Easter in Stockton—Why So Late This Year? This Year’s Stockton Easter: Why So Late? Stockton Easter: Is It Really Late This Year?

Stockton real estate agents are like everyone else when it comes to Easter Sunday. There is the holiday part, the spiritual part, and the kids-searching-for-hidden-Easter-eggs part. The day can also serve as a sort of mental signpost that reads “Spring is here!” (or something like that). When I think back to major events that happened around this time in years past—like memorable spring vacations—Easter is usually the clearest mental reference point: This happened just before Easter or that happened a couple of weeks after Easter. I bet I’m not alone in that.

But for Stockton real estate agents, this time of year has some other, distinctly professional overtones. It’s the time of year when keeping a clear calendar becomes more necessary than ever because the phones start ringing like crazy, and the scheduling calendar needs constant vigilance lest appointments overlap (we don’t let that happen).

Now that we’re on the subject of Stockton’s Easter and this year’s calendar, doesn’t it seem as if the 2019 edition arrives later than usual? Checking into this yielded two pieces of information—one of which is relevant.

  • The date for Easter moves from year to year—it’s dependent on the lunar calendar, falling on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (no wonder regular people have to go to Wikipedia to figure it out). That puts it anywhere from late March to mid-April. So yes, this year it’s a little earlier than usual.
  • The second piece of Easter trivia was just something that’s always seemed a little bit irregular about the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll. Isn’t it actually more of a hunt than a roll? The answer seems to be that it’s both. A few lucky tots get to push their Easter eggs down designated ribbon-designated lanes using what look like colorful spatulas, but all the others get to stampede across the lawn, snatching up eggs (or wooden replicas of eggs) in complete and utter child pandemonium.

I hope you and any little ones with whom you are lucky enough share this year’s Stockton Easter have a delightful, appropriately colorful Sunday. But should any questions arise about how the Easter Bunny happens to have baskets full of chicken eggs, please don’t call me—I’ll never figure that one out. For Stockton real estate matters, on the other hand, please do call!

Zeroing in on Valuable Stockton Spot House Improvements Spot House Improvements Yield Disproportionate Rewards Targeting Oft-Overlooked Spot House Improvements

 

Spot house improvements can be most necessary in living areas that whisper, “I’m a refugee from the 80’s.” Examples are rooms with popcorn ceilings; with faded green or pink bathroom tiles (really more like refugees from the 50’s); or with dark, battered wall paneling. You don’t have to be a single-minded fashionista to appreciate how such artifacts from days of yore can downgrade any Stockton home’s appeal.

You don’t have to be planning to sell your home to enjoy the benefits from what you might call a few ‘strategic spot improvements.’ These are limited renovations aimed at specific areas of a house—improvements that might not seem essential to Stockton homeowners after years of living with them, but which fresher-eyed visitors see as evidence of a property in need of renewal.   

·       The single most called-upon ammunition for duty in spot improvement is just what you’d expect: paint. A gallon or two can revitalize a room, either by a change in color or simply by brightening walls dimmed through decades of service. When it comes to scarred wall paneling, sometimes paint alone can provide the simplest spot solution—a true gift, since it means avoiding a teardown. Today’s improved primers may even allow for skipping all but some light sanding between coats. Another area where paint or stain can be transformative is in the renewal of neglected kitchen cabinetry.

·       Removing a pre-1980 popcorn ceiling can also be tackled as a do-it-yourself proposition. Experts recommend scraping a test area first to see if it comes off without wetting—if so, removal will be easy. If wetting helps, the job will be slightly messier. But if water doesn’t soak in, it means that paint has been over-sprayed. That means tougher scraping—and a decision on whether professional help should be called. If a pre-1980 ceiling is suspected, lead-based paint or asbestos could be present. Stockton hardware stores sell inexpensive EPA-approved test kits for both. If either answer comes up positive, it means calling in the professionals—average cost is between $1 and $2 per square foot. Or just leaving the popcorn in place (it’s harmless if undisturbed).

·       As you would think, those 50’s era colored tiles call for a professional solution. But they may not need to be replaced. Stockton professionals can save as much as 50% of what demolition and replacement would cost. New methods have been developed that allow tiles to be reglazed or refinished, and grout cleaned or replaced—then sealed for permanence.

The result of a few strategic spot house improvements can be remarkably cheering as we emerge from the dark days of winter. And the value in real estate terms can also be disproportionate. Especially if this spring finds you gravitating toward a change in your Stockton real estate footing, now is a good time to give me a call to discuss the many options at your disposal.

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

Today 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? Selling a Home in Stockton and the St. Pat’s Day Connection St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and 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!

March Happenings Populate Stockton Real Estate Calendar   March: Much More than Just a Month for Stockton Real Estate!   Stockton Real Estate and the Many “Months” of March

This March has been such a busy one on the Stockton real estate calendar that I thought it would be a good idea to double-check everything just to be certain I wasn’t overlooking any important happenings.

It wasn’t just that the first day of spring on the 20th is the traditional start of what’s regularly the busiest time of year for Stockton real estate activity. This is a reliable phenomenon, further reinforced by the 61 million results you get when you Google “Spring Real Estate Selling Season.” To be accurate, the National Association of Realtors® fudges a little by calling spring and summer the hottest seasons for real estate activity—but it turns out they are pointing to the fact that many sales initiated in spring close during the summer (which is when people prefer to move).

March has historically been the month the Feds roll out new mortgage programs for first time home buyers and decide what rates should be set for the rest of the year.

Then there was also St. Patrick’s Day (although that has a less-than-convincing effect on Stockton real estate activity). There is March Madness, in which basketball plays havoc with more than just television schedules. You could say that it plays hob with appointment times for many Stockton home showings, since the last five minutes of most of the games take at least half an hour.

Just in case the calendar has even more events that might affect Stockotn real estate, we thought we’d better check to be certain we haven’t overlooked any upcoming happenings.

We found out we can relax.

True, this March is Optimism Month, which is certainly thematically in tune with the positive spring real estate outlook (speaking of ‘in tune,’ March is also Music in Our Schools Month and Play the Recorder Month).

It’s International Ideas Month, which, for anyone who’s been following the headlines, is certainly arriving in the nick of time. For those who are, internationally speaking, prone to sticking to their old ideas, March is also International Listening Awareness Month. It’s Mirth Month as well as Humorists are Artists Month. It’s also Noodle Month (does this have a connection with Mirth Month?), Peanut Month, and National Nutrition Month.

In addition to minding nutrition, this is a month for safety: it’s National Collision Awareness Month, as well as National Cheerleading Safety Month. It turns out, there are another couple of dozen other Months that are taking place right now, but most have little to do with buying and selling homes.

What seems better connected to Stockton real estate is the fact that this is also Umbrella Month, although it’s too early to know the precipitation total for the whole month. It hasn’t prevented many showings or open houses, for sure. In any case, if you are thinking of taking advantage of the Spring Selling Season, it’s also a terrific month to give me a call!

Moving into a New Stockton House? Warm it up! Stockton Housewarming Traditions have Deep Roots Moving into a New Stockton House Calls for Some “Warming”

It could hardly be a greater occasion—the move into a new Stockton house! Marking the moment in some unique way must be some sort of universal compulsion. It certainly stretches far beyond our shores (and back in time thousands of years).

Some Stockton new house owners mark the occasion by throwing a housewarming party—a tradition rooted in the days when every able-bodied villager would have been a ready volunteer in the dwelling’s construction. The proud new householder would be expected to host a celebratory feast in appreciation to their neighbors.

Today’s typical new homeowners are vastly more likely to be new arrivals to the neighborhood, so the warming of a new Stockton house is likely to be a considerably less crowded affair. Even now, though, after spotting moving van activity, some of the neighbors may stop by to introduce themselves. They’re likely to echo the past, bearing a housewarming gift as a welcoming gesture.

Today, that’s often a tin of cookies or a home-baked pie—but for a few of the more tradition-minded, it might be one of the ancient ones from a far-flung corner of the globe. If you are planning on moving into a new Stockton home anytime soon, don’t be surprised if you’re on the receiving end of one of these time-honored housewarming gifts:

  • Bread and salt. From Russia, when the first items brought into the home are a loaf of bread (banishing hunger) and salt (bringing wealth and hospitality), an abundant future is guaranteed.
  • Holy thread. In Thailand, tying a piece of thread around the wrists of family members assures good luck.
  • Burning sage. Native Americans cleared out negative energy by lighting dried sage and directing the smoke throughout the house. To be most effective, turn off all the electronics (if the cable isn’t hooked up yet, that should be easy!)
  • Boiled milk and rice. From India, this is the easy one: boil milk and rice in a pot until it overflows to guarantee purity and long life. (The harder version: bring a cow inside).

Around the globe, there are literally dozens of other luck-attracting gifts—but of those, the most widespread one is probably the simplest:

  • A candle. Light it on the first night to ward off evil spirits or (with green candles) to court prosperity. Universally, you should allow it to burn all the way down. This (or lighting the fireplace on the first night) is likely the literal origin of the warming in housewarming.

The move into a new Stockton house always marks the beginning of many new life adventures—and also the culmination of a successful real estate undertaking. I’m here to help you accomplish that from start to finish!

The Best Stockton Real Estate Agents Head Off “Surprises” The Best Stockton Real Estate Agents Help Minimize Headaches Four Fixes the Best Stockton Real Estate Agents Recommend

The topic of preventive maintenance seems particularly timely, given last week’s record-breaking polar vortex and the many tales of household plumbing disasters it spawned.

The best Stockton real estate agents do more than just represent their selling clients in the marketing, negotiation, and documentation of their homes’ sale—they also roll up their sleeves to make the entire process less anxiety-producing. One of the ways the best Stockton real estate agents keep the process on an even keel is to offer advice on heading off surprises—especially the havoc that a maintenance breakdown can cause when showings are imminent.

There are several areas that Stockton households can be threatened by—and you don’t have to have your house on the market to benefit from preventing them. Last month, the National Association of Realtors pointed out a batch of home maintenance areas that need attention—and four of them, if neglected, could cause major headaches:

  • Water heater spill. Water heaters can suddenly cease to function—or even flood an area if corrosion is rampant. The preventive measure many Stockton homeowners aren’t even aware of is to “flush” it. Just turn off the power or gas to the heater, open a hot water tap elsewhere for a few minutes to lower the temperature in the heater, then put a bucket under the water heaters drain valve and drain until no sandy stuff is in it. Be careful—the water might still be hot.
  • Test for leaks. Since even slow leaks can cause major damage behind walls, it’s worthwhile to be sure none are going on. Read your water meter, don’t use any water for four hours, then take another reading. If the readout has changed, you’ve got a leak.
  • Wash the clothes dryer’s lint screen. Additives from fabric softener and dryer sheets can gum it up. To remove any grease and oil, simply soak the screen in hot water and dishwashing detergent. You’ll save on your energy bill—and might even prevent dangerous overheating.
  • Refrigerator mold. The drip pan below your refrigerator can breed disgusting mold if it’s left unchecked. Remove the kick panel, trace the defrost drain line that runs down to it, and be sure it’s not clogged (if it is, you may be able to clear it with a wire coat hanger). Be gentle when you pull out the drip pan—too often, it’s full!

But the best Stockton real estate agents make it part of our service to bring our experience to bear in heading off the kind of household maintenance “surprises” that can push a homeowner’s stress level through the roof—double when your home is up for sale. To keep surprises at a minimum, give me a call!

 

Do Remodels Make Sense when Selling Your Stockton Home? Updates for Selling Your Stockton Home: The Numbers Are In! Sellers Ponder New Data Ranking Remodeling Project Returns

The numbers are in!

If you are among the local homeowners counting the days until Stockton’s hot selling season begins, unless your house is already in perfect showing shape, you might be pondering which—if any—possible remodeling projects would be wise to take on before you list.

The answers aren’t simple. The first consideration is the calculation for whether your property is likely to attract top dollar in its as-is condition. If not, you need a prospect’s-eye take on which areas are most likely to detract from the apparent overall value of the property. Then comes another factor: identifying which of those projects will go furthest in recapturing their cost.

Even if leaving everything as-is doesn’t inspire much confidence, it might be tempting to “test the market” just to see what happens. Unfortunately, the most common result is that offers (if any) will be lowered to reflect the cost you saved…less a premium, of course. Experienced bargain hunters look to be compensated for the value they’ll have to add.

A number of remodeling associations attempt to alleviate at least some of that guesswork via annual assessments. These survey current national data to compare average costs for remodeling projects with the average value they return at sale. These figures are difficult to pin down with precision, but the folks at remodeling.hw.net take on the challenge annually. As noted above, the numbers are in!

Their 2018 national survey names the top 4 remodeling projects earning the best returns:

  • Garage door replacements returned 98.3% of its average $3,470 outlay.
  • Manufactured stone veneer brought in 97.1% of its $8,221 cost.
  • Entry door replacements drew 91.3% of its $1,471 cost (specified: steel doors).
  • Deck additions returned 82.8% of an average $10,950 outlay.

Next in line were minor kitchen remodels, siding replacement, vinyl window replacement, and bathroom remodels—all of which averaged five-figure costs and all of which returned smaller percentages than the leaders. Stockton results could, of course, differ—but the national averages are food for thought.

Selling your Stockton home for the maximum price depends on marketing and presentation factors, too; yet everything begins with the value of the “product” being sold. I hope you’ll give me a call for feedback on what we are finding about what today’s Stockton buyers consider most important.

Why Don’t Stockton Homeowners Fear a Housing Bubble? Is There a Housing Bubble on Stockton’s Horizon? Stockton Homeowners Needn’t Fear the Sound of a “Pop!”

There is one persuasive reason why Stockton homeowners (and prospective homeowners) don’t hear much about the likelihood that a new “housing bubble” could be in the making.

For any Stockton homeowner who’s had the comfort of watching their property’s value grow steadily for years, a mere mention of the words “housing bubble” can squelch the enthusiasm. Even though real estate is “real” in a way few investments can equal, there was the last decade’s property value nosedive. Momentarily, at least, it rained on residential real estate nearly everywhere.

“Housing bubble” was the derisive term that described the previous run-up in prices that subsequently “popped” when sellers could no longer find buyers. A large part of the chaos was due to the home loan industry’s inability to finance mortgages at the previous valuations. In fact, for a while, even well-heeled buyers could scarcely find financing at any valuation.

In 2008, the bubble metaphor seemed especially apt because the “pop” came so abruptly. When things go south suddenly, it’s particularly unnerving. But today Stockton homeowners can take comfort in at least one reason why today’s circumstances bear little resemblance to what happened ten years ago.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association charts something called the “MCAI.” It’s a reliable measure of the availability of home loans, measured on a scale from 1 to 1,000. The higher the number, the easier it is for applicants to obtain home loans. A chart shows how, in the three years leading up to the height of the bubble, the MCAI traced an almost vertical line from 370 up to more than 850—which then nosedived to 100 in the following 20 months. You could almost hear the “pop.”

Looking at today’s much more comforting MCAI, it shows a shallow, nearly horizontal line extending from 100 to just 183. That’s what’s been happening over the last 10 years, from 2008 to today. No bubble on the horizon—it looks more like a stable foundation.

When credit it too easy to come by, true values can float upward without restraint—and the result is a “pop!” According to the Mortgage Bankers Association data, it looks like that lesson has been learned—and today’s Stockton homeowners can breathe easier as a result. Call me for expert guidance in today’s market!

Buying Your Stockton Home without Credit Confusion Buying Your Own Stockton Home Clearing Credit Confusion Cutting through “Kind of Confusing” Mortgage Credit Scoring

“It can be kind of confusing.” – Tom Quinn, V.P Business Development for myFICO in “The Scores That Matter in Mortgage Lending.

Unless you’re a buyer who falls into the all-cash category, once you begin to zero in on buying your next Stockton home, you will already have been paying close attention to your bill-paying reputation. You will probably have requested one or more of the free credit score reports the reporting agencies furnish free of charge once a year.

Mortgage lenders use Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax in differing ways, and since each follows its own system to rate your creditworthiness, their scores differ. And it’s more complicated than that because the agencies offers lenders different scores depending on the type of loan being considered.

In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau once ordered TransUnion and Equifax to pay millions of dollars in fines “for deceiving consumers about the usefulness and actual cost of credit scores they sold to consumers.” So Equifax’s Score 5 differs from its Score 8—and Experian’s Score 2 differs from TransUnion’s Score 4…and so on. FICO will sell consumers access to “28 of the most widely used” score versions—but when you try to find out which scores any given lender is currently using, you’re unlikely to come up with a useful answer.

That means that the successful way to navigate the system is common sense-based. As FICO acknowledges, although evolving credit models “keep pace with changing consumer credit behaviors,” all have a “similar underlying foundation.” All are designed to show the lenders who’s likely to pay obligations faithfully. So keep an eye on your reported scores, dispute any black marks that are inaccurate, and take all the well-publicized steps that create strong scores: use a variety of credit types, make payments on time, etc.

It’s as simple as that.

Establishing and maintaining strong credit is a career-long affair—and buying your next Stockton home will be a major hallmark in that career. I hope you’ll give me a call to help you reach that goal!