Will Cuisine Impact Future Stockton Real Estate Trends? Could Food Become a Future Stockton Real Estate Trend? Developers in Competitive Markets Lure Foodie Buyers

Vintage cafe on the corner of the old city in Italy

For Stockton real estate watchers on the lookout for the latest trends, here’s some food for thought. According to last week’s Wall Street Journal, it’s one formerly overlooked amenity that is now evident in the increasingly competitive luxury condominium market. It’s gastronomic: the addition of exclusive residents-only gourmet restaurants.

Multiple examples are evident in Miami, where the 60 stories of the Porsche Design Tower aren’t its only sky-high features. With units listing for anywhere from six to thirty-two million dollars, PDT’s developers decided that enticing potential buyers’ taste buds would be a useful addition to its other amenities. Already included are robotic car lifts to owners’ private sky garages; two oversize swim-spas; 24-hour concierge and valet service; a virtual golf facility and a two-seat race car simulator. The added amenity is Fuel, the owners-only restaurant, where menu offerings like the truffle pasta purses and lamb osso buco are providing a competitive edge.

Another rival, Fisher Island’s Palazzo Del Sol where condo prices start at $7,300,000, the gourmet addition is Café Sol. This oceanfront aperitivo bar is where residents can snack on homemade biscotti, tea sandwiches and Aperol spritzes throughout the day. There’s never a call for “check, please”—that’s included as part of the monthly maintenance fee.

It’s true that new Stockton developers will think twice before jumping on the residents-only restaurant route, which is admittedly an expensive amenity. Any Stockton restauranteur will readily agree with the real estate consultant quoted in the Journal. If quality isn’t top-notch, “the restaurant will not get used much.”

Yet the idea of including some form of enhanced food availability—whether it’s a posh owners-only eatery, a common facility for cooking club get-togethers, or an HOA-sponsored meal delivery service—may one day become an accepted Stockton real estate trend. The frenetic pace of daily life does seem to open that possibility.

I offer more immediate relief from the many time-consuming aspects of any upcoming Stockton real estate ventures. Call me anytime!

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Your Stockton Agent and the Importance of Chitchat Easy Communication with Your Stockton Agent—It’s Vital! An Often-Overlooked Key to Choosing an Agent

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!    

Why Stockton HOAs and Condo Associations Differ Stockton HOAs and Condo Associations: What to Know Condo & Homeowners’ Associations: Differences Matter

 

If you have ever checked out the latest Stockton real estate listings, you noticed monthly expense items for some of them listed as “Homeowners’ Association” (HOA) or “Condo Association” fees. Both are the monthly sums that any new owner will be required to pay in addition to property taxes.

It’s easy to lump them both together in the same mental category because they are so similar in character: each represents an expense item that neighbors pay to defray common maintenance, repair and other expenses that affect everyone. But there are major differences between the two—and they’re not just legal fine points. In fact, being aware of the differences will lead to a greater likelihood that you’ll take one particular action that can prove to be terrifically beneficial.

Without going into too much detail about all the possible variations of Stockton HOAs and CAs, the biggest differences are due to the differing scopes of ownership. Homeowners Associations usually consist of residences where the individual owners each own their homes and land. They may share many or few common areas. In one HOA, that common area might consist of a shared Olympic-size swimming pool, clubhouse, patios, gardens, etc. In a different  HOA, the shared property could be little more than an entry island with a sign and some flower beds.

In a Condominium Association, the mutual obligations are usually more extensive due to the nature and scope of ownership and obligations. The condo owner may own his or her unit, but shares in responsibility for the building and grounds. (If you’re thinking, where does the building end and the unit begin, you’re beginning to understand how important the distinctions can be).

What was that “one particular action” I mentioned—the one that can “be terrifically beneficial”? If you are seriously considering any of today’s Stockton condominium offerings, or those that list an HOA, that action is simple—be absolutely certain you have received a current copy of the rules and regulations that go with that property.

Key word here is “current.”

Both Homeowners’ Condo Associations can be terrific assets in protecting what is about to become your major investment—but if you wait until signing day to get a copy, they can also expose you to expenses you never expected.

When you take me on as your Stockton real estate agent, I’ll be there every step of the way to make sure you get all the information and expertise you need. They all will be part of how you make the right decisions to land you in your next Stockton home!

Why is Friday’s Boring Mortgage Rate News Good for Stockton? Friday’s Mortgage Rate News Extends Stockton’s Winning Streak When is “Boring” Good News for Stockton Home Loans?

 

 The Mortgage News Daily gives the home loan industry’s workaday professionals something to read with their first cup of coffee. It catches them up on the latest numbers from the previous day’s activity and provides a running commentary on the why’s and what next?’s for mortgage issuers.

 

Friday’s edition gave Stockton homeowners, soon-to-be homeowners, and those soon to be home sellers ample reason to head into the Labor Day weekend with renewed confidence in the current state of affairs. Friday’s lead headline in the MND provided the reason: “Mortgage Rates End Week Near Best Levels.”

 

The opening sentence began, “Mortgage rates caught a break…” and went on to explain that an array of underlying reasons continues to prevent home loan rates from rising. That extends a near-freeze in the low rates that has recently prevailed. Despite widespread expectations that home loan payments would rise throughout this year, rates have actually moved downward since April.

 

And lately?

 

Yawn.

 

Commentator Matthew Graham summarized the plight of journalists who cover the loan industry: “If You Like Boring,” his headline read, “You’re in Luck!”  “Mortgage rates didn’t move at all again today,” he groused. “If we broaden our definition of ‘sideways’ just a bit, we can legitimately fit most of 2018 into the same conversation.”

 

Stockton home buyers and sellers might commiserate with the writer’s creative distress—but not so heartily that they would wish it otherwise. As long as the current Stockton mortgage rates stay mired in the lower half of the historical range, they result in the kind of more affordable monthly payment quotes that widen the ranks of eligible buyers. It means nothing but good news, too, for Stockton home sellers—and another sound reason to give me a call!

Take Future Stockton Home Prices into Account National Home Prices Jump 37% Since 2014 Future Stockton Home Prices Subject to Scrutiny

 

When Stockton homeowners sit down to plot out their household’s long-range financial plan, the value they ascribe to their Stockton home usually deserves a leading role. As research firm Pulsenomics puts it, “changes in single-family home values can have profound impacts on consumer balance sheets.” Yet it’s often the case that homeowners assume that their home’s value is its apparent equity—the home price they paid less their mortgage’s remaining principal.

Stockton homeowners will be pleased to find that using that measure is almost certain to result in a substantial underestimate. Since the historical norm is for residential home prices to rise, if you are trying to plot a realistic long-term picture of your family’s financial future, a middle-of-the-road estimate would take those likely price rises into account.

The problem is: who knows how much those values will actually rise? For instance, what if there were another international financial meltdown—with a real estate slump like the last one? Wouldn’t it be safer just to assume the worst—static Stockton home prices? Safer, perhaps—but not likely more accurate.

For the most sophisticated projections, a better look at the direction of home prices is published quarterly in Pulsenomics’ “U.S. Home Price Expectations Survey.” The Survey represents the combined opinions of more than 100 economists, investment strategists, and market analysts. They have been publishing those projections for five years now—which is noteworthy since we can now check back to see if they were overly optimistic (or the opposite).

In January of 2013, the mean expectation of the Pulsenomics experts was for a 5-year increase in home prices of a whopping 22.0%. That number seems pretty optimistic, and sure enough, a year later, in 2014 the experts dropped it to a more realistic 19.7%. The following years showed similar moderation, until by this January, their median prediction was for U.S. home prices to rise by 18.2% by 2023.

Of course, nobody can know exactly what the future will bring, so holding their feet to the fire and expecting exactitude would be unrealistic. But how did they do?  drumroll, please:

As for that first 2013 seemingly over-optimistic expectation of 22%: the actual rise in home prices has been 37% (the Case-Shiller national average)! We’ll have to wait a bit to see how the next year turns out…but I think we’ll have more terrific news.

The long and the short of it is that for practical planning purposes, don’t assume your Stockton home investment will be wind up being worth what you paid (or will pay) for it. Realistic expectations can be quite a bit sunnier—and definitely, a solid reason to make Stockton home ownership a cornerstone of your family’s long-term financial future. To get started turning that goal into reality, please don’t put off giving me a call! 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stockton Homeowners Share in Home Equity Rebound Stockton Home Equity: Part of a $3 Trillion Rebound! Imagining the Unimaginable Rebound in Home Equity

 

We’ve all witnessed the remarkable rebound in real estate values—and last week, the scale of that recovery was the subject of a CNBC commentary. “A growing number of homeowners are in the money,” it found; then, “Homeowners are sitting on trillions in tappable home equity.Trillions? That’s a number that sounds quite impressive—but also hard to grasp.

 

Trillions? That’s a number that sounds quite impressive—but also hard to grasp.

 

To get a handle on the scale of the nation’s real estate recovery in terms that are more meaningful to Stockton readers, it calls for some imagination. Here’s a try:

If you think of a $345,000 home (today’s U.S. average)—and then of a neighborhood with 30 of those homes per block—a billion dollars’ worth of home equity would consist of 100 blocks of such homes. For [territory], that’s would be a pretty large neighborhood, all right; but if you close your eyes and picture such an imaginary hundred-block neighborhood, you’ll have an approximation of what a billion dollars’ worth of real estate looks like.

It’s much harder to get a grip on a trillion dollars’ worth of home equity.

One way is to start out by imagining a magnificent estate owned by a titan of industry. This place has 50 acres of magnificently manicured landscaping; several guest houses; a subterranean garage capable of housing 20 antique autos in an appropriately climate-controlled environment; and an infinity pool overlooking an acre-size manmade pond (there are probably a couple of swans in the pond). Its nine bedrooms (they are actually suites) are part of the 50-room main house. Since it’s in a fabulously exclusive neighborhood, the estate’s value is reasonably pegged at $50,000,000 (fifty million dollars).

So all you have to do is to close your eyes and picture a neighborhood with 20 of those per block—and then, a thousand of those blocks.

There’s your trillion dollars in home equity!

The reason this has anything to do with reality—or with home equity in [territory]—is that Stockton homeowners are part of CNBC’s original headline calculation from last week. Between 2012—the bottom of the financial crisis—and today, homeowners across the country are the recipients of a trillion dollars’ rise in home equity.

To be precise, the rebound in home equity actually comes to three trillion dollars! That’s “tappable equity”—dollar values potentially available via refinancing or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). With mortgage rates currently lower than they were a year ago, it’s not surprising that cash-out refinances have been growing in popularity.

Stockton may not have any 1,000-block neighborhoods full of 50-acre estates, but we do have a lot of homes whose equity has burgeoned since the low point of the financial crisis. I’m proud that I’ve been able to help many of my clients participate in a share of that good news story. For your next Stockton real estate venture, I hope you’ll give me a call!

 

Is the Actual Cost of a Home in Stockton Still a Bargain? The Actual Cost of a Home Today: Surprising Facts Comparing the Cost of Stockton Homes Today vs. Yesterday

        With home prices and interest rates on the rise, you’re likely to assume that the cost of that next Stockton home you’re thinking about buying has made it a financial stretch—especially compared with “the good old days.” But news stories tend to omit the effect of rising incomes and actual inflation on the real cost of a home in today’s market—which turns out to be something of a bargain!

A recent calculation may not hold true for everyone, of course—nor does it apply to the cost of every Stockton home—but the details make sense when you think about them. The comparisons are from a study by Zillow Research on housing affordability across the U.S.

Researchers were looking into how much havoc the rise in U.S. mortgage interest rates has wreaked on affordability for the typical family. They assumed a current standard 30-year fixed rate of 4.3% (although according to Fannie Mae, last Friday’s average was actually lower: 4.17%). Since the best way to track the cost of a home is by determining the percentage of income needed to buy a home, all that’s required is the typical home’s price, the average mortgage interest rate, and median home buyer’s income.

Using that formula, a graph of the outcome shows that overall, the historic percentage of median income required to buy a median-priced home is 21%. In the last quarter of 2017, the same measure came to only 15.7%—just three-quarters of the chunk of income that buyers have had to pay in the past.

Of course, unless you are a median person (I’ve never met one of those) buying a median-priced Stockton home, what really matters is the specifics: what you agree to pay for a home; what your own actual income is; and the mortgage interest rates you are offered. Those three elements will make up the cost of the Stockton home you’ve set your sights set on—the price is just one component. And if prices continue to rise as anticipated, by the time interest rates hit 5%, the percentage of median income needed to buy a median-priced home will still be 2½% lower than the historical average.

In other words, getting down to the specifics is the only way to determine what is actually affordable in today’s market. Give me a call—helping you with the details is part of my job!

 

Sense-sational Real Estate: Selling to All the Senses Stockton Real Estate Sales Using the Other Four Senses Real Estate Sales: Don’t Forget the Other 4 Senses!

 

When we think of traditional Stockton real estate sales scenarios, most of us would initially picture the photos that dominate the MLS listing and the information we read onscreen. Then, if those impressions were positive, the next step would be seeing how well the property presents itself as a prospective buyer approaches (the renowned “curb appeal”).

 

Notice that every impression up until the next step, positive or negative, had been exclusively visual. In fact, I think most of us think of real estate sales scenarios in exclusively visual terms. That’s not wrong—the majority of what impresses prospective buyers comes to them through their eyes.

 

But, whoa! Seeing is important (in fact, “seeing is believing”) but sight is only one of the five senses. Stockton homeowners who are preparing their homes for market can also benefit from thinking about using the other four senses to make a winning impression. It may sound like an unusual way to look at Stockton real estate selling, but when you think about it, a useful one!

 

Examples:

 

SOUND: when your visitors open the front door, if it squeaks, the quality message is less than satisfactory. Likewise for stair railings that creak, air conditioners that squeal, or windows that rattle in the wind. On the more positive side, when a musical background is present (but not too loud), it can supply a pleasant aura for a showing or open house.

 

SMELL: kitty boxes—well, you know! Bathrooms, bedrooms, and other living areas benefit from the kind of quality scent enhancement that can be provided by candles or aroma dispensers. And floral bouquets add more than just visual appeal.

 

TOUCH: back at the beginning, if the prospective buyer opens a front door handle that feels loose and flimsy, that’s a first impression that sends the wrong message. Likewise, if the door feels lightweight, it communicates an entirely different feel than one that’s heavy and substantial. That’s why consumeraffairs.com rates front door replacement among the top two tweaks for ROI (Return on Investment) for sellers. Any feature that would-be buyers might touch—from sticky light switches to obstinate sliding doors—are also worth fixing before visitors arrive.

 

TASTE: this sense is by far the least relevant. But I’ve seen tired prospects whose energy perks up considerably at the sight of a welcoming plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!

 

When you are selling your Stockton home, it’s not a bad idea to be keenly aware that your home’s next owners will be using all their senses when they visit—even if they aren’t really aware of that. Another sensible idea: for any and all Stockton real estate sales matters, do give me a call!