On Sunday, our younger son Tristan is set to run the Long Beach Marathon; a race for which he's been training for the past several months . . . so like the doting parents we are, Cliff and I are flying down for the weekend to support him. We'll be staying on the Queen Mary, exploring the charming town of Long Beach, and rooting Tristan on as he makes his way through the long and arduous course.
We'll also be there at the finish line to drive him back to his apartment in Santa Monica, to feed him a good meal, and see him safely home. For a kid who only ever ran the baseball diamond in high school, Tristan is proving to have quite a bit of grit and determination and a fair amount of speed as well. (It helps that he's also 20 lbs. leaner as a long-distance runner than he was as a baseball player and that he's only 23.)
Grit, determination and speed are all excellent qualities for Buyers as well as they work their way through the marketplace, even as it seems poised to shift. With interest rates at historical lows and still limited inventory in many cases, savvy Buyers are jumping off the sidelines and running to the finish line. (I've put four houses into contract in the last 10 days.) For others, no matter what the market signals, no matter how straightforward the course, they cannot seem to complete the journey into home ownership and that's unfortunate. They may be missing a prime opportunity.
But's it's not just Buyers that need to display true grit, Sellers do as well. As the market begins to transition, many Buyers are pulling back, expecting prices will drop, which leaves Sellers wondering where the Buyers have suddenly gone?!? After more than a decade of prospective Buyers beating down their doors, many homes are being met with surprising little interest and for both Sellers and their Agents alike, the sound of crickets is unsettling, ESPECIALLY if a fair amount of investment has been put into the house in preparation of bringing it to the marketplace.
In my experience, GOOD houses sell in any market and GREAT houses are ALWAYS in demand, regardless of the economy. Life carries on: babies are born, kids need good schools, children grow up and fly the coop and we become empty-nesters, or we find ourselves caring for aging parents. Retirement presents us with new challenges; downsizing and making room for new adventures. Ultimately, different choices are made as life dictates. Happily for me (as your Realtor), the backstory for these touchstones is "HOME," irrespective of whether prices have fallen or risen. And therein lies my value: to encourage, support and guide. Thus, tending to your home and keeping it current and in tip-top shape, may be the difference between very strong interest, very little, or none at all. (BTW, the kitchen you remodeled in the 90s is no longer "up-to-date.")
Whatever life event motivates you, AND whether you're slow to warm up, OR incredibly decisive (as one young couple was earlier this week - we met, we toured, they bid, they bought), buying or selling is always going to be a race to the finish line.
Because even if you are the ONLY Buyer at the table, buying or selling a home is a complicated process. Once in contract, there are countless details to attend to before the close of escrow. Having now qualified for a loan and having successfully secured the house, the underwriter is going to require a whole host of other questions to be answered, there will be disclosures to sign, a good-faith deposit to be sent, insurance to secure, movers to hire, packing to be done, utilities to be transferred, an escrow to navigate and on and on. In short, you're going to be busy!
In other words, put your running shoes on; it's going to be a race to the finish. But no worries, like the doting Realtor I am, I'll be there to help you every step of the way until you successfully cross the finish line.
How can I help you?
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.