Saturday, June 16, 2007

San Joaquin Housing Market

I just received the latest housing stats for San Joaquin county and they continuing to climb on a weekly basis.

The market continues to be saturated with inventory as more homeowners are putting their houses on the market. For the following six cities (Stockton, Manteca, Lathrop, Salida, Tracy and Modesto) there are approximately 6,600 houses for sale.

Very few people are attending Open Houses. The hot weather is keeping them inside or at the pool. Those that are venturing out to Open Houses are mostly neighbors checking out what their potential "competition" looks like.

Most buyers are looking online to find their next house. By looking at MLS listings, a lot of houses just aren't showing well and buyers or their agents are writing these houses off as "don't bother showing". IS your house on that list?

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "Many buyers now have no sense of urgency and are willing to keep looking, hoping that persistence will yield a better deal. As a result, houses, especially at the lower end, are languishing on the market, while for sale signs and price cuts are multiplying." This seems to be what's happening in the central valley as well.

Here is a break down of the housing stats in San Joaquin and how many have been placed in escrow as of June 1st, 2007:
  • Stockton - 3007 (55 in escrow)
  • Modesto - 1784 (55 in escrow)
  • Tracy - 936 (27 in escrow)
  • Manteca - 578 (15 in escrow)
  • Lathrop -149 (5 in escrow)
  • Salida - 149 (5 in escrow)

Houses are still selling (162 so far this month). Why isn't yours?

If you want your house to sell, you must be proactive in your house sale. You must either reevaluate your marketing strategy or reduce your asking price.

Home staging is a great marketing tool! By having a home staging consultation, you can find out exactly why your house may not be impressing potential buyers and what you can do about it. By completing the suggested tasks on the Consultation report, your house will show better than houses being shown in an "as you live" state.

If you want to present your house in its best marketable condition especially for MLS listings, consider a Final Four Staging. This includes room by room consultation plus staging of the four main areas (living room, master bedroom, kitchen and bathrooms)

There is just too many houses on the market and buyers have the choice to sit and wait. How long can you wait? Call today.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How To Make Your House The Envy Of The Neighborhood

  1. Curb Appeal Counts - Most buyers get their first impression before they even walk through the front door. When potential buyers and their agent drives up to your residence, you want to make sure they don't continue driving! Make sure your yard is nicely manicured, free of weeds, trees trimmed back (added benefit - cutting back excessive tree branches allows light inside the house), and Christmas lights are removed (yep, some people leave theirs out all year long). Simple additions such as mulch and pretty flowers can brighten any front yard and make potential buyers want to come in and see your house. Also make sure you keep your yard well maintained until your house sells. Nothing worse than someone seeing your house after it's been on the market awhile and it is overgrown with a falling over or dangling sign. The Ghost Town look doesn't sell houses; it makes buyers run away as fast as they can!

  2. Clutter, Clutter Everywhere - Most homeowners and their agents don't go far enough when eliminating clutter. Rooms overstuffed with furniture, wall of pictures, shelves full of knick knacks, countertops full of personal products or appliances and overstuffed closets and drawers are considered cluttered. Pack up all personal items including pictures and trophies. Although these items may be personal for homeowners, they are a distraction to buyers and make the house seem small. Remember you are selling square footage, not your stuff! Pack it up for the move or get rid of it altogether. Great solution is turning some of your excess clutter into cash. Have a garage sale or sell it on Ebay.

  3. Clean It Up - No one wants to buy a place that looks like a pig sty! Most homeowners surface clean their house but to sell, the house must be white glove clean. Hire professional cleaning services if you must. Housecleaning, window washing and carpet cleaners are a great investment if you don't have the time or desire to do it yourself. If you want to do it yourself, make sure you pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. These two rooms are what sell houses. Other places you need to pay attention to are windows (inside and out), baseboards, light fixtures, ceiling fans and fingerprints from doors, drawers and cupboards. Clean it up as if the President of the United States or your picky mother in law were coming for a visit .

  4. Let There Be Light - A dark house feels small. An easy way to make rooms feel larger is to eliminate clutter. You are selling square footage and not your belongings after all. If you have dark colored walls, paint them a lighter color (dark wall colors make a room feel small). Remove heavy window treatments, cut back vegetation from the window areas and make sure windows are clean, inside and out to bring in natural light. Add more lighting to rooms such as table and floor lamps. These are all ways to lighten and brighten your house.

  5. Move It or Lose It - You want to accentuate your house's positive selling features. These features include great views, high ceilings and fireplaces. Create focal points which will draw a buyer's eye to these features by moving around your furniture. Most buyers have their furniture facing their TV rather than their fireplace or views. Fireplaces and beautiful views are what buyers are seeking. Not only does moving your furniture allow buyers to appreciate the great selling features of your house but it also allows buyers to envision themselves living there. If buyers don't love the way your place looks and feels you may lose a sale. NOTE: Do not, repeat DO NOT try to hide anything! If you have dirty carpet, do not put furniture or a throw rug over it. If you have a hole in the wall, do not try to cover it with a piece of furniture or a picture. Any problems or conditions within the house must be disclosed ahead of time. Do not be dishonest. You're setting yourself up for a lawsuit.

  6. Fix It or Forget It - If you have anything broken or missing, even something minor, fix it. If you don't, your house will be viewed as a "fixer upper" and it will bring in a lower asking price. Buyers feel if your house has broken or missing items (such as missing outlet covers and burned out light bulbs) than the homeowner most likely didn't deal with major problems like plumbing or electrical. In addition, when your house is in escrow, the home inspector will inform the buyers of any problems he encounters. These deferred maintenance problems are a renegotiating tool for buyers. Don't let this be a deal breaker. Fix any problems now!

  7. Smells Don't Sell - If a potential buyer walks in and they are bombarded with the smells of your house, they may turn around and head back out the door. Smells such as cigarette smoke, pet smells, cooking odors and other "excessive" odors are a real turn off to buyers. Smells are imbedded in carpet, window treatments, your furniture, in trash cans and sinks and can be easily eliminated by thoroughly cleaning your house and belongings. Don't try to cover up smells with candles, sprays or potpourri. Sometimes even "good" smells are too overbearing. Best way is to eliminate the odor source and then air out the house. You may not be able to smell offensive odors (you are use to the smells in your house), but buyers can whether they are bad or "good" smells. Don't chase them off.

  8. Broaden Your Buyer Field - Many homeowners are quite proud of their house, as they should be, and feel others should appreciate it. Unfortunately not everyone has the same tastes as you. Homeowners don't realize they are marketing their house to a small group of buyers when they choose not to remove wallpaper, personal paint colors and theme rooms. When it comes to selling a house, it must be neutral in style in order to appeal to a wide variety of buyers. If your house is too "taste specific", the longer it will be on the market (waiting for a buyer with same taste to come along).

  9. Turn Key House - Buyers are savvier these days and they have the time to visit a lot of houses before they choose which one to make an offer. Buyers want a house they can just move into and start living. They don't want to have to strip wallpaper, paint neutral colors or replace outdated or worn items. If they did, they would buy a fixer upper. Don't let buyers think your house is a fixer upper! Simple and inexpensive renovation can make a house seem like it has been overhauled. Paint is the easier and least expensive way to update anything in any room besides the walls. Paint can make an ugly fireplace look new and fresh. Paint can refurbish cabinets in your kitchen or bathroom. A can of spray paint is a lot less expensive than replacing all your drawer handles. Paint (done by a professional company) can revamp bathtubs and sinks. There are even specialty paint products to update your ceramic tile and appliances. Other simple renovations include new light fixtures (sometimes it just takes new light covers) and new plumbing fixtures. The more "updated/upgraded" a house is, the less bargaining power potential buyers have.

  10. Dress Your House For Success - Once you have followed all the suggestions (clean, declutter, lighten and brighten, renovate, repair, etc.), now it's time to accessorize. If you don't accessorize your house, it won't give off as much of an impact as you should be trying to achieve. Just like adding jewelry, shoes and handbag to an outfit, accessorizing finishes the look of a house. Accessorizing your house is the hardest thing to accomplish if you don't know what you are doing. Simple accessorizing can be completed using pictures, mirrors and art work, pillows, candles and certain types of "knick knacks". Group these items in odd numbers (1, 3 or 5) and display similar items as a "theme" or display at different heights.

  11. Naked Houses Are Harder To Sell - Most buyers cannot visualize the potential of a house. Rooms look smaller in a vacant house. Buyers cannot picture size and scale so furniture placement helps give them a frame of reference. Have a few rooms staged to allows buyers to see how a room can look or be set up.

  12. If You Post It, They Will Come - You must make sure your pictures posted on the MLS are the very best. 4 out of 5 buyers first look at photos online or in print ads when deciding which houses they'll tour. If the listing has no photos posted or if the house looks too dark or small, most buyers won't even bother viewing it in person. The purpose is to get buyers to your house so it can sell in the shortest amount of time for the best possible price the market will allow. Don't blow it with bad listing photos. Take lots of pictures of your focal points in the best possible light. Only post those which show your house at its very best. Even better, add a Real Estate Show to your MLS listing. Not all listing do this and it will make your house stand out.

    By following these suggestions, your house will look great. I you want to make an even bigger impact, hire a home staging consultant to make sure you have covered all the bases. Then you will definately be the envy of all your neighbors.

"The above information, authored by Becky Fields of Styled to Sell, appeared as a FEATURED POST June 5, 2007 on ActiveRain is an on-line informational resource serving the real estate industry."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Housing Market In San Joaquin

According to John Glover of PMZ Real Estate in Manteca the following is the Weekly Real Estate Market Update - 5/21/2007.

Today we show the following MLS market statistics.


575 Homes for sale on the MLS. This is up 14 homes from last week.
19 Homes have been placed into escrow since May 1, 2007.


909 Homes for sale on the MLS. This is up 35 homes from last week.
31 Homes have been placed into escrow since May 1, 2007.


163 Homes for sale on the MLS. This is down 11 homes from last week.
3 Homes have been placed into escrow since May 1, 2007


2889 Homes for sale on the MLS. This is up 52 homes from last week.
114 Homes have been placed into escrow since May 1, 2007.


1752 Homes for sale on the MLS. This is up 15 homes from last week
97 Homes have been placed into escrow since May 1, 2007.


149 Homes for sale on the MLS. This is up 1 home from last week.
8 Homes have been placed into escrow since May 1, 2007

Realtytrac is showing the following statistics:

San Joaquin County
Homes in pre-foreclosure = 3,625 (Last week was 3,571)
Bank Owned Homes = 1,908 (Last week was 1,879)

Stanislaus County
Home in pre-foreclosure = 2,556 (Last week was 2,588)
Bank Owned Homes = 1,795 (Last week was 1,734)

Alameda County
Homes in pre-foreclosure = 3,865 (Last week was 4,048)
Bank Owned Homes = 2,391 (Last week was 2,203)

The above data was obtained from Metrolist Services, Inc. Neither John Glover, PMZ, or Styled to Sell Metrolist Services guarantees the accuracy of the above information. Data Maintained by the MLS does not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tracy Housing Market

Quick reminder of my free home staging seminar. Sunday April 22, 2007 from 1-3 at the Tracy Library.

Tracy Housing Market, as of March 12th, 2007
  • 709 houses on the market (104 in escrow)

As of April 19th, 2007 there were:

  • 792 houses on the market in Tracy.

  • 9 houses pending

  • 6 sold in the last month.

If you're not one of the 9 houses pending, what are you doing to help get your house sold? Give me a call and see if I can help you bring your house to the bargaining table.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What is home staging or house fluffing and how can it help you?

This is an article written by Kathy Somers, Creative Director of Stage It First for PRBuzz.
Stage it First is a Home Staging Service in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada

Apr 03, 2007

American's have been using staging strategies since the 90's but the trend is just starting to be recognized by Canadian homeowners.

In order to make a home more appealing to a wider variety of buyers it's important to de-clutter and neutralize the space. Home stagers are able to take this marketing tool one step further. Buyers today are more real estate savvy, baking cookies and putting on a pot of coffee doesn't cut it anymore in today's competitive market. Beautifully decorated model homes have elevated the expectations of the homebuyer. Regardless of the market it's important to stand out from the rest!

A "home stager" is a person who will come into your home and give advice on the things you can do to improve your homes overall appeal. Home stagers look at your property with the objective eye of a buyer. They help you to understand the things that are working for you and also the things that may need to be corrected or reworked.

Generally a home stager will do a 2-3 hour consultation. During this time they will go through each and every room with you and make personalized recommendations for your home. A home stager can also suggest paint colours furniture layout, and placement of artwork. Most home stagers will shop for you or accompany you on your shopping spree for decorative items, linens etc. If you need furniture rentals that can be arranged: as well as handymen and tradesmen referrals for any repairs or painting that needs to be done.

Professional help can range from $100-$150 per hour on average, although you can have a home stager do only the consultation and leave you to make the changes on your own. Most people should expect to spend 1% of the list price on staging. While that can seem expensive, it's a great deal cheaper than your first price reduction which usually means $5000-$10,000 dollars. It's up to you how much of the staging project you want your home stager to complete: from the consultation only, down to the final details of the showing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Selling vs Marketing

As a homeowner, you are emotionally attached to your home. No matter how long you have owned your home, when you purchased it, you immediately started adding your style and personality to it. Now that you are selling it, you need to make it appealing to potential home buyers. If you keep it "as is" (you list it exactly as it is now), you are limiting your buyer field. In other words, you are "marketing" to a select few.

Think about it this way. If I open a butcher shop selling only beef, I am only marketing to beef eaters. Yes, there are many beef eaters but there are more consumers who don't eat beef. If I want to market to more consumers I must add pork, poultry or seafood. Every time I add another item, I am making my store more appealing to a variety of consumers. This is the same when you are selling your house.

Selling your house is about packaging and marketing. It has taken you a while to get it to where you want it, but now you need to package and market it so buyers will want it. What do buyers want? Buyers want a house which they can just move into and start living. They don't want to have to remove wallpaper, paint over unusual colors, make repairs, and upgrade items throughout the house. If your house feels dated, dirty, dark, bland, cluttered, small, etc., most buyer will discard your house and move on to the next one. With so many houses on the market, buyers have the choice and time to find the house which is within their price range, fits their needs as well as one which is in "move in ready" condition. Do you have the time for your house to sit on the market until the right buyer comes along?

How can you market your house so it appeals to a variety of buyers?

Think of your house as a product. Once you put it on the market, it is no longer yours. Soon it will be someone elses. Emotionally detach yourself from your house so it will be easier to make necessary changes in order to sell it. Hire a Staging Consultant to help stage your house. A staging consultant, like myself, can advice you on exactly what to clean, declutter, repairs, paint, renovate or modernize so it stands out among its competition and is in “move in ready” condition. Most buyers think staging is something they can do on their own but just like a proof reader; it takes an independent party to show you your home's flaws or negatives. What negatives might your house have? Negatives are anything that will turn buyers off. As an independent 3rd party, different from your agent, a stager can inform you which imperfections need to be changed and why. Or how to turn negatives into positives. Once your house has been properly prepared, a stager can return and give your house a style which buyers can envision themselves and their belongings in.
If your house is already on the MLS, have your agent take new pictures immediately. Online and print ad picture are a buyers first impression of your house. If they don't like they way it looks, they most likely won't bother giving your house a second thought. Have your agent upload the new photos to their website and print new ads.

Once your house has been staged, keep it maintained. Houses are not selling as quickly as they have in the past. Buyer can take their time when deciding which house they will make an offer on. If they viewed your house two weeks ago, they may decide to take another look and you want them to be just as impressed as when they first saw it.

In a buyer’s market, homeowners must make their house appeal to a variety of buyers, create a sense of interest and desire and make their house worth what they are asking. Staging is the way for both buyers and sellers to get what they want. If buyers get what they want (turn key home) , sellers get what you want by selling their house. Stage it! Style it! Sell it!

Staging Your Home's Exterior

A buyer’s first impression of your house begins when they pull up to your property. If buyers don't like what they see on the outside, chances are they won't want to see the inside. You can help make sure they want to come inside your house by spending some time working on your exterior appearance.

  • Kill any mold and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof, or driveway.
  • Pressure wash the outside of your house and dingy decks.
  • Remove all unnecessary garden implements and tools. Remove all novelty ornaments such as garden gnomes, pink flamingos and gazing balls.
  • Clean windows and gutters.
  • Mow the lawn. Get rid of weeds. If you have a weed problem in your lawn, add a weed and feed to your lawn.
  • Edge sidewalks and remove vegetation growing between concrete or bricks.
  • Rake and dispose of leaves and dead flowers or plants.
  • Trim tree limbs that are near or touching your house's roof.
  • Cut back all overgrown plants and vines.
  • Sweep your driveway, sidewalk and porch or entry way.
  • If you still have your Christmas Lights hanging, now is definitely the time to remove them. You don't want buyers to be turned off by them.

To make your curb appeal even more impressive;

  • Update outdoor light fixtures.
  • Touch up any house paint which is peeling
  • Paint house trim. This is an easy upgrade which will make the house color look updated.
  • How does your front door look? If your budget permits, add a new front door or upgrade the hardware. If this is out of your budget, a good cleaning and/or a fresh coat of paint will make it look great. Oh and don't forget the hardware, polish it or spray paint it to make it look new.
  • To add color to the front yard, plant flowers around trees, in flowerbed or pots to the entry way. Hanging baskets and flower boxes are a nice way to upgrade the look of a house too.
  • If you have any areas which are patches of dirt, add bark or rocks. Make the yard look "finished".

Curb Appeal Maintenance - Once your house has been on the market a few weeks, don’t forget to keep it looking its best.

  • Mow the lawn on a weekly or semimonthly basis. Hire someone if you have to.
  • Make sure your “For Sale” sign is not falling over and any secondary signs on it are not dangling.
  • Keep your flyer box full. A lot of buyers will pull flyers and if your box is empty, you could have just lost a sale.
  • Make sure everything look the same as when you first listed your house.

By making sure your home’s exterior looks its best, buyer will want to take a look inside. By Staging your house’s interior and as well as the exterior, your house will make a positive first and lasting impression. Stage it! Style it! Sell it!