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!

Art or Science? Tip for Making Stockton Homes “Happy” Happy Stockton Homes Draw Researchers’ Attention Making Stockton Homes Happy: 4 Scientific Tips

Creating a happy home would have to weigh in as among the most rewarding of all endeavors—and, you’d have to believe, one that requires a goodly dose of what lifestyle gurus call “the art of good living.” That’s why one general interest article in Realtor® Magazine deserved at least a double-take with its headline, “The Scientific Secrets of What Makes a Home Happy.”

Really? Happiness is not generally thought to be something that lends itself to scientific scrutiny: graphs and charts and mathematical precision. If there truly are scientific ways you can make Stockton homes happy ones, it promised to be worth looking into.

In fact, the piece did have a scientific basis—research findings that identified conditions that produce high levels of self-reported “contentment.” The “secrets” may not be shrouded in mystery, but four of the leading ones seem sensible:

  • Long commutes are mood killers. Researchers found a strong correlation between easy access to workplaces and contentment.
  • Clutter costs happiness. UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families found that “high densities of objects in the home” raised female subjects’ stress levels (measured by presence of the hormone cortisol). Men apparently didn’t notice.
  • Know your neighbors. Relationships with neighbors leads to a sense of well-being—as anyone in Stockton can probably tell you!
  • Pay down the mortgage. Even the researchers admit that this one is easier said than done, but when the “debt dwindles” the “mood rises.”

There was one tip to a happy home that I might question: “paint your walls green or yellow.” The source was a university in Holland—but since it might be true that color preferences vary by continent, there’s cause to hesitate. For the record, the study suggests yellow walls for playrooms (to spark “creativity and playfulness)” with green for bedrooms (engendering “comfort and serenity”).

One tip that’s no secret at all is that happy Stockton homes start with the choice of the right property—which is where I help. Do call!

Why are CES Debuts Important for Stockton Homeowners? For Stockton Gadget Lovers and Homeowners, a Heads Up! CES Provides New Ideas for Stockton Homeowners

Last Friday was the final day for the Las Vegas mega-trade exposition: the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Forward-thinking Stockton homeowners have learned to keep an eye on the CES because the public debuts of new appliances, gadgets, apps, and devices that take place there often wind up influencing Stockton real estate. Sometimes, in major ways.

Past examples are numerous. Not too long ago, giant screen TVs were oddities—but today it’s unusual to find a single Stockton house for sale that doesn’t have at least one room configured to suggest an inviting big screen entertainment area. CES is where the latest television advances showed up first—and America bought into big screen in a big way.

CES is also where the newest Bluetooth- and WiFi-ready devices have their coming out parties—important because some older Stockton houses with dense, WiFi-stopping flooring and walls need some serious signal-boosting setups before their listing can promote “WiFi throughout.”

The 2019 CES continued its tradition of providing a launchpad for devices intended to transform the way consumers live, work, and play—but this year did so without a lot of star power in the real estate department. There wasn’t that one single standout that could grab headlines major media attention, at least not one likely to transform the prospects for future Stockton houses for sale.

What did debut were a collection of incremental additions to the roster of gadgets and appliances that listen to you and talk to each other. These gizmos belong under the heading of “IoT” (the Internet of Things). On display was everything from smart refrigerators (by now, they are old hat) to smart bread-making machines (the Breadbot) that send and receive electronic signals.

Overall a surprising number of the new advances were in the voice assistance direction—aided by the industrial clout of the internet giants. The BBC noted the drift toward “voice assistance everywhere.” Their headline read, “Amazon and Google Assistant carve up tech expo.” That was demonstrated throughout the 2.9 million square feet of exhibits, with, as moneycontrol.com put it, voice assistance for everything “from TVs, toilets, or toys.”

As more and more daily household tasks are enabled by voice command—and collected into a single unified memory store—expect that to make inroads on what future prospects will expect in any Stockton house for sale. It’s a future where I hope you’ll give me a call!

What Do Stockton Homeowners Think about Fractional Luxury? Stockton Homeowners May Spot a Flaw in Luxury Home Trend Luxury Home Ownership Gets Fractional  

 

Stockton readers won’t be surprised to learn that anyone able to afford a multimillion-dollar vacation property is likely to be fairly adept at math. It turns out that an emerging trend in the highest end of the vacation home market also calls for some familiarity with fractions.

Closing out the year in style, the Wall Street Journal’s real estate section editors provided an interesting spread delving into the palazzos, castles, villas, and vineyards that make up the second homes of international luxury buyers. This would not ordinarily be especially newsworthy for WSJ readers since their Mansion section regularly offers similar photo spreads.

What made this December entry worthy of crossing over into the news area was what is becoming a growing trend for “some well-heeled nomads” investing in second and third luxury homes: fractional ownership.

The idea is that rather than investing millions in centuries-old luxury villas (there was an example in Tuscany) or , some wealthy vacationers are opting to “hop among bite-sized” private residences in which they have only partial ownership. Since they might visit these real estate acquisitions only a couple of times a year, they are opting to split ownership with similar-minded folks. This is known as fractional ownership strategy. A similar but slightly different incarnation is found in the private residence clubs. Both are gaining traction.

Since there is a myriad of ways the details can be handled, the article was scant on details. It pointed out that a residence club usually costs more than does a typical fractional property—but that higher price tag confers nicer amenities and fewer owners. Both typically have the advantage of dispensing with the tedious side of luxury vacation home ownership: opening up the house, power-washing the patio, etc.

But “there are downsides” which sound similar to complaints heard by some timeshare buyers. Partial owners can find that scheduling the weeks they will be allowed to visit their luxury home is determined by rotational systems that vary from year to year. More significantly for those with an eye to the investment value of their luxury getaways, the Journal quotes one observer regarding the difficulties of trying to sell a fraction of a ski area property. “Listing 1/10 of a ski condo can be as tough as trying to sell one-half of a pair of skis.

For properties for sale with less ambiguous ownership fractions of 1/1 (that’s “one-oneth”—better known as “100%”), check out this week’s Stockton listings, where there are real values to be found. Then call me!

Buying a House in Stockton: Which of the 5 Seasons is Best? Best of the 5 Seasons for Buying a House in Stockton Best of the 5 Seasons for Buying Stockton Houses

If you are a well-organized prospective Stockton house buyer, you have been weighing many factors as you prepare to start serious house hunting. One of the factors to consider is seasonal: that is, which of the five seasons is most favorable for buying a house?

It’s a fact that the most heavily favored among the seasonal choices is the traditional “peak selling season,” Spring-into-summer is the traditional busiest period for Stockton residential activity—and logic dictates that there must be persuasive reasons why so many Stockton house buyers opt to make their offers then. But persuasive counter-arguments also abound—both for selling and buying a house. Briefly, here are the most common leading reasons for choosing one season over another for buying a house:

Winter: least competition with fellow buyers, hence fewer prospects for a bidding war

Spring: traditional popularity brings the widest selection of new listings

Summer: most convenient time for travel and concentrated house hunting

Fall: most motivated sellers: highest volume of new asking price reductions

There they are—each of the seasons along with frequently cited reasons why they tend to foster the best buying opportunities. Since you have probably noted that I promised to discuss five rather than just four seasons, here’s that extra one (it’s my choice):

Your season: that is, the season when your financial preparations are complete, your professional and family schedules coincide to allow ample house hunting time, and it also feels like the time is right to get going to find your new Stockton house.

This fifth season is the one that holds the greatest prospects for buying the Stockton house you’ll be excited to call your own. The calendar provides good alternative reasons for choosing any of the traditional seasons, yet the perfect “house of your dreams” might crop up or disappear in any one of them. Your season will always be the best time to get serious about house hunting—and with any luck, that’s when you’ll land a terrific home.

P.S. That’s also the season when I’ll be standing by to supply maximum effort for the enterprise!

Does a Grinch Lurk for Stockton Home Buyers and Sellers? “Holiday Gift” (and a Grinch) for Stockton Home Buyers A Holiday Gift Surfaces for Stockton Home Sellers and Buyers

Last Thursday, the Washington Post described “a holiday gift” that could find its way to the doorsteps of Stockton home seller and buyers. The Post might not have identified him by name, but there was also a hint that the Grinch could be lurking in the shadows.

Real estate writer Kathy Orton’s headline story described an unanticipated December boon “for those looking to buy or refinance a home.” It was a package that materialized in the wake of wild fluctuations in the stock market. A variety of national and international worries had combined to trigger widespread “investor anxiety.” The result a headline echoed in the Mortgage Bankers Association daily newsletter:

“Mortgage Rates Plunge to Their Lowest Level in Three Months.”

For prospective Stockton home buyers who have been hoping to lock in favorable home loan offers, the news could have seemed worthy of a scene out of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But before that holiday standard’s joyous ending could be echoed in real life, home buyers who were slow to react might be cautioned that another Christmas classic might be called to mind before long. Realistically, the Post’s “holiday gift” could fall prey to a Grinch-like plot twist.

In this year’s real-life Stockton version, that villainous role might be played by the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee. “Markets expect another rate hike in December” according to one economist. If so, it could quickly reverse the rate slide. Already, the Post saw hints that “this recent decline may be over.”

Meantime, Danielle Hale of Realtor.com offered a prognosis that wavered midway between Dr. Seuss and Wonderful Life. “Although we don’t see it in this week’s data,” the Chief Economist said, “momentum has started to shift…”

Buying or selling Stockton homes isn’t something that’s hatched in the mind of a creative artist or Hollywood producer—but it can be influenced by plot twists like mortgage interest rate shifts. In every season, I make sure my clients stay informed of all events that impact the buying and selling of Stockton homes. When that becomes your own focus, do call me!