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!

Wealth Management Gets Stockton Home Buyers’ Attention

No matter what their current financial profile, home buyers in Stockton share knowledge that the value of the property they are acquiring will become a significant entry whenever their family’s net worth is reckoned.

For those whose total in that category weighs in at $5 million or more: great! You’re considered “ultra-wealthy” according to the Spectrum Group, a wealth management research organization that defines “ultra high net worth” as households with at least that figure.

On the other hand, for home buyers in Stockton who are laser-focused on a more immediate financial task at hand (finding, qualifying for and buying the perfect Stockton home), some relevant research suggests that their ultra-wealthy fellow home buyers might be able to share some attitudes that aren’t often explored— namely, that when it comes to a family’s wealth, a goodly share of attention needs to be spent on more than just accumulating it.

According to this month’s article in CNBC.com, building enduring wealth “…can be a challenge even for super wealthy families, many of whom have had their financial success created by one generation and do not want to see it lost by their successors.” Put another way, the wealthiest tend to share a belief that just reaching the ranks of the top 1% percent isn’t enough. They say it’s vital to know how to think about wealth; how to spend it, keep it, and pass it on.

Regular, non-ultra-wealthy Stockton families may not have to worry about some of these ideas (for instance, most of us aren’t tempted to define our identities solely by the heft of our bank accounts)—but a couple of notions can be useful when we are in the process of buying a house:

Put the children to work: involve your children in the process and help them understand the considerations behind a big purchase like buying your Stockton home.

Agree on a family strategy: even if this will be the first Stockton home to be owned by the family, discuss its place in the long-term strategy. Is it intended to serve as a starter home, a transitional home, or a permanent home base?

Give BackOnce the move into a new neighborhood is accomplished, establishing a comfortable place in the community can be cemented by identifying Stockton charitable programs that strike a responsive chord. The ultra-wealthy call this creating an “abundance mentality”—it’s the same truism that tells us that donors benefit as least as much as recipients.

Buying a home is one of the transformative passages in life. Whatever your current financial profile, if you’re looking to buy or sell here in Stockton this summer, I’m here to help with your real estate needs.  Call me anytime!

 

6 Clever Tips Lighten Stockton Home Sales Prep

If you’ve been living in your Stockton home for more than a few years, you know that there are some corners that don’t get regular cleaning attention because they’re (let’s be honest) too grungy to deal with. They’re beyond the scope of what anybody wants to face as a regular housekeeping chore.

If you’re beginning to consider listing your Stockton place, you know you’ll have to get around to dealing with some long passed-over details. But that’s not something to look forward to. In fact, putting these messy details off is a leading cause of SREP—Serial Real Estate Procrastination!

Into the breach comes Houselogic. As part of their “Most Annoying Household Problems Solved” series, the NAR’s website Houselogic really outdid themselves this time. Here are six new tips I’d never seen before. A few are so clever they made me smile:

  1. Stove Burners. The fused layers of deeply incinerated debris (aka “that gunky mess”) encrusting the burners won’t come off by normal dish detergent soaking. Houselogic’s no-scrubbing solution: soak them one-by-one in a plastic bag containing ¼ cup of ammonia. Overnight, job done!
  2. Carpet Stains. For splotches set into the carpet, squirt one part vinegar to three parts water on the stain, lay a cotton cloth on top, then set your iron to the hottest steam setting and run it over the cloth for 10 seconds. If the stain isn’t dyed in, it will transfer up onto the cloth.
  3. Range Hood Vent Filters. Boil each in a large pan, slowly adding ½ cup of baking soda. It should take about 5 minutes on each half (they’re too big to do in one submersion). Be cautious about dumping the water, though: you don’t want the grease to clog your drain.
  4. Tub Grunge. This is an awkward (sometimes, backbreaking) job that’s solved with a self-described “genius idea.” Just attach a scrubbing tool to your hand drill. You can make one yourself using a kitchen scrubby—or buy any commercial drill attachment that guarantees it won’t scratch surfaces.
  5. Metal Floor Grates. Run aluminum or steel grates through the dishwasher’s water-only cycle.
  6. Clogged Showerheads. (This one sounded vaguely familiar). Tie or tape a baggie of vinegar over the showerhead. Leave it overnight, being sure the little holes are all submerged.

“Deep cleaning” is on every Stockton home sales preparation punch list—an important part of prepping your house to get a top-of-the-market reception. For a wide-ranging home sales strategy chat, give me a call anytime!

 

Sell Your Stockton Home by Neutralizing the Nuances

It may sound paradoxical, but one proven way to sell your Stockton home is to make it boring…or at least, a little bit more boring.

The principle here stems from buyer psychology—specifically, the difference between a house that would make a great tourist attraction and one whose first impression is more apt to lead to a sale. At first blush, the flashy version might seem to be not only memorable, ­­­but more valuable as well. But that’s not typically true.

A potential buyer can remember your house in two different ways. One memory might be of striking red walls and purple tile that call to mind images from an architectural magazine. That sort of memory will be vivid, but it doesn’t necessarily help to sell your home. A different type of memory could be of a living room that is just the right size for a couch, with a bare spot over the fireplace mantle that would be perfect for…whatever—the specifics will be personal for every potential buyer.

To sell your home, the odds are good that the second impression will sell your Stockton home to more prospects than will the first. The better result is to leave buyers with the mental image of a home they could see themselves living in—rather than one they might admire as a design exhibit.

The difference between these two types of memory is highlighted in an analysis published by Consumer Reports. Their research found that homes painted in neutral colors sell at a premium of up to $5,000 more than similar homes painted in brighter, more distinctive colors. Results came from an analysis of thousands of photographs of homes for sale. Today’s neutrals tend toward greys, taupes, and beiges—but even when fashions change, the underlying wisdom remains. The principal reason these colors help sell a home is that they form unobtrusive backgrounds to buyers’ own imaginations—in other words, “boring” becomes “memorable” when it allows onlookers’ own imaginations to take over. Neutral colors accomplish that by creating a canvas onto which potential buyers can paint their own masterpieces.

First impressions are important for laying the groundwork, but it’s your Stockton real estate agent who makes all the difference when it comes to following through. That’s where I come in. Give me a call!

 

Unexpected Answer for Timing Your Stockton Listing To Hit The Market!!

 If this is going to be a year of upsets, the rules for when Stockton listings are best initiated might be primed to fly out the window. There’s no guarantee that 2020’s Stockton listing performance will bend the rules, but if the National Association of Realtor’s® news site is right, it’s a definite possibility.

The history has long demonstrated that the most opportune time of year to add your home to the Stockton listings is during the peak spring and summer seasons. When you look at the volume of home sales through most years, those months do look inviting. There are exceptions, but for the most part, spring and summer regularly excel in sales volume.

Last week, the Realtor® website ran an article in their Trends area headlining that “This Year, Sellers May Benefit from Listing Early In The Season.” Their reasoning was short and sweet—citing recent facts, then drawing a conclusion that’s the opposite of what they seem to indicate. Here are the facts:

1.      Supply. It’s a fact that from one end of the country to the other, the residential inventory (supply) is starkly reduced. According to the NAR, “Inventory levels at the beginning of 2020 are at multiyear lows.” Thus, homeowners who list now “face very little competition.”

2.      Demand. Even though the late fall and winter months have traditionally shown weak demand, the threat of mortgage rate hikes­­—then the actual rises­—may have been all that was needed to instill a growing sense of urgency among buyers. Early results reflect buyer demand that’s “abnormally strong” for this time of year.

3.      Optimism. Even with consumer confidence on the fence, once the spring/summer buying season gets going in earnest, Stockton buyers might find themselves in “buying competition” that will “get fierce.”

These trends are all well-documented. Yet at first blush, they seem to argue against listing your home now. After all, wouldn’t it still make sense for to follow the traditional dictum­—to hold off until that fierce competition takes hold? The answer that flips such a conclusion is found in the fourth fact:

4.      Sellers Will be Buyers. Overwhelmingly, national surveys suggest that the homeowners behind most Stockton listings will also become buyers once they have sold. In fact, an estimated 85% of American home sellers plan to buy another home! If that’s correct, it’s not surprising that they’ll be grateful if they are quick to sell into this winter’s market. That will not only help them get a jump on the crowd come springtime—it will also lengthen the odds that they can cash in on mortgage rates before they rise substantially. All of a sudden, the net advantage to listing early could be substantial!

The short takeaway is that simply accepting the old common wisdom warrants a second look in 2020. If you are one of our Stockton homeowners who automatically presumed the wisdom of waiting a while longer to join the Stockton listings, it might pay to reassess. Give me a call if you’d like to discuss how your plans fit into today’s broader residential picture­—and how to take maximum advantage of this year’s market!

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buying a House in Stockton, First Step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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