"Surrender!" my younger son yelled, jumping from behind a doorway and aiming his automatic Nerf gun squarely at my chest while spongy orange foam darts rapidly filled the air. Avoiding his aim, I dove behind the couch, grabbed a second rifle and began to shoot back.
"Never!" I shouted, doing my utmost best to keep up with the obsessed tenacity and the energy of a 12-year old boy in battle. (I imagine this is a very different experience than the one my twin sister shares with her two girls.)
We spent the next 20 minutes running from room to room, shooting, reloading, and stealing each other's ammunition until exhausted and laughing, we called a momentary truce. When the Nerf war was finally over, most of the darts had landed helter skelter throughout the house but a few were velcroed squarely in my hair and in my back.
Victory! Tristan's well-executed attack had hit the mark.
Helping today's Buyers find the right home is a lot like my son's Nerf battle. Most of the darts are going to land helter skelter, but with well-placed aim, strong motivation, good preparation and a well-executed attack, you're eventually going to "hit the mark"- especially as winter gives way to spring and more and more buying opportunities emerge.
As they do, you will want to have a good plan in place (avoid the surprise approach my son often relies upon). Start by understanding the market, the price point you can afford, what you need and desire in a home and where you want to live. Once you have real clarity, the target becomes much more focused and your darts will begin to land.
With a savvy Realtor, an effective mortgage broker and a reliable escrow team in place, victory should be close at hand!
How can I help you?
I typically steer clear of any political views in The Perspective, but having just watched President Barack Obama take the oath of President of the United States, I should acknowledge that perhaps, the most coveted piece of property this week was anywhere along the parade route or in National Mall in Washington D.C., where MILLIONS of heartfelt citizens vied for space and the opportunity to gather together to celebrate the change of leadership and to honor our first African American President - a fitting tribute, one day after The Martin Luther King Holiday and 46 years after Dr. King's, I have a Dream speech was immortalized in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
I grew up in Sacramento in the 60s and 70s in a fully-integrated school system and never gave much thought to color. My life and environment was not simply dotted, but heavily saturated with diversity. As I matured and entered the workforce, my friends, classmates and colleagues have seamlessly represented every ethnic, religious and sexual orientation - much to my benefit and growth.
However, it occurred to me while watching the presidential inauguration, and the many memorable and moving faces within the crowds, that change which was once forcibly mandated by law, has now been voluntarily embraced by choice.
No where is that concept more evident than here in Oakland and Berkeley where blended families seem to be the rule rather than the exception. On any given Sunday Open, I meet people from every walk of life and they echo this sentiment in our discussions.
Oakland/Berkeley/Piedmont proudly serve as home to a kaleidoscope of nationalities, experiences, and beliefs. Our unique community isn't a color-blind society - it's a color-RICH society. (Isn't it the differences in texture and colors that make a patchwork quilt truly vibrant?)
These are indeed historical times. Like the many participants and well wishers that came together this week to share a sense of purpose, I am looking forward to profound changes - not only in Washington D.C. - but throughout the entire county. With renewed hope, I anticipate and embrace remarkable and profound changes ahead for all of us.
Let me remind you that I will be donating 10% of my net proceeds to the charity of your choice after the close of escrow throughout 2009!
My toes were frozen, my feet were numb and the pain shooting through my thighs was sheer torture. We've sent men to the moon, but can't engineer a ski boot that fits comfortably (or create a "Fast Track" lane that's actually fast - but that's another rift)! I'd only been on the ski slopes for a few short hours, but by mid-morning, I knew I was done. Big bruises were already forming on my shins and my right calf was so tender, I wondered if I could make it down the mountain without ski patrol coming to my rescue.
Slowly and painfully hobbling into the lodge, I vowed once again to take up snowboarding, if only to avoid those damned hard-shelled boots. Silently cursing my bony feet, the sub-zero temperature and the manufacturers of ski boots the world over, I realized I'd have to return the boots as soon as we flew home. In the meantime, it was back to rentals.
"We'll figure this out together," Tom, the owner and proprietor of Montclair Sports, assured me when I unexpectedly showed up, purchase in hand. "I want to make sure that whatever boot you own should 'fit like a glove,' but more importantly, I want you to be happy. Don't worry, we'll find the boot that fits your feet."
What Tom intuitively brought to the process was a heightened awareness and a keen sense of responsibility to 'get it right.' As a result, I felt incredibly secure in his hands and I trusted his advice and his recommendations.
Like Tom, helping my clients find the 'right boot' and understanding their particular journey and their reasons for selling or for purchasing a home, is essential to the success of our relationship and to its outcome. I've yet to work with the Buyer who walked into the first home he or she saw and said, "Close enough. This one will do. Would you prefer cash and how soon can I move in?"
I have; however, worked with Buyers who specifically bought a house for their kids, for the schools, for a new job, for a home-based profession, for a hobby, for a garage, for a view, for its potential, for its value, for its location, for the weather, for a grand piano, for an art collection, for retirement, for an aging parent, for a new baby, for a returning college graduate, for an au pair, for a gazebo, for a yard, or for a cherished pet (the adjoining neighbor was the dog's sitter).
You bet and with good reason. A home is more than a simple investment - it's where you live your life! Whatever the compelling reason for purchasing or selling a home, the motivation is uniquely yours and it's always the right choice. You may have one reason or you may have many. Either way, my job is to help you clarify and achieve those goals to the best of my ability. Listening to your concerns - without judgement - is part of the process. Assuring your sense of comfort and understanding my responsibility to 'get it right' is as important to me as it is to you.
I look forward to working with you. And thanks Tom, for service above and beyond. I'll never shop for sporting goods anywhere else but Montclair Sports.
Now can you fix the Fast Track lanes on the Bay Bridge?
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were joyfully spent with family and friends and that the New Year brings you good health and prosperity. I am really looking forward to what 2009 has to offer and happily, I am not alone!
There's a tangible return to optimism.
Here's what one previously cautious reader had to say . . . "Julie, still enjoying your updates . . . and still scared about what lies ahead. Meanwhile, guess what? We're in escrow to buy a place . . . (Yeah, I know; I don't listen to my own advice.) It's a real dump, the classic fixer-upper but it's got what you guys call 'great bones,' and it's in a nice part of The City . . .'
Their logic for taking the plunge?
They are looking to live in the property for at least five to 10 years, this will be their home and they were able to get a good price from a very motivated seller. Plus, the ridiculously low interest rates these days made it incredibly affordable!
"Even adding a homeowner's line to the monthly mortgage," my reader added, "we're only going to be paying a few bucks more than we now do for rent." Wait, it gets better. Charles goes on to say "I don't have any data to support my hunch, but my opinion - and it's only my opinion - is that more folks around the country are going to get lured back into the market because of increased affordability as well as the low interest rates. That's not to say housing prices won't continue to slip but hopefully, we're approaching the turning point. Six months from now, I'll know whether I was right or simply offering another useless opinion."
Hey Charles, I think your opinion is right on the money! Furthermore, I think that those of you who step in and take advantage of today's market are going to be well rewarded down the line.
Congratulations Charles on seeing the upside potential of our current real estate market and thanks for your revised forecast and optimistic viewpoint.
Please keep me posted.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 14 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.