Scott’s Tips For Selling Your Castle In The Winter

Some people think that winter can be a tough time to attract buyers. Winter buyers are generally VERY motivated and they don’t mind braving the cold and rain to find the home they want or need. Here are some winter real estate facts to keep in mind:

People Like an Orderly Property  
In the winter, all visitors may see is a blanket of leaves. Do your best to keep the driveway, walkways, and patios neatly cleared.

Bright Light Is Cheery
  There’s nothing that makes a house cheerier than sunlight. Wash the windows inside and out so they sparkle. Pull up the blinds and throw back the drapes for some warming illumination. In darker corners and niches where the sun won’t reach, place a lamp and keep it on. You could also use spotlighting to illuminate major features of the kitchen, living room or bathroom.

Warmth Is Comfort
  People coming in from the cold will be pleased to find your home is warm and toasty. As a retreat from the winter cold, your buyers will have more of a reason to feel comfortable and take their time. You might consider lighting a small fire in the fireplace or wood stove to keep things toasty. Try to keep indoor humidity between 40-60 percent to avoid that dry, stuffy feeling. A couple of drops of a cinnamon or clove essential oil on a tissue or in a diffuser can make the whole home feel clean and inviting.

Everyone Appreciates Mood  
Create a cozy feel by adding extra pillows or afghans to the sofa and beds, or some plush throw rugs on the floor. Leave the dining room table set for dinner, along with a champagne bucket and a couple of glasses. Add some extra-fluffy towels or robes in the bathrooms. In short, make everything look comfortable and inviting.

But My Home Has A Pool Sure it might be a more focused feature when it’s 100 degrees outside.  But don’t forget – the pool is not your home’s only feature and anticipation and the yearning for warmer weather is a very strong motivator.

Winter Can Be the Ideal Season  
You’re more likely to get bids faster in the wintertime because you’re dealing with motivated buyers. They need to move, and soon, or they’d be waiting for the balmier temperatures of spring. You may get fewer visitors, but they’ll be serious buyers, not just frivolous house-shoppers. Stage your home well for the season and you may very well sell faster, and for a your asking price.

You always want to keep your castle clean and in good repair, but the trick to selling in winter is creating the effect of a warm, sunny retreat from the elements.

As Always Keep Your Castle In Great Shape!

Who is your FIRST Buyer Contact?

That’s right, I am. I’ve been selling Real Estate in Oakdale for 30 years now. My primary focus has always been family homes, just like yours. Over the years I’ve sold over $260 million and over 845 homes. Yep, that’s more than the last time I threw those statistics out for you to catch.

Chances are, if you live in the 95361 zip code, I previewed your home before you moved in to see if it was a good fit for a client. Chances are, I remember what condition it was in and what upgrades it had or needed. My mind is like a steal trap – in that regards. However, the mind could use a tune-up on some other things I should remember, you can ask my wife about that.

Over the years, I’ve compiled numerous blogs about how to Keep Your Castle In Great Shape. Some of that thinking is to save you $$ now while you are enjoying your home. The other benefit to you is – these same simple projects sure make a huge difference in your asking price when it does come time to sell your home.

Click on the ‘News & Views’ tab on my website for more info.

Give me a call if you need a referral to someone that does a great job on any type of home project. I have a list of very reputable, reasonable $$, & licensed people for you to call.

If you think you might be selling your home in the future, give me a call. I’m happy to share with you what projects you may want to do to enhance your selling price and those projects that will increase your enjoyment of your home, but don’t have a great return on investment.

As Always Keep Your Castle In Great Shape !

11 Reasons Why Your Home Isn’t Selling

When you first put your house on the market, you might be hopeful for a quick sale. Especially if you’ve put a lot of money into improving your house over the years and if the neighborhood is one that has historically attracted a lot of buyers. While you shouldn’t panic if the house doesn’t sell the moment you list it, you should begin to worry if the months start flying by without any real offers.  Here are 11 reasons why your house may not be selling.

You overvalued your property.  If your house is overpriced, it’s simply not going to sell. Compare your property to similar properties that recently sold within your area to get a better idea of its true value. I’m very direct and upfront with this information. Additionally, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the cost of a renovation project translates to added value.

The Realtors marketing presentation is poor. If the listing of your home includes a poorly written description without any images, a lot of buyers are going to skip over it. Make sure you and your REALTOR® put an effort into creating marketing that attracts the attention of buyers. Make sure to add high-quality photographs of both the interior and exterior of your home. Don’t forget to highlight unique features as well.

You’re always present at showings. Let your agent handle your showings. Buyers don’t want to have the seller lurking over their shoulder during showings, especially during an open house. This puts unwanted pressure on the buyer, which will make them uncomfortable and can actually chase them away. We want them to have the time to picture themselves making this their home.

You’re too attached. If you refuse to negotiate even a penny off your price, then there’s a good chance that you’ve become too attached to your home. If a part of you doesn’t want to sell, or you think your house is the best house in the world, odds are you’re going to have a lot of difficulties coming to an agreement with a potential buyer.

You haven’t had your home professionally cleaned. A dirty house is going to leave a bad impression on buyers. Make sure you have a professional clean your carpeting and maybe even your windows and do some yard and flowerbed cleanup before you begin showing your house.

You haven’t staged your home.  This makes it difficult for buyers to imagine living in it. Stage your house with furniture and decor to give buyers a better idea of how big every room is and how it can be used. You want the buyer to feel at home when they are taking the tour.

You kept up all of your personal décor. Buyers are going to feel uncomfortable touring your house if you keep all of your family portraits up. Take down your personal décor so that buyers can have an easier time imagining themselves living there.

Your home improvements are too personalized. You might think that the comic book mural you painted for your child’s room is absolutely incredible, but that doesn’t mean potential buyers will agree. If your home improvements are too personalized, it can scare off buyers who don’t want to pay for features they don’t want.

Your home is too cluttered. Even if your home is clean, clutter can still be an issue. For example, maybe you simply have too much furniture in one of your rooms. This can make the house feel smaller than it is.

Your home is in need of too many repairs. The more repairs that are needed, the less likely a buyer will want your house. Many buyers simply don’t want to deal with the cost or effort of doing repair work, even if it’s just a bunch of small repairs, such as tightening a handrail or replacing a broken tile.

You chose the wrong real estate agent.  Choosing the right real estate agent is simply the most important decision you make in selling your home. A good REALTOR® makes all the difference in selling your home within a reasonable time. and at the highest possible price.

The Top 8 Home Maintenance Tips To Save You Money

Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. But are you spending extra money unnecessarily on upkeep? Here are the top 7 most expensive mistakes you could be making in your home.

1. Using Traditional Light Bulbs- 
 If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its lifespan, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home’s bottom line.

2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet
-  A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.

3. Using the Wrong  A/C Air Filter Size or Forgetting to Replace Them
-  We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems or accidentally buy the wrong size. But using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system. Set a reminder in your calendar to change them after the recommended amount of time, along with a note for the proper filter size, it’s really not one of those things I make a point of remembering off the top of my head 🙂   We also use this same calendar reminder to change the filter on our refrigerator too.

4. Not Customizing Temperature-
  Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you’re away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you’re gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.

5.  Not Adjusting Air Vents Properly-  
Is one room in your home hot, while the others are cold? Oftentimes homeowners will crank up the air conditioning in the whole house to combat hot temperatures in just one area. Instead, adjust air vents to direct the flow of air more evenly throughout your entire home. Professionals will come regulate this to ensure that your entire home is receiving the same amount of air conditioning or heating.

6. Over Watering Lawns-  
Many homeowners have their sprinkler systems programmed to come on in the early morning hours for optimum lawn health. This can become a problem, however, if you’re never around to see what you’re actually watering. A broken sprinkler head could be causing a fountain, or the trajectory of your sprinkler may be directed at a fence instead of your lawn. Periodically run your sprinklers during the day so you can see how they are performing when you’re not around.  If you are looking for ways to lesson your water bill – check out my blog  Save Water Save $$$.

7. Water Heater Temperature Set Too High-  
Unless you have a tank-less water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7.  If you don’t keep an eye on the temperature as each season changes, you may be paying too much to heat your water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.

8. Timer Light Switches- We invested in a number of different types of timer light switches throughout the house.  What a difference they made!  Sure wish we had had those when all our kids were growing up. It would have saved us a lot of money and a lot of nagging too 🙂  There are all kinds of options,  some with actual timer options (10 min, 20 min, 40 min, 60 min).  Some operate on a motion sensor (great for the pantry and utility area).  Head down to the hardware store and check them out.

As Always Keep Your Castle In Great Shape!

Staging Your Home Exterior

If you’re selling your home, chances are good you’re familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar.

Did You Know? You never get a 2nd chance to make a great first impression?

Did You Know? If a potential buyer doesn’t even get out of their car, they won’t see the inside of your house?

Curb appeal is a wonderful way to attract buyers to your home, whether your audience is luxury home buyers or you are selling your starter home. If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider.

Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens
  Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. Put on a set of ‘Buyer Eye Glasses’ and take a look at your windows, screens and doors.  Are they clean and dust free or they are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm or our valley agricultural dust? Any open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven’t attended to. Don’t give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained.

Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways
  Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can’t be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens. It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

Refresh Your Home’s Siding  
No, you don’t have to replace your home’s siding. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional. Some homeowners have been known to damage their home’s siding by using too forceful a water stream. This is one task that is often best left to experienced professionals. The last thing you want to deal with is replacing siding before an open house.

Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage  
Something as simple as a new doorknob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn’t spring for a new door; just update the face-plate and/or doorknob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you’ll have tweaked the look of your home’s exterior in just a few minutes.

Clean Patio Furniture
  Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential home buyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, replace it or simply get rid of it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home’s final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing in the area.

Did You Know? I’ll cover all of these topics with you when we list your home. With 25+ years of real estate experience, not only will I help you prioritize, I also have a long list of reasonably priced professionals that can help you if you need it.

As Always Keep Your Castle In Great Shape!

My 2021 Plan to Save Water & Save $$$

Well, are we out of the drought? – again ?  Will we continue to focus on water conservation?

The truth is: ‘THEY’ are going to charge us more money for the water we use,
 WHATEVER  we do!

Here are some steps we implemented at our place and it saved us 27-35% in water consumption per month. Our lawns, flower beds and trees are thriving, even in the 100 + degree summer weather and we remain in compliance with all of the 2014 drought regulations.

Step #1:  Make a decision, commit to a course of action.
  Do I like my landscaping or not?

Step #2: What kind, California lawn, trees and plants or Arizona 
cactus with rock and gravel?
  If you choose or chose Arizona rock and gravel/bark with no lawn, trees or shrubs – that’s as drought friendly as you can go & still have landscaping. For most of us, we already have the California look – lawn, trees, plants, flowers & maybe a little garden area. Assuming that we will be either be on a 2 or 3 days per week lawn watering rotation, here are some of the tips on how we got more results with less water.


 Do a little sprinkler maintenance: Check your pop up sprinklers, make sure that grass is not blocking the water spray, you may need to cut away grass in the spray zone (dig them out a little) or raise the pop-up head by adding a small riser. Clean them up so they are 100% efficient.

Get a good multi-station timer:  (the Orbits brand is a good one, there are others) with a minimum of 10 stations. Identify your individual water circuits, most homes have 3 lawn circuits in front and 2 in the backyard.

For each day that you are allowed to water your lawn:
  Set each circuit for 8-10 minutes, for 2 or 3 times per day early in the morning with at least a 45-minute break in between. The short watering times (8 – 10 minutes) with at least a 45-minute pause in between allows the water to seep into the roots. This reduces runoff and maximizes the effectiveness of the water used. The early morning watering times provides the lawns with a deep root quenching to start the hot, dry days ahead.

Here’s an example of how to set up your water time circuits:

Circuit 1. Front Lawn – Area 1. 1st Start Time 2:00 am for 8 minutes. 2nd Start Time 2:45 am for 8 minutes. If your lawn requires the 3 times per day, limit the last cycle to 4-5 minutes to avoid water runoff on the sidewalk.

Circuit 2. Front Lawn. Area 2. 1st Start Time 2:30 am for 8 minutes.  
2nd  Start Time 3:15 am for 8 minutes. 
If your lawn requires the 3 times per day, limit the last cycle to 4-5 minutes to avoid water runoff on the sidewalk.


DRIP THEM. There are NO daily restrictions on a drip system. 
They make a ‘pop up sprinkler head to drip’ conversion KIT that comes with all the pieces you will need. If you have ridged pipes with spray heads they have KITS that convert each of them to 6 feeder lines. It’s really slick and means you can start laying out the drip lines without having to dig. Just use your existing spray pop-ups and modify them for drip according to the kit’s instructions, choosing as many sprinkler heads as you need to provide a drip line to each of your plants and trees.

To decommission the unnecessary pop-up heads, take a small screwdriver and tighten down the screw in the center of the pop-up spray head, they will pop up but they won’t spray. For those with ridged pipes, just remove old unused spray heads and cap them with ½” PVC threaded caps.

SPECIAL NOTE: Drip systems work best when you use filters or membranes to keep out the seeds and dirt that is in our clean water. Installing a filter on a drip line circuit at the valve is a great way to protect against plugged up emitters.

How to decide what size emitters to use for your plants and trees:

Here’s a quick visualization exercise that will help you determine the best emitter size for each plant and the amount of time the water circuit should be on.

Get a ½ gallon milk jug and fill it. So, a 1 gallon per hour emitter, on for 30 minutes will fill that milk jug just as you did. Not all the plants need that much water so you can adjust the duration time down or lower the emitter volume, using a ¼ or ½ gallon per hour emitter. Just a little bit of math and you are a professional.

Setting the drip system circuit time:

We water our plants at night every other day, 30 minutes in duration, during the summer.

In my travels around Oakdale,  I see evidence of homes being hit by misdirected or broken spray sprinklers. The stucco discolors and cracks, the wood trim and siding fade, crack and get dry rot, all of these conditions diminish the look and value of your home and will ultimately cost you $$.   Therefore, a weekend ‘Water Project’ could save you monthly on your water bill and save you the cost of repairs.

As Always Keep You Castle In Great Shape !

My Mid Year 2020 Oakdale Market Update

I’m certainly not a national economic guru. I can only report to you what I see in our local Stanislaus housing market. With 30+ years of real estate sales ‘under my belt’ here in the Oakdale area, I’ve enjoyed the stellar markets and worked my tail off during the awful ones.

The Truth Is… My phone is ringing nonstop with serious buyers in EVERY price range. We have all been impacted by COVID, real estate is no exception. I’ve always vetted potential buyers for their ability to buy BEFORE I show your home or allow your home to be shown. Yes, I even vet the clients represented by other Realtors – NO one should be traipsing through YOUR home unless they are serious and can afford to buy your home. My wife and I were the first, in our area, to embrace the dynamics of web & video marketing 25 years ago. Well, the Dept. Of Real Estate has made those 2 things mandatory – nice of them to finally catch up!

Yes, we all have to wear masks & gloves, provide wipes and of course there are more forms to sign as part of our business protocol. It’s really been a little hectic and kinda funny with all of our new rules, revised rules, new forms, revised forms over the last 60 days 🙂

The Truth Is… There is an incredible pent up buyer demand!
The number of homes FOR SALE has remained low since the start of 2018. This is due to the lack of new construction and Sellers faced with a genuine concern, “If I sell what do I buy and where?” Home sale prices continue to rise due to this lack of inventory. The market is solid and interest rates are VERY low. Many of the buyers are from the bay area, looking to embrace a safer, rural lifestyle. Call me – I’m here to help you create a plan – one that works for YOU and YOUR goals.

As Always, Keep Your Castle In Great Shape!

Seven Leadership Principles To Learn From An Eagle

Teachers – Let Me Say Thank You and Save You $,$$$ !

How?   It’s called Homes For Heroes.  Simply put – it’s my way of saying Thanks to those our local teachers in OAKDALE, WATERFORD & HUGHSON by offering a national program that literally puts 2,$$$.00 ++ in your pocket if you are selling or buying a home. It’s REAL – IT’S LITERALLY $$$ BACK IN YOUR POCKET !!! Click on Thank You to find out more.



My 1st Quarter 2019 Market Update

Well, in a nutshell – It sprints, it rises up, it stumbles down, it takes a break, sometimes it’s out of breath, reacting to the day’s events and news, so it’s emotional and fragile. It’s fascinating to watch it respond to way to much ‘news’ and not enough true knowledge.

Market High Points

Interest rates climbed most of 2018, from 4% up to 5.5%, then back down to around 4.75%. (To quote mortgage lenders, “a one per cent rise in the home interest rate knocks over 1 million buyers out of the U.S. market”).  Good news, could be Great news, if it continues to slide back!!!!

 Our Oakdale inventory of homes for sale, has averaged about 102 resale homes on the market at any one point in time, in the 95361 zip code. There are 3 active subdivisions, with about 10 homes on the market. It’s been this way for several years. Stable

 Maximum loan limits for FHA are up to $350,000, VA and Conventional loans climbed to $485,000!  USDA loans were extended for the Oakdale area. USDA is an income based loan, with 100% financing NO MONEY down.  Great news, Again!!!!  Very popular with entry level buyers up to about $275,000 Max!

New housing starts in 95361, lag way behind our housing needs.  Take a drive around town, do you see any new roads being cut in the dirt? We only have a few pocket subdivisions, Westport (off Crane & West J), the gated River Point (River Ave.), and Tesoro by the golf course. The majority of new homes built in Oakdale, have been on left over subdivision lots from the great recession. Bridle Ridge and The Vineyards are nearly completed. Good news and not so good news. We need more housing!!

 Investors who bought homes (several hundred plus of them) during the recession, 2008 to 2012, are beginning to sell. They are pocketing their profits, or 1031 tax exchanging into something else, and more likely, somewhere else. Good news for buyers, but no so good news for tenants…reduces rental inventory, but helps the availability of homes to buy.

Rental inventory is scarce, and the rents are up, up and away. Recent articles suggest it has peaked, but I am not hearing it that way from tenants or want to be tenants, in Oakdale. Not good news for the renters, Great news for the landlords.

YES, People are moving out of Oakdale, but an equal number are moving in and there is a waiting list!!! Very good news, we are still the Diamond of Stanislaus County, thank you Oakdale Joint Union School District, Oak Valley District Hospital, and the City of Oakdale.

Keep the castle in great shape, it is one of your largest investments, and like 2018, have a very prosperous 2019 !