"What do you think? Cliff said, "Should we go for it?"
"I don't know," I said. "It seems silly to drive all the way up there and back in the same day. We're not actually going to buy the house."
For years, Cliff and I have dreamed of owning a vacation property on the water, (never mind that we couldn't afford one; that's why it's called a 'dream.'), vacillating between Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe. But a few weeks ago while staying at Sarah's cabin in Homewood, we rediscovered Fallen Leaf Lake and fell under the spell of this more remote Alpine location while hiking along the water 's edge with our dog, Riley.
On Monday, I opened up my email and found this message:
"I recently Google searched 'Real Estate Agent in Piedmont' and noticed that your team didn't appear on the first few pages of the results. In order to change that, I'd like to recommend that your team consider posting weekly blog posts to improve your website's SEO, drive traffic, build client loyalty, and attract nearby Buyers and Sellers who need a hardworking and trustworthy real estate advisor. We have a team of writers . . ."
Gosh, you'd think with nearly 600 posts, I had done just that!
Cliff and I have been up in Tahoe this week enjoying a little R&R in Sarah's sweet little cabin in Homewood (If you can't afford your own vacation property, having friends who are willing to lend you theirs is the next best thing.) It's been a week of hiking, reading, and barbecuing while we do our best to avoid the crowds (and it's crowded in Tahoe). On the heels of a Spring Market that unexpectedly turned the volume way, WAY UP (!!!), I was ready for some down time; in fact, I was overdue (just ask Jill.)
Last week, Jill and I turned 60. This wouldn't have been so bad except that we were supposed to be in Portugal celebrating this milestone together at a beautiful seaside town in a charming Airbnb. (Non-refundable.) While it's no fun having to sideline our highly-anticipated plans, we're hardly alone; almost everyone in the U.S. is in the same boat. We're ALL stuck at home and not going anywhere anytime too soon. (Bummer.)
It's happened to every Agent I know. You show up to your newest listing expecting to be awed and amazed, only to walk in to find that the stager your Seller insisted on hiring (because they were less expensive) has done an absolutely terrible job of "setting the stage." Instead of elevating the property, the design looks cheap. (Think of these staging missteps as the Real Estate equivalent of "Botched.")
Speaking to a well-respected colleague on this topic, he said "I'd rather sell a house empty, than sell it with bad staging. If staging is meant to tell the story, what does 'tacky' say?"
Yesterday, YELP sent me an email advertising the "10 best donut shops in San Francisco." That's all fine and dandy, but as I live in the East Bay, the only stop I make for these delicious treats is Colonial Donuts in Montclair or on Lakeshore Blvd. It's a guilty and fattening pleasure to be sure (no judgement), but it's also a nostalgic one for me as well.
Growing up in Sacramento, our house was just a short walk to Marie's Donuts on Freeport Blvd. "Home of the 6-cent Donut!" their signs proudly proclaimed and as my father could never resist a good bargain, he would often hand us a crisp dollar bill on Sunday mornings and Jill and I would race to the stand for a dozen mouth-watering glazed donuts and dutifully bring back 28 cents in change. (Maple bars were 15 cents and if you wanted to splurge on one of those, you had to spend your own dimes. Harry counted the change.) The trick was trying not to open the sweet-smelling bag before we got home.
Happy Fourth of July. This will certainly be one for the history books: no parade, no picnics, no block parties, no barbecues, no music in the park, no fun! The chairs are noticeably absent along Highland Avenue, but there are still decorations to be found around town in red, white, and blue. (Thank you; your homes look great and they're a reminder that we're sacrificing for the American ideal, aren't we?!?)
I can't stand it anymore; I'll give up restaurants (Who needs the calories?), I'll dye my own hair (although I really shouldn't), I'll even REGRETFULLY forego my European vacation (say it isn't so, Joe), but it's probably the movies I miss most of all.
While our household has no shortage of televisions (too many, really), let's just admit that watching Netflix on the living room sofa is not the same as sitting at the Grand Lake Theater, or hoping to win the raffle prize at the charming Piedmont Theatre. I miss the BIG screen, the Coming Attractions, the buttered popcorn, the Milk Duds (preferably mixed into the popcorn), BOOMING SURROUND SOUND (although the nightly firecrackers are giving it a go), the organ music, and the overall experience of sitting in a movie theater laughing or crying with others.
"Hi Julie, I hope you are doing well. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your blog posts. Last week's, "The Naked Truth," in particular, struck me as insightful & powerful. You are SUCH a great Realtor and when that gift is combined with perceptive, cogent, insightful, humorous writing skills such as yours, the result is, well, amazing . . ."
Well shucks; how's that for a fantastic and unsolicited testimonial? (and I assumed no one but my mother read my weekly missives. Mom? Is that you?)
"I received your marketing piece earlier this week," came the friendly email, and it says "'transparently priced' on one of your houses.' (Yes, it did.)
"That doesn't mean anything," the man continued, "instead it should say 'correctly' priced." (Say, aren't there better things to do with your time, like cleaning out the garage . . . ?)
I get this gentleman's well-intended meaning and I appreciate that he took the time to write, but wordsmith or not, his conclusion isn't exactly right and here's why . . . .
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.