Cliff and I closed on the cabin at Fallen Leaf Lake earlier this week and it's been both exhilarating and nerve wracking to finally realize the dream we've aspired to for more than 30 years. The thing is that when you buy a vacation property, it typically comes with the furnishings, accessories, dishes, and the linens inside - lock, stock and barrel! That's all well and good, but what we hadn't expected was 20 years of accumulated "stuff" that the Sellers (and their renters) had left behind . . . cabinets, and cupboards and closets, OH MY!
"We're not convinced the price-per-square foot comps out to other sales in the neighborhood," the text said, "but we know that comps are usually hard to parse, and often bear no relationship to what the market will bear."
Thank you, I couldn't have said it better myself.
If price-per-square foot was all that was required to sell a home, Realtors would have gone the way of the Dodo long ago . . .
"We refer to the time before the fires as the 'good old days' when we ONLY had the pandemic!" Sharon's text message said. "We thought we bought a view; we want our money back . . ." (This photo wasn't filtered - it really looked like this!)
And so they did. In fact, their condo in Hiller Highlands has SPECTACULAR City and Bay views, but you sure wouldn't know it based on the apocalyptic skies we've been experiencing this week. (This photo was taken on their balcony.) Who'd have thought that California's spate of bad news could get worse??? And yet, it did. I think we're all ready for a break.
"Write this down," I said to the Seller, as he was dutifully filling out his Seller questionnaires, "Oakland is home to many animals, including but not limited to: deer, wild turkey, opossum, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, rodents, hawks and many other birds and insects."
"That's ridiculous," he said. "I've never seen turkey in my yard and I'm not writing that down."
"Just do it." I said, "I guarantee you that the new owner (or their dog) is going to cross paths with some of these animals and you're going to want it in your seller disclosures before it comes back to haunt you. (Trust me on this one.)
"So I know you don't have a crystal ball," Monty said, "but if you had to guess, what do you think is going to happen with the market? (He meant housing, not stock; I don't pretend to understand what's going on with the stock market, or why!?!)
Monty Stott, a gifted structural engineer, is my first line of defense whenever I need an expert opinion on a home's foundation. We met on Monday at a historic Victorian in Piedmont and like many Bay Area homeowners, he wondered what the future of Real Estate is going to look like in the coming months? (The foundation got mixed reviews.)
While it's true I can't read the future, here's what I've culled from several reputable sources (and no, this is not "fake news" . . .)
"Part of what makes this house so great" said Greg, "is the indoor/outdoor flow and you gotta admit the weather today is perfect. Can you promise me this exact weather year round?
"Absolutely," I said, stone faced. "Because as we all know, I control the weather. . . " (NOT!)
Nor do I control the housing market, the stock market, the interest rates, the number of Buyers in the market, Sellers' expectations, competing properties, competing interests, or how other Realtors conduct their business. (It's not always pretty.) In short, Agents don't control other people, places, or things (although that would be decidedly easier).
"What do you think? Cliff said, "Should we go for it?"
"I don't know," I said. "It seems silly to drive all the way up there and back in the same day. We're not actually going to buy the house."
For years, Cliff and I have dreamed of owning a vacation property on the water, (never mind that we couldn't afford one; that's why it's called a 'dream.'), vacillating between Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe. But a few weeks ago while staying at Sarah's cabin in Homewood, we rediscovered Fallen Leaf Lake and fell under the spell of this more remote Alpine location while hiking along the water 's edge with our dog, Riley.
On Monday, I opened up my email and found this message:
"I recently Google searched 'Real Estate Agent in Piedmont' and noticed that your team didn't appear on the first few pages of the results. In order to change that, I'd like to recommend that your team consider posting weekly blog posts to improve your website's SEO, drive traffic, build client loyalty, and attract nearby Buyers and Sellers who need a hardworking and trustworthy real estate advisor. We have a team of writers . . ."
Gosh, you'd think with nearly 600 posts, I had done just that!
Cliff and I have been up in Tahoe this week enjoying a little R&R in Sarah's sweet little cabin in Homewood (If you can't afford your own vacation property, having friends who are willing to lend you theirs is the next best thing.) It's been a week of hiking, reading, and barbecuing while we do our best to avoid the crowds (and it's crowded in Tahoe). On the heels of a Spring Market that unexpectedly turned the volume way, WAY UP (!!!), I was ready for some down time; in fact, I was overdue (just ask Jill.)
Last week, Jill and I turned 60. This wouldn't have been so bad except that we were supposed to be in Portugal celebrating this milestone together at a beautiful seaside town in a charming Airbnb. (Non-refundable.) While it's no fun having to sideline our highly-anticipated plans, we're hardly alone; almost everyone in the U.S. is in the same boat. We're ALL stuck at home and not going anywhere anytime too soon. (Bummer.)
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.