Jill headed back up the mountain to Tahoe to retrieve her car yesterday.
After catching a ride to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Incline from the South Shore last Friday afternoon, we waited for several hours before finally being told by the mechanic, "Well, I guess that wasn't it; but I won't be able to figure it out until Monday when I can get other parts from my supplier." (Say what?)
Side note, I can imagine worse places to be stranded for the weekend than the beach at the Hyatt Regency in Incline Village; with its stunning turquoise water, shady umbrellas, and long stretches of sand. Still, there we were with no room, no car (no bathing suit) and no clear idea of whether or not the next fix would prove more successful. While frosty drinks at the beach club certainly beckoned, we needed to get back to work and to our families in the bay area.
Plan B -
At 4:30 pm, the hotel concierge, Jill, and I all aggressively hit our phones trying to secure a rental car, but to no avail.
"It's high season and I don't have any vehicles left," the fella at Hertz told me none too sympathetically. (As in, duh?) Meanwhile Enterprise put me on corporate hold for 40 minutes and then left me in limbo indefinitely, and Avis wasn't much better, never picking up in the first place. (I miss a human being on the other end. Truly. Remember when companies cared?) A cab was out of the question, the airport was back in Reno, and the folks in the lobby were starting to question why we were loitering for so long in their big, comfy leather couches.
Plan C -
Luckily, Jill has an empathetic friend who lives in Zephyr Cove. Brook kindly came to our rescue, went out of her way to pick us up in her Range Rover, took us to dinner, tucked us into her lovely guest rooms, and got up very early the next morning to drop us in Truckee where we caught a bus to Sacramento and then transferred to a train to Richmond. (Thank you.) If you've never taken Amtrak's Capital Corridor line, it's a heck of a lot more pleasant than Hwy 80. It wasn't what we'd originally anticipated, but we were finally headed home . . .
I'm a fan of alternative plans, and often recommend an A, B, & C strategy to my clients when writing on a house, especially when they are facing a multiple- offer situation - which is nearly always in our neck of the woods. (NOT true in Tahoe where houses can sit 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years (!) before finding a willing and able buyer, as we learned last week at the Luxury Home seminar that had brought us to Tahoe in the first place.)
Plan A - "What's the highest price you are willing to write on this home,with the understanding it's unlikely you will get a counter offer?" I'll begin, at which point the color drains out of my clients' face as they struggle with the market realities AND the steep learning curve of being a real Buyer in a Sellers' marketplace.
Plan B - "At what price would you be comfortable writing should the competition thin?"
Plan C - "At what price would you 'jump for joy,' if no one else shows up on the offer date?"
Okay, the last one rarely happens and when it does, invariably, my Buyers turn to me and say, "What's wrong with the house?" and decide to walk away as well, proving once more that significant purchases almost always require validation byother people . . . Yes, theoretically, you hate the idea of competition, but in practice, you won't write without it.
Still, every once in a blue moon, the stars align and we get an opening where the competition wanes and we can actually work our way backto a seemingly more reasonable number (It's still going to be well over asking, but not "I think I'm going to be sick" over asking.) to which I can only politely suggest that you please "recognize the gift."
Listen, the very definition of the "winning offer," as in "Congratulations, you got the house!" means that you will, in fact, be writing the highest offer for the property on that day. What's more, you aren't going to know how much higheryour offer is over the next bid at the table (nor do you want to). In short, you are in a blind auction, and for better or worse, it's how the game is played. Welcome to the world of supply and demand.
In the end, regardless of Plans A, B or C, you are ultimately going to have to decide what the value of any given home is personally worth to you and then live with the outcome, whatever it may be. (That's the part we don't control.) Throwing caution to the wind typically translates to victory, while proceeding too cautiously almost always equals loss. Whatever your journey, you get to decide which level of action to take.
Planes, trains, and automobiles . . .
Granted, the decision isn't easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
Will you have a moment of Buyer's remorse? Yes, count on it, almost everyone does when our realities and emotions collide, but this feeling should pass relatively soon. At the risk of sound really old, I'll share what I explained to my victorious, but VERY anxious, Buyer just last night:
"Cliff and I have bought seven properties together throughout our 26 years of marriage and in every single case, whether the market was UP(!), down, or sideways, we wondered if we could have gotten the house for less - and maybe we could have."
(Pause for effect . . .)
"That's the human condition I suppose, but I can categorically tell you now, that whatever perceived savings we might have more aggressively pursued in the moment, it hasn't mattered one wit in the end. NOT ONE!"
So take the journey. Board the train.
How can I help you?
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.