudent decision is pretty clear. The first buyer foresaw what the seller’s decision might well hinge upon—and dealt with that last step first.

Part of my value as your agent is in knowing all the steps you as a buyer or seller will encounter, and helping you prepare for each in a timely and wholly stress-free manner. I hope you’ll call me!

Buying a House in Stockton, First Step

Once you’ve settled on the goal of buying your first Stockton house, it’s hard to resist getting out there and getting started immediately! No matter if you know how vital it is to stick to a realistic budget on a purchase that’s this substantial, as soon as you’ve begun to save for that down payment, you’ll be hard-pressed not to at least stop by whenever you see an “Open House” sign. Even if it’s in a neighborhood where you know prices are half again what’s in your price range.

There may be no harm in that—but realistically, only if you are already following a delineated game plan. One that’s reality-based. Hard-headed. Businesslike. If not, it’s a better idea to resist the house hunting (even pre-house hunting) until your plans are charted out and underway. The danger in getting ahead of yourself is that buying your Stockton house is at least partially an emotional undertaking—and falling in love with the wrong house is the last thing you need. What’s at stake is gaining the incomparable feeling that now you control the place where you live (rather than the feeling that it’s the house that is controlling you)!

Drawing up a game plan that sets everything in motion the right way doesn’t take Pulitzer Prize creativity. Financial guru Dave Ramsey has even boiled it down to “7 simple steps” for buying a house. I’d go further: the most pivotal parts can actually be found in his first three:

  1. Save for a down payment
  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  3. Find a real estate agent

The first step takes no more than a sheet of paper, a sharp pencil, and determination to calculate how much you can realistically set aside each month. The second step comes after your savings are nearing the percentage likely to be required for your down payment. I might disagree with Mr. Ramsey that this comes next—teaming with your Stockton real estate agent might be a better Step 2. I know that clients sometimes ask me for information on special home loan programs that support discounted down payment percentages.

Once those qualifying steps are out of the way, the remaining steps can proceed like clockwork: 4. Go house hunting; 5. Submit an offer; 6. Get a home inspection; 7. Close on your house.

Of course, this step-by-step is over-simplified, but laying out an advance strategy for buying a house does keep you in the driver’s seat. It also makes it much more likely that the Stockton house you wind up with will be one that guarantees homeownership will be a joy instead of a burden. When you call me in to help at an early stage, I’ll work hard to make sure that happens!

 

 

Ageless Real Estate Advice Heartens Stockton Homeowners

It seems as if inflation is starting a slow creep back into Stockton supermarkets and gas stations—something that hasn’t happened for quite a while. For families on a tight budget, it’s hard not to notice—especially when it comes to trying to put something extra aside as a long-term investment.

By way of partially alleviating that concern, it’s worthwhile reviving some elevating insights from past eras. They stem from a chorus of exceptionally qualified voices when it comes to sophistication in investing: namely, economists, millionaires, and billionaires.

These elevating insights can be heartening whenever Stockton householders write a monthly mortgage check that pays down the principal. That only seems like a monthly expense—and hard-earned dollars out the door. In reality, those dollars are on their way to a happier place: the long-term investment column. And there’s been major agreement among history’s titans of finance that it’s a pretty smart destination, too! Here are a few of the many encouraging dictums that appear through the ages:

The major fortunes in America have been made in land.”

That’s investment advice that doesn’t beat around the bush. It’s all the more convincing when you consider its source: the first great American oil baron—John D. Rockefeller.

Land…is by far the greatest of monopolies…and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly.” –Winston Churchill, statesman.

“Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking, or economizing.”—John Stuart Mill, political economist.

“Ninety percent of all millionaires become so through owning real estate.”—Andrew Carnegie, industrialist.

“The best deal investment you can make is to buy a primary residence that you’re the owner-occupier of.”—John Paulson, billionaire hedge fund manager.

Buy real estate when other people want to sell. Hold what you buy!”—John Jacob Astor, first American multi-millionaire.

  • — — — —

If I may, I’d like to add one more timely piece of advice,:

For any and all of your own Stockton real estate matters, just call!”—me, your Stockton Real Estate Broker

Beyond Listing Strategy: One for the Record Books

When it’s time to put your Stockton house up for sale, one of the most important built-in marketing tools at your disposal is the write-up at the top of its Stockton listing.  Ad people call short descriptive essays like this “blurbs.” In Stockton listings, its importance is second only to the curb-appeal of the photo that appears above it.

When the blurb is thoughtfully crafted, it can shape prospects’ expectations by way of highlighting the best features while softening the importance of less desirable details. A huge backyard could be emphasized as “park-like”—while a tiny patio could be “cozy” or even “intimate.”

That’s why, after a lightning-fast sale took place last month in Sunnyvale, California, the agent who’d authored its blurb had to have been more than pleased. Realtor® Doug Larson had been working with a home that was definitely “cozy.” The blurb called it “a charmer”— a carefully-chosen adjective given its size (just 848 square feet of living space) and unremarkable lot size (about 1/8 acre). The blurb diplomatically pointed out a “large backyard patio.”

Now, the fact is that even though the single-story house clearly belonged in the “modest” category, its proximity to leading Silicon Valley campuses like Google and Apple merited a hefty asking price—even though Sunnyvale is a more affordable community than neighboring Cupertino or Palo Alto. At only $1.4 million, the listing price represented a strategic exercise in attracting motivated buyers by setting an asking price below comparables. Larson hoped that offers of $1.6 million or so would be forthcoming eventually.

The listing appeared on a Wednesday, but by Friday, despite a request that offers be withheld until a week had passed, a “persistent” Realtor® submitted her client’s offer.

If you are reading this while standing, please sit down.

“I was blown away by it,” said Larson. The offer was for a flat $2,000,000. That jaw-dropping sum works out to $2,358 for each and every one of the 848 square feet —making it not only the highest square foot price recorded in Sunnyvale; it is the highest price per square foot ever recorded in local MLS history. It generated headlines from coast to coast.

Stockton sellers might be forgiven for regarding this tale from a notoriously super heated market as somewhat irrelevant—but I’d argue that there are real-life Stockton lessons to be learned. For one, this is now the season for the kind of active market you may expect when springtime breaks out after a long, cold winter. For another, strategic under pricing can actually draw motivated buyers in a hurry. This particular example is hyperbolic, to be sure—but the takeaway is authentic.

For more ideas about maximizing your own Stockton listing’s marketing impact, give me a call!

Stockton’s Calendar Delivers 6 Reasons It’s Selling Season! As Stockton’s Spring Selling Season Begins, 6 Factors 6 Factors Shape Spring Selling Season in Stockton

Stockton calendars mark the first day of spring March 19th: 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.