My sister's little terrier mix, Bridget, has a funny way of showing up in our marketing photos. She's like, "Where's Waldo?" (The dog, not my sister.) If you carefully look at my listing brochures, you'll usually find Bridget tucked away on a bench or a sofa, or parked at the top of the stairs. She's not a dog, she's a ham. I'm definitely noticing a theme . . .
Makes sense, as Jill typically meets the photographer at the photo shoots with her loyal companion in tow, but from a marketing point of view, there's an emotional appeal to having a dog in the frame that absolutely works. Not that I'm an art director mind you, but I bet the same could be said of children as well. It's just that my children are grown now and Bridget works for milk bones, so there is that . . .
Last weekend Cliff and I traveled to Hamilton, NY to watch Tristan and his classmates graduate from Colgate. Historically, 2019 marks the 200th year for this prestigious university. As such, there were several multi-generation alums in attendance - grandfathers, fathers and sons - all extremely proud members of this elite group. (At one point, these hallowed institutions only admitted men.)
In fact, there was NO shortage of smart, successful and beaming individuals in the crowd - both male and female! Collectively, they represent the past and future generation of innovators, movers and shakers. To quote Spock (and prove just how truly geeky I am), "Live long and prosper!"
I'm off to upstate, New York this weekend to see Tristan graduate from Colgate. He's the younger of our two sons and his diploma marks the end of a long journey for us all - not to mention the end of costly tuition payments. (Hallelujah!) Two boys, eight years of college expenses, several cross-country flights, and countless years of love and devotion have added up to this highly-anticipated celebration. Needless to say, I'm an extremely proud mama.
Happily, Tristan has already set up his first "post-college" job at BIRD scooters down in Santa Monica on the "Reliance Team." I'm not sure what he'll be doing for them exactly (I'm not sure he knows either), but after four years of residing in the East, I'm thrilled to have him back on the West Coast once more. For me, New York was just too far away, while LA is a weekend trip. Note to parents, California has some great college campuses to consider. (I'm just sayin'.)
I've been on several listing appointments in the last few weeks and at some point in the meeting, the prospective Sellers invariably want an answer as to the cost of staging and whether it's worth it or not (Yes, it is.) followed by, "Will you pay for it?" (No I won't. Good staging directly equates to a better result and more money in your pocket.) This discussion typically happens before we negotiate the sales commission; a topic that's worth a frank discussion as well, but one I'll save for another column and another day . . . suffice it to say that I believe Realtors earn their keep!
Whether it's the fees associated with paying an experienced Broker, or the costs of preparation - BOTH are smart investments that can add up to BIG returns for the Sellers and why I'm going to firmly encourage you to spend the dollars required to make your home truly stand out. Given that nearly ALL Buyers begin their search on the INTERNET, the presentation of your home via photographs and video has never been more important!
"But it's expensive to fully stage a home."
On Wednesday evening, I met with new Buyers. Like many of the families I represent, they were darling, had two young kids in tow and were eager to find a house. "We probably should have bought in 2013 when we first arrived in the Bay Area ," he said, "but we weren't sure we would stay. "Now with two kids, we really feel the pressure to settle in." (Hindsight is always 20/20.)
That's a common story. The addition of children are often the impetus for a move, just as when these same children leave the nest years later to form their own separate lives (deserters). As our lives evolve, we often discover that our homes are either too small, or conversely, WAY TOO BIG!
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.