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!   

 

After Selling Your House, 4 Steps to Make Moving a Snap Packing for the Move: 4 Steps Reduce the Chaos 4 Packing Basics Make Moving Less of a Drag

 

 

 From your first thought that you might be selling your Stockton house until the day you accept the offer, most of us avoid dwelling too long on one less-than-delightful consequence of a successful sale: the dreaded move!

 

There may be rare individuals who see moving as a valuable opportunity to improve their household’s organization. That’s actually true, but hard to bear in mind as you think about dealing with all those items we’ve shoved into the back of closets and drawers. Even if you’ll be remaining in California—or even here in Stockton—a short distance usually isn’t enough to have us relishing the prospect of packing and moving. It’s a lot of backbreaking work, and even if you hire one of Stockton’s thoroughly professional moving operations, you know you’ll still have to deal with a lot of unknowns. Where do things go in the new house? In fact, where the heck are they, now that everything is in cartons? (it’s the not-finding part that can drive anyone nuts).

 

But the pleasure of successfully selling your house needn’t be dampened by the dread of moving if you follow a few basics that are agreed upon by veterans of the moving experience. They’re easy to remember, too:

 

 

1.     Pack rooms one at a time, labeling boxes with the name of the room and number of the box: Master Bedroom 1,2,3, etc. Even if your new home has a different collection of rooms, the key to finding everything is by recalling where they always used to be.   

2.     Use your smartphone to take quick snapshots of what’s inside the numbered boxes.

3.     Make a “Me First” box with paper towels, cleaners, trash bags, and paper plates and picnic utensils.  

4.     Pack a suitcase with the items you’d need for an overnight trip.

 

When you set about selling your Stockton house, one way to make the process easier is if you don’t let the prospect of moving dampen your outlook. Another way to boost your chance of quick success: call me. I know how to make it happen!

    

Stockton 4th of July Waiting-for-Dusk Time Fillers Six Stockton July 4th Time-Fillers for Celebration Pauses Cure for Stockton July 4th Conversation Doldrums

 

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!

 

Tips to Make the Most of Stockton Open House Visits Stockton Open House Attendees Follow Some Best Practices Rules for Canny Stockton Open House Visitors

 

Spring is Stockton’s prime selling season, which means that, in addition to the welcome appearance of springtime flowers, we can look forward to the seasonal crop of Stockton “Open House” signs that will be sprouting up around town. The Open House events they announce will draw a wide audience of visitors, from the inevitable looky-loos to the serious house hunters who are the target audience.

If you are among the latter group, you should know that the casual attitude most open house attendees adopt isn’t for you. As in all other life pursuits, the choicest rewards tend to end up with those who come prepared. Believe it or not, there are some best practices that experienced open house attendees follow:  

·       Show up early. An open house your opportunity to inspect a listed home without going through the formalities involved in a prearranged showing, but you want to learn as much about the property as possible. Later in the day, you’re likely to be part of a mob, so the agent-host won’t have time to show you around and answer your questions. The first visitors to any Stockton open house usually get the most attention.

·       Don’t be shy about asking questions. The agent won’t be put off—intelligent questioning is the hallmark of serious prospects. See if you can find out how motivated the owner is (determine if there have been asking price changes, days on market, etc.) and why the property is being sold.

·       Do be shy about answering questions. Be courteous—but don’t volunteer any more information about yourself and your house hunting than the minimum. The agent may well become someone you will be negotiating with: if so, there will be time enough to establish your bona fides.

You never know; any Stockton Open House can turn out to have been the introduction to your next home. Knowing that the potential is there will make you an “ace” Open House visitor who makes the most of every opportunity. You can also call me to notify you about upcoming open houses that match up well with your ‘must have’ list!

Beyond Listing Strategy: One for the Record Books Stockton Listing Blurbs and a Strategic Demonstration Last Month’s Jaw-Dropper & Stockton Listing Strategy

 

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 superheated 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!

6 Vacation Safety Tips to Keep Stockton Homes Unburgled Half a Dozen Vacation Safety Tips for Stockton Homeowners 6 Ways to Make Your Next Vacation Time Safety Time

 

 An overstuffed curbside mailbox, blazing porch light at noon, or a pile of newspapers out there by your front door all indicate a couple of things Stockton homeowners would do well to avoid. For burglars and housebreakers of all stripes, these are like lighted billboards announcing:

·        This Stockton homeowner is off somewhere enjoying a nice summer vacation; and

·        This afternoon and/or evening, there’s nobody home!

Every Stockton homeowner deserves an extended break now and then—and the July/August weather makes now the ideal time for many—but it’s also high season for break-and-enter artists (or just ‘enter’ artists, since 34% of burglars walk in through the front door). As long as we’re discussing the percentages, the common assumption that break-ins are midnight outings doesn’t hold water. Sixty-five percent of burglaries happen in broad daylight; most between 10am-3pm.

For vacation-bound locals, a few precautionary steps will do much to avoid a miserable discovery on your return home. If your home is currently listed, I think it’s a good idea to notify your agent to add a “Do Not Disturb Occupants” rider under the “For Sale” sign (whether it’s occupied or not!). In general, here are another six good vacation safety tips:

1.      Recruit some trusted neighborly help to keep an eye on the place and gather any mail and newspaper overflow. Most Stocktonites are delighted to help—and you should offer to reciprocate.

2.      DON’T POST VACATION PIX on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media haunt until you get back. High among leading vacation safety no-no’s are tweets like, “Off to Maui!”

3.      Think like a thief (that is, take a few minutes to case the joint). You’ll find yourself securing little-used doors and windows that are usually unlocked.

4.      Either unplug automatic garage doors that can be triggered by remote control frequency scanner or install a deadbolt lock.

5.      Do a better job of hiding the spare key. Thieves know all the common places. A spare key can be a vacation safety backstop if you need to phone someone to help get into the house in an emergency, but a spare key under the flowerpot is asking for trouble. Best hiding place: inside an envelope you entrust to your neighbor.

6.      Cancel deliveries. An Amazon Prime carton beside the front gate is a commonplace—but when one or more remain uncollected for more than 24 hours, it’s a virtual invitation to the unscrupulous.

Even for Stockton neighborhoods that are safer than most, vacation time burglaries can happen anywhere and anytime that basic vacation safety precautions aren’t observed. A few minutes of prevention should yield added peace of mind while you’re on the road as well as a pleasant return to a safely secured home. I’ll be standing by to help when you start planning the more extended kind of outing: to your next Stockton home!       

Stockton Real Estate and an Aging in Place Challenge Aging in Place: an Emerging Stockton Real Estate Topic For Stockton Homeowners 55 and Up: a Practical Issue

 While much attention is directed at the phalanx of youthful first-time homebuyers, the  Millennials and GenXers aren’t the only groups who are having a substantial influence on the direction of Stockton’s real estate market. Whether they are tagged “mature,” “aging,” or downright “elderly,” the over 55-crowd comprise an increasingly influential part of the marketplace. They are also facing some challenges when it comes to housing—and where there are challenges, people with solutions stand to profit.

Last month, Freddie Mac—the quasi-governmental entity that studies changing directions in the nation’s real estate market—published an eye-opening look at what’s been going on with our older homeowners. They conducted a survey that queried a representative sample of 4,886 homeowners aged 55 and older.

One finding that everyone in Stockton would probably expect was that the majority (about 2/3) of respondents hope to stay in their current homes. That proportion of the population hasn’t changed much over time. Another finding that no one in Stockton would be awfully surprised to hear was that a similar number—the same two-thirds—admitted that their present residences aren’t accessible to anyone with arthritis or limited mobility (not to mention the wheelchair-bound).

 In other words, the wish and the reality are, at least for the moment, not entirely in sync. The real estate solution boils down to the issue of retrofitting. Eighteen percent said they had never given retrofitting a thought, but most of the others who have considered it are weighing how they will finance what can cost thousands of dollars. A third said they will rely on savings to create a home where they will be able to “age in place;” 26% plan to use HELOCs or bank loans; and a smaller percentages will rely on cash-out refi’s, reverse mortgages, or family loans.

            Freddie Mac didn’t provide a prescriptive commentary on the likely real estate repercussions of this aging in place phenomenon, but it seems as if  Stockton contractors and sub-contractors will find themselves with a developing remodel category as the ranks of Stockton’s retirement-aged continue to grow. As far as Stockton’s real estate market is concerned, homes that are easily retrofitted should attract more of the 55+ crowd—as will single-level and ranch-style residences. Styles like multi-story Victorians which are generally associated with Gramma and Grandpop…well, perhaps not so much.

            Aging in place is something to which even youthful homeowners should give some thought—particularly if the greater plan is to live and work in Stockton for the long haul. Whenever real estate plans are under consideration, I hope you’ll give me a call to discuss how I can help!