My dog, Buck, never gives up. No matter where we walk, he will vigorously hunt until he finds his prize: a castoff ball of some sort (lacrosse, tennis - he's not particulary discriminating - the older the better) which he then proudly places at my feet. Big dog smile and tail wagging rapidly, he knows that even if I ignore him at first, I will eventually give in and toss him the ball. Together, we will engage in a prolonged game of fetch and he will be happily rewarded for his unyielding tenacity (not unlike many buyers). Buck is the ultimate optimist!
And so am I when it comes to real estate. (No, I don't hunt for old tennis balls or chase after them for that matter). Sure, I read the papers, listen to the news reports and gather all of the relevant statistics I can with respect to our specific marketplace ( I too, can be obsessive) so there's no denying that home prices have softened and that overall, sales are down.
Still, I remain optimistic as to our future.
Because the dream of home ownership is very much alive and well.
Yes, Buyers are more discriminating than they used to be and certainly, they are purchasing more conservatively, but Buyers are also undeniably and intimately engaged in the process: often times, asking me about a new listing even before I have had a chance to alert them to it. They are keenly interested in what is selling and for how much, they anticipate every beat and nuance of the market and they collect sales information as eagerly as my dog collects used tennis balls!
Like all good detectives (or an excited black Lab) these Buyers are constantly tracking each and every opportunity that presents itself. In many cases, their tenacity is paying off. Buyers who are stepping in to take advantage of this more conservative marketplace, are often times, securing homes that were previously unaffordable and unattainable just a few short years ago. (This is true for every segment of the marketplace from budget foreclosures to three million dollar estates!) With a relative market in hand, they realize their upside often offsets any down side.
So if you find yourself increasingly attracted to the marketplace at this time, you are in very good company. There are wonderful opportunities to be had in nearly every community and at every price point.
So wag your tail, jump for joy and get excited. It's okay to be optimistic! (just don't run into the street!)
Every year about now, my twin sister Jill, gets a little blue. It seems another birthday has come and gone with very little fanfare . . .
Of course, I blame her for this very human oversight. The simple truth is that if you want people to remember and celebrate your birthday, you need to let them know it's important to you! (Thankfully, Plaxo and Facebook make it so much easier for us to easily inform family and friends, but I'm not above making a well-timed phone call or two . . .) Forget the subtle hints, subtext, humble pie and misplaced assumptions. If you want to be noticed, you need to SCREAM it from the rooftop - "It's my birthday. Let's eat cake!"
However, with respect to Real Estate, there is often an element of mystery involved. My job involves highly-skilled negotiations as I advocate for my clients and their best interest. Not infrequently, successful sale inceptions require stealth and good timing. Understanding a seller's motivation often requires covert investigation and subtle inquiry. Like a good game of chess, I am assessing my opponents at every turn and trying to stay one step ahead of the game!
But with respect to our relationship, I need to understand your true motives and intentions from the get go. I do need to understand your finances (really!) and I need ALL of the relevant information that informs your decisions as we move through the process.
Without your complete trust and your unedited input, I am bound to be working at a disadvantage, which may result in wasted time and unfortunate missteps. And in a market that is already heavily fraught with land mines, missteps are best avoided at all costs! Like your attorney or family physician, our business together is confidential! Your sale, your personal relationships and your finances are NOT an open book, nor should they be. Moreover, the amount you paid or what you sold your lovely home for is nobody's business but your own (nosy neighbors and best friends alike)!
So let's agree to be as up front with one another as possible. I will keep you fully informed throughout the process, provide options, give my opinion when asked, carefully listen to your goals and objectives, then act upon your directives. You will provide full disclosure so that I have the necessary tools to help you successfully navigate the rocky world of real estate with positive results. (That seems fair - doesn't it?)
And since you are sharing with me, I will share with you that I turned 49 last week, I love tulips and peonies (cheeky!) and I am a fan of angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whip cream.
Let's eat cake!
Hey, I'm 100 today (not years, but editions) and thanks to you, readership has grown to more than 1000 subscribers and continues to expand. Rarely a week goes by without a few new readers added to the list. I can't tell you how gratifying that is.
Today marks my 100th edition and I take great pride in that. What started as a weekly listing update has blossomed into a unique and creative platform to speak to all manner of issues with respect to real estate.
Unexpectedly, it has also given me an opportunity to share stories about my children, my friends, my mother-in law, my sisters, my parents, the dog and my husband - who is easily the funniest person I have ever known, but also loves me in spite of how often I poke fun at him (which is often! ) Honey, this must be the "for better or worse" part of the vows.
As to the rest of you - throughout the months, you've written or called to ask if I was referring specifically to you in a particular piece. Once in awhile, the answer is "yes," but usually, any reference, is coincidental; the examples are a composite of many people and many experiences. Typically, a phrase, a song, a memory or a moment gives me a "jumping off " point and a story takes root (and yes, I do take broad literary license).
I build a framework, let it marinate, rewrite, rewrite, REWRITE, fine tune and then meet with DJ Grubb on Tuesdays who has become an integral part of the process. While he rarely makes changes, when he does, they are always "spot on." He is invaluable to me in keeping the news relevant and the one-liners memorable. (Thank you DJ.)
A few of you have written to ask why your home didn't make The Perspective in a given week, as if it wasn't somehow "Perspective worthy." The short answer is that I made an agreement with my coworkers when I began writing The Piedmont Perspective to seek approval before publication. Some agents prefer to tightly control the marketing of their listings and I do my best to respect that choice and their practice. Inevitably, I'll have made a mistake or two (John Faust) or inadvertently passed along information prematurely. If so, I apologize.
On balance, I hope I have had more hits than misses. If they haven't all been home runs, they've certainly contributed to the conversation as evidenced by those times when you approach me to tell me how much you enjoyed the piece I wrote about baseball, were touched about my son's college hunt or laughed over the argument about Cliff's briefcase .
That you remember the stories, that they made an impact or struck a chord, is continually surprising and brings me great personal joy.
The favorite part of my week is each Wednesday when I hear back from you. (Some of you are regulars and I'm forever in your debt.) I'm most often asked, "How do you come up with the stories?" It's a bit of a mystery (even to me) a touch of serendipity, a lot of work and some pixie dust!
Some of the topics come easily and others take much longer to emerge. Some get tossed in the recycle bin only to resurface weeks later in much better form, having improved while gestating. Others simply get discarded altogether; lost forever or not good enough to make the grade. With each piece, I work very hard to create readable copy and an authentic voice.
I admittedly keep it positive, not because I see the world through rose-colored glasses, but because I truly believe in the concept of home ownership. To quote Dorothy, "There's no place like home."
Along the way, you have referred me friends, family, neighbors and coworkers and my business has grown exponentially. For anyone who works in a competitive field as I do, your referrals are the ultimate compliment and acknowledgment of my value. You have entrusted me with your care in transitions that are often highly emotional, even under the best of circumstances - and I hope I have lived up to your expectations.
So thank you one and all for reading, for writing back, for creating the moments, for the good-natured rebuttals and for The Piedmont Perspective's growing success and circulation. It has been a true privilege. Here's to the next 100 episodes and here's to growing older!
I hope I continue to improve with age.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.