That was a heck of a wind that whipped up on Monday night which meant that there was a fair amount of clean-up on Tuesday morning at the properties we represent. At 8 AM, I was at Mountain Avenue deactivating the alarm, sweeping the front steps, watering the pots, and turning the lights on when I was gratefully joined by Sarah's husband, John, a few moments later - electric blower in hand (Cliff was conveniently engaged), which freed me to meet Jill and Sarah for a color consultation at our next listing that's set to debut in a few weeks. Such is the life of real estate; it's always full of surprises . . .
Under incredibly trying circumstances, 2020 was an extraordinary year, both personally and professionally, AND I have every reason to believe that 2021 may be every bit as surprising. While many an expert predicted that the pandemic would paralyze the real estate market, quite the opposite proved true. (So much for predictions.)
Confronted with staring at our own four walls 24/7, many homeowners used the opportunity to not only to change their addresses, but to change their lifestyles as well. It's been fascinating to hear their reasons, to support their choices, and to facilitate their solutions.
Hey Julie, can I bring a couple of friends to see the house?" the Buyer asked, "I'd like their opinion." (Respectfully, that's a bad idea.)
I still cringe when I remember an interaction years ago when a Buyer, who was firmly in contract, invited a good friend to join her during inspections and innocently asked, "So what do you think?" no doubt expecting two thumbs up. Instead, her friend looked at her, and without hesitation, said "It's a lovely house, but I can't see YOU living in it." Ouch!
Years ago, I worked for a Broker who was fond of reminding his Agents that "the market is only ever revealed when looking at it through a rear-view mirror." Now with nearly two decades of selling real estate under my belt, that sentiment has never been more true than it was in 2020.
In a year that delivered a devastating pandemic, a hotly-contested presidential election, spelled bankruptcy for an untold number of small businesses and restaurants, created stock market volatility, set our state on fire (quite literally), sent protestors into the streets to demand social justice, and laid bare the stark discrepancies between the "haves" and "have nots," high-end Real Estate may have been one of the few winners, which is surprising given that the "Shelter-in-Place" order Governor Newsom decreed on March 3, essentially stopped us dead in our tracks, spring traditionally being a Realtor's most productive season.
"I can't start the decompression today," I said to my chiropractor, Carolyn , "I've got toffee to deliver."
"Maybe you can postpone it." Dr. Finnegan politely suggested, "Delivering chocolates isn't as important as getting you out of pain." (Uhhh, yeah it is.)
No doubt the doctor knows best, but nonetheless, dropping off sweetly-wrapped boxes of Little John's toffee has become a holiday tradition I'm quite fond of, even though the number of stops has steadily grown to nearly 400. Knowing that friends and clients have come to expect this annual treat, not even a jacked-up neck is going to keep me from my appointed rounds. . . .
"If you plan on driving your car up to the mountains any time soon, you're going to need new tires," John, my Lexus rep., explained. "These only have a few months left on them."
"How much?" I asked.
"With taxes and installation, you're looking at just under a grand."
It's not that I can't afford new Michelins on my car, but as the lease is up in March, and as I don't plan to keep my current ride, I'd much rather get rid of the car than absorb the expense for someone else's benefit. And when I found out that the "Extra Mileage & Scratch Protection Program" I'd purchased when I agreed to the lease three years ago, allowed me to surrender the car three months early without penalty, the decision was all but made - time to shop around. (I'm decidedly NOT a lease-kinda-gal anyway.)
Thanksgiving was decidedly different this year with just me, Cliff, and his mother, Zee, in attendance. Zee, who lives in the apartment we built for her downstairs turns 95 this week and was hesitant about joining us for dinner. Meanwhile, my mother stayed in Sonoma and our elder son, Case, bunkered down in his own small, studio apartment foregoing turkey altogether. What with the new spike in Coronavirus, and stern warnings from the CDC to AVOID congregating, we followed their advice, but it came at a cost.
It's a big day for me; I've just passed 300 rides on my Peloton. Like many others stuck at home, I ordered a bike just before the pandemic hit, and luckily, it was delivered a year ago, just a few months before SIP took place and Peloton's massive waiting list rapidly developed. While I haven't ridden every day, I HAVE clocked my fair number of miles - more mornings than not.
Not that you would necessarily know it to look at me. Sadly, I haven't morphed into the stunning 30-year-old professional instructors I ride along with . . .
"Thanks for your input," the email said, "but we've decided we're okay with the stairs to the front door, the steep lot, and the hillside location."
That's great. In fact, it's better than great, as long as you've taken all of those components into consideration. Given that real estate is a long-term purchase, AND given that it's likely to be your single-largest investment, AND given that you may NOT want to spend your weekends on home improvement projects, it's important to look at the the pluses and minuses of a property, absent rose-colored glasses.
"What do you think the value of my house is?" AND "What do you think this house sells for?" are both questions I'm asked on a daily basis and while I'd like to give you a definitive answer, the truth is "I don't know," AND NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE!
Because “value” is a moving target . . .
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.