Fall Can Be Prime Time for Selling Your Stockton Home!!!

 

 

Springtime is correctly known near and far as the peak season for selling your home—in Stockton; elsewhere in the U.S.; probably on Mars, too. Everybody knows it. This has created a most unfortunate side effect: namely, the notion that if you missed the spring home sales binge, you’d best cancel all plans and hold your house off the market until next year (even if you’re actually ready to list).

So…should you give up on selling your home in Stockton as we move into the cooler months?

Far from it! In fact, many agents with years of experience under their belts have done the math and consider autumn to be the second best season to sell a home. When you think about it, it’s logical. For one thing, there certainly are prospects who won’t wait—buyers who will be happily mowing their new lawns by the time next spring rolls around. Weather is another reason: fall brings many moderate, perfect-for-home-touring days. Then there’s the calendar itself, providing extra motivation to buy (e.g., everyone who wants to be in their new home before the holidays, or who needs to complete the sale in tax year 2020).

For those who aren’t falling for the wait-until-spring notion, here are a few tips that will help you spruce up your Stockton property for the fall sales market:

First off, make sure all of the personal summertime clutter—the kids’ camp gear, pool floats, the by-now thoroughly bent croquet wickets—are out of sight. Put the yard into tip-top condition with grass cut, shrubbery tamed, and lawn raked. You should be able to step out the back door and view an uncluttered vista. As always, the object is to enable anyone who visits to readily visualize their own family’s stuff in the cleared outdoor space.

Shorter days means waning natural light, so selling your Stockton home in autumn requires a little extra attention to lighting touches. To guarantee the home looks its best even in late afternoon, open the draperies, blinds, and shutters, and make sure lights and lamps are all turned on. Outside, anywhere the summer’s growing season has resulted in plantings that have overgrown windows, now is the time to trim them—it’s always amazing how less than an hour of snipping can brighten up a home’s interior. You may also consider adding some lighting along walkways, or a well-placed floodlight over the driveway. As we move deeper toward winter, those features will give a subtle boost to after-workday early evening showings.

You don’t have to have hired a professional stager to take advantage of the positive seasonal touches that go with the advent of autumn. Colorful mums, warm-hued candles, pumpkins (or just about any harvest-themed table décor items)—all are familiar details that have the predictable effect of helping people feel more at home. A few well-placed accents don’t take nearly as much effort as some other aspects of selling your local home, but taken together, all contribute to a welcoming presentation.

Where is the nearest pumpkin patch? Where are the closest autumn-themed school or community festivities? Selling a home in fall can benefit when you leave some material about our local seasonal activities in the entryway. Sometimes the charm of a neighborhood winds up being the deciding factor for a waffling prospective buyer.

If you’ve been undecided about whether selling your home now—or waiting until next spring—is the best course of action, why not contact me today for a preliminary walk-through and pricing evaluation. I think we can put together a plan in action to get your home sold for top dollar sooner rather than later!

Top 4 Post-Labor Day House Hunting Changes For Some Stockton House Hunters

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!

Time for a Little End-of-Summer Stockton Home Maintenance As Summer Wanes

It seems just yesterday that the beach towels were coming out of the closet—alas! With back-to-school specials ending and Labor Day Weekend upon us, it’s time to admit that summer is just about done for. Whether you’ve just purchased a new property, are sprucing up your Stockton home with thoughts of putting it on the market this fall, or are just getting ready for the change of seasons, now is time to take a critical look at your abode as you prepare for cooler temperatures.

Fireplace If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, it’s unlikely to have gotten much use for quite a while. Now is the time to make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and free of debris or other buildup (think ‘abandoned bird nest’). If it’s been a few years, calling in a pro to do a clean sweep is probably the best idea.

Carpet or Paint Whether or not you are planning to sell your Stockton home, if it’s likely you will be tackling any interior painting, carpet replacement, or major deep-cleaning, handling these projects while the weather is still mild will speed drying and maximize ventilation—making those jobs considerably more pleasant!

Tree Trimming Now is a good time to cut back branches that have overgrown your Stockton home’s roof—and one of the last chances to remove defective limbs while they still are easy to spot. Reducing the volume of leaves that will be clogging your roof’s gutters is a side benefit; another is eliminating an inviting pathway for the assortment of rodents who might seek refuge in your home as the temperature drops.

Yard Cleanup Also on the topic of pests: firewood, ladders, and toys stacked against the house can also attract spiders, mice, and other undesirables. It’s a good time to do an end-of-summer inspection stroll around your Stockton home to double-check that the walls are clear of anything that may have been temporarily leaned against them.

Once all is done, you deserve to sit back, relax, and prepare to enjoy some football (that’s what fall is for, isn’t it?). Sweater weather may not be here for a while, but you don’t have to wait until then to call me to discuss any of your Stockton home real estate plans!

Predicting Stockton Home Sales Using a Familiar Rule of Thumb

 

The volume of Stockton home sales this fall will depend on more than just the number and quality of listings—though they do seem to be stacking up fairly well. Predictions are always less than reliable, but when a major benchmark is met for real estate activity on the national scene, it can be a pretty convincing indicator.

In any case, it’s useful to take into account a wide variety of sources. They help you sniff out the reasons why home sales ought to surge (like low interest rates, today’s Stockton situation) or why home sales ought to fall (like an economic recession, thankfully not Stockton’s current situation).

So the Wall Street Journal’s headliner about new home sales came as red meat for local would-be real estate seers. “Sales of New Homes Surge to Highest Level Since ‘12,” read the headline in a story (it was right below “Student-Loan Defaults Drop;” itself another good sign). The “surge” story was calling attention to the latest Commerce Department announcement that new home sales climbed 18% in August, “the biggest one-month jump since 1992” and “the highest level of sales since May 2012…”

That last date is an eye-catcher, since the U.S. was then in a recession (actually, I think we could safely call it “THE” recession). Economists have been going back and forth for at least the past four years about whether the slow recovery was strong enough to stimulate the housing sector (Stockton home sales are part of that); or whether it was the other way around—or even whether the recovery was even truly a recovery.

The WSJ story dealt specifically with a surge in new home activity, which, since that comprises only about 10% of the market, could be a reason to ignore its value as a gauge. But that would be to overlook some extra information buried in paragraph #3 pointing out that “home builder optimism this month reached the highest level since 2005.”

That means rising new home starts. The builders are pulling out their hammers and saws.

Why is that so important? Take any headline-grabbing Wall Street or political scandal as an indicator. As the scandal begins to unravel, sooner or later some pundit will intone the irrefutable rule of thumb advice for how to uncover who or what was behind all the mischief: “Follow the money!

When the big new home builders start pulling out their wallets and breaking ground, the money (smart or otherwise) is pointing in the direction that augurs well for the whole of real estate activity—in Stockton, as well as nationally. If you have been waiting for that kind of activity to embark on your own home selling or buying project, it means that this fall your wait may be over. Give me a call to get more specifics about where your plans could fit into today’s local home sales picture!

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!