March 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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Local Home Listings Reflect 2013 Buying Trends

December 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Homeowners who are puzzling over whether to add their property to the Solano County home listings this winter (rather than hold back until spring) have more than just timing to factor into their decision. How their offering will stack up alongside the other home listings is a prime consideration.

The residential market has made good progress this year – and a strong majority of pundits expect more of the same for 2013. I deal with the home-buying public all the time, and so get an inside look and listen to what features and qualities wind up having the greatest impact on their buying decisions. Another way is to survey home listings across the nation to track buying trends: the features highlighted in home listings are just about the most market-sensitive indicator of all.

A look at those home listings throughout the past year can be summed up briefly: Homebuyers wanted relatively smaller homes, manageability, lower property taxes and utility bills — in short, they gravitated toward properties that looked as if they would minimize expenses after buying as well as in the purchase itself.

Associated prominent features dealt with location in a number of ways. “Within walking distance” was a frequently appearing phrase. “Walk Score” came into new prominence — to schools, coffee shops, grocery stores, or parks.  Importance of financial stability in the surrounding neighborhood can be implied from a number of popular phrases, and I can vouch for that in the attention I saw paid to various areas’ foreclosure rates.

Practically every homebuyer will still be looking for a good deal, but in 2013, we can expect increasing attention to the intangible of future value. If you are considering selling your Solano County home any time in 2013, now is the time to begin putting the idea into action.  Understanding buyers’ needs is a sound first step toward placing your home in position to stand out in the Solano County home listings — and I am standing by this year to help you do it!

Listing Your Home During the Winter Months

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

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If you are a Solano County homeowner struggling with the decision about whether listing your home for sale during the winter months is good or bad, there are arguments for either choice.

Let’s start with the “pros”:

One of the best things I like about listing your home for sale in the winter months is that the holidays work to your advantage.  Nothing says “home” better than a house that is well (and tastefully!) decorated for the holidays. By making sure the decorations accent the house rather than overpower it, you still funnel attention where it belongs: on your house!

 Another plus that comes with listing your home in Solano County during the winter months is the logistical reasons that keep the proportion of non-serious “shoppers” from occupying your time. I find that the majority of those who are looking for homes during the winter months are disproportionally intent on actually buying a home.

On the other hand, some of those same logistical forces serve as counterarguments against listing your home during the winter. They are the same reasons many real estate agents tell their clients to wait until the spring to list. It’s true that there are fewer daylight hours for home viewings…not to mention spates of bad weather, and the greater chance that holiday travel will interfere with both buyer and seller schedules. 

All in all, I think the arguments cancel each other out: I don’t advise you to allow the time of year to prevent you from listing your home in any season. If you are otherwise ready to sell your home this month or next, I say — make the most of the season! Who knows – it has happened more than once that the right buyer is out there right now. I have marketing plans for Solano County homes that work every month of the year — if you are ready to sell, I’d be delighted to help you launch your sale this holiday season!

2012 Housing Picture: Break Out the Bubbly?

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment

It may be a little early to start putting the champagne on ice, but looking over last week’s releases of housing reports gives us a fairly good idea of how our Solano County housing picture for the year 2012 is likely to end up.

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“The housing recovery that started earlier in 2012 continues to gain momentum,” according to CoreLogic’s Chief Economist. The monthly data report covered final national numbers for October (a year-over-year rise of 6.3%) as well as a probable 7.1% increase for the month just ended.

CoreLogic was also “seeing an ongoing strengthening of the residential housing market” as well as “improving buyer demand.” Solano County housing watchers might have assumed that the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy would have put a big dent in the national outlook, but apparently that effect may be less than anticipated.

If CoreLogic’s take was not quite definitive enough to trigger an early break for the bubbly, there was additional news from the financial soothsayers. Seekingalpha.com stayed with its months-long view that “there are immediate long-term opportunities for homebuyers,” while Barron’s quoted RDQ Economics’ John Ryding’s pronouncement on the housing market: “the recovery is running ahead of our expectations…”

Meantime, the Wall Street Journal was blogging about the ‘Five Reasons Home Prices Have Been Rising’ – including favorable affordability, lowered levels of distressed sales, and rising rent levels. They also pointed to plunging inventories that “see more buyers chasing after fewer properties.”

Of course, the complete Solano County housing picture for the full year won’t be known until December is in the books. But considering how the year has treated us so far, it might not be too soon to stash a bottle or two of the good stuff in the fridge after all!

Scrooge-less Holiday Season Looks Likely

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

With the rancorous elections finally behind us and Solano County property prices on the rise, public sentiment is markedly improving.  Last week, Neilson released its Consumer Confidence Survey, now showing the strongest level in more than four and a half years.

My guess is that 2012 will likely mark the year that holiday tipping makes a comeback, too. “People are more generous this year because when the economy gets better, people do better.” is what international etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore had to say. The founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach added, “They tend to be happier around the holiday time.”

That’s true outside of Palm Beach, too: many Solano County homeowners who felt forced to become latter day Scrooges during the previous few years may be feeling slightly less anxious about the future of the family budget. Those who feel they want to thank the people who help run their households and maintain their property will, as usual, run into the perpetual query: what’s enough? What’s too much?

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Like gift giving in general, tipping is totally optional – if there were hard-and-fast rules, part of the pleasure of giving (and receiving) would be lost. Nevertheless, I thought I would share these guidelines I came across in a story on Yahoo! Finance:

Garbage Collector     
Suggested Tip: $15 to $30

Beautician
Suggested Tip: Cost of One Session

Dog Walker
Suggested Tip: One Week’s Pay

Extracurricular Instructors
Suggested Tip: Creative Gift

Landscaper/Gardener
Suggested Tip: Cost of One Visit

Personal Trainer
Suggested Tip: Cost of One Session

Mail/Package Delivery
Suggested Tip: Gift

Teacher
Suggested Tip: Gift/Gift Cards

Favorite Real Estate Blogger

Suggested Tip: Your Next Listing

(Okay, I might have added that last one).  But with property values on the rise, if you are considering buying a home this winter, you needn’t let the holidays delay your plans.  Sometimes the best time to buy a property in Solano County is when everyone else is out shopping!

Post-Foreclosure Qualifying – Basics Apply

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Back in the day when home foreclosures in Solano County were truly rare, people who had just gone through one had little knowledge of what the ultimate repercussions would be. Although home foreclosures are still to be avoided if at all possible, the circumstances that created many recent ones are often understandable. Just about everyone in and out of the banking and real estate industries has seen otherwise responsible individuals fall victim to outside economic conditions.

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Understandable though individual home foreclosures may be, future lenders will still follow hard and fast guidelines. If home foreclosures — in Solano County or elsewhere — are in your recent past, putting yourself back on the right track to home ownership will take close attention to the credit-building basics you may not have had to think about for years:

  • Bide your time. While it’s not necessary for home foreclosures to disappear from your report to qualify for a new loan, it can take seven to ten years for missed payments to fall off your credit report.
  • Spend the next two to three years diligently demonstrating wise spending habits. Not taking on large amounts of debt while making on-time payments improves your credit score even as you strengthen your financial position. Play it safe, too: since missing payments sets the credit clock back to zero, don’t risk waiting until the last minute to make payments.
  • Focus on paying off any collection accounts in full. Although paying a collection account does not necessarily boost your credit score, mortgage lenders still see any unpaid debt as a strong negative.  Since you will be required to settle those accounts before closing a new loan anyway, so it’s beneficial to address outstanding debts early.

The American Dream of home ownership need not be permanently lost due to home foreclosures. With planning and patience, anyone can rebuild their finances.  Then as now, I’m here to help answer questions at any stage of buying or selling Solano County real estate.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Focuses Holiday Get-Together

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Things I am thankful for this year: health, of course — for friends, family, myself — and for the many things we all take for granted until something as devastating as Hurricane Sandy comes along to remind us of our good fortune.

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And especially on Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for…my kitchen!  Kitchens have become the center of activity in today’s home, whether during a casual weeknight family meal or a grand Thanksgiving feast for twelve. More and more of our Solano County real estate listings reflect just that: focused interest on the kitchen.  Here are some relevant details that can draw interest to real estate listings in Solano County:

Floorplan – Is the kitchen open?  Walled-off?   Great yard view?  Photos should be selected to highlight attractive layouts for effective real estate listings.

Appliances – New?  Desired brand names? It’s amazing how prominent those concerns have become as interest in kitchens has been reflected in the real estate listings.

Finish – Have safety touches been added to the kitchen?  Childproofed kitchen is a two-word real estate listings highlight worth featuring in any family-friendly neighborhood. One of the easiest updates is the addition of new hardware — which can also make it harder for little hands to pull open cabinets while the adults are busy baking the world’s best pumpkin pie! 

All kidding aside, I am thankful for all that we have here in Solano Cunty. This Thanksgiving, Sandy has reminded us of all those who will be spending this holiday without a familiar place to come home to.  If you would like to help Hurricane Sandy’s victims, a Red Cross page has been created to make donating easy: http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy

Here’s to a safe and happy Solano County Thanksgiving!

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