It's Baseball season once again and for the first time in nearly two decades, I won't be participating as an emphatic parent in the stands (that may be a good thing depending on your pov). Which isn't to say that I can't cheer on other people's children (I can, and do) but that it's an entirely different experience to watch your home team without your own sweet "homie" at the plate.
From the moment they could swing a bat, both my boys loved baseball and as a consequence, I learned to love it too. In fact, baseball was the interlocking fabric for the entire spring season as we built the calendar around its demanding schedule, drove car-pool to the games, and stopped for take-out on the way home.
Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the fair . . ." (more like take me out OF the ball game . . . I've been benched!)
I'm physically aching for both my boys right now (and peanuts, and Cracker Jack . . .). Case, our elder sone, is still traveling and "woofing" in New Zealand (The World Organization of Organic Farming), and Tristan is finishing up his first year at Colgate, 3000 miles away. His college baseball season quickly came to a close before the snow descended, and let's face it, Hamilton is a bit far away to travel for a game - even for this extremely dedicated and smitten fan.
As an empty-nester, my nest feels, well . . . empty.
That's a repeating theme among many of my peers and friends who are now looking at the next chapter, which, as a happy trade-off, offers opportunity to travel and time to focus on one's self. After years of sacrificing for one's kids, that can be a hard thing to remember, but truly necessary at this stage-of-life.
It's also the time many of my peers begin to review their living arrangements and start to question whether or not their home still meets their needs. Do we really want all that space once the kids no longer occupy it?
If the answer is "yes" in anticipation of grand kids and the next generation, you're all set (well done) but when the answer is "no" due to budget considerations, captured equity, too many stairs, life adjustments, job transfers, a desire to downsize, or unexpected changes, I'd love to be considered to help you transition to your next home. (At least give me a shot and let me show you what I have to offer. I'm always happy to compete for your business.)
According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 75% of home sellers will only interview one agent before deciding to work with him or her. That's an amazing statistic in light of the fact, that you are much more likely to meet with several dealers before buying a car??? Given that our homes often represent our single largest investment, maybe it's worthwhile to take a little more time with this decision before signing on the dotted line.
So here are the key questions you should be asking an agent before handing over your keys according to US News:
1. How long have you been in the business and are you a full-time agent?In other words, what's your experience and will you be fully committed or do you sell primarily part-time to friends and relatives? It's no surprise that Real Estate demands 24/7 attention.
2. What geographical areas do you cover and what types of properties do you represent? If your cousin in San Jose has a license and wants to represent your home in Oakland or Berkeley, that's not a good "fit," nor is the residential Realtor a good match for the buyer seeking a commercial investment either. Real Estate is a highly localized business full or micro-markets. Work with the area expert!
3. How will you communicate with me and will you be the point person, or is an assistant involved? Selling Real Estate is a multi-step transaction as we move from preparation, to marketing, to showings, and finally, into escrow so several parties are typically involved along the way and you need to know who they are. Do you prefer email, texting or telephone calls? How would you like to receive your communication and how often? Some Sellers need constant contact while others prefer a weekly update and a backseat view. Which one are you and who else needs to be cc'd on the communication? Speak up!
4. Can I get some references? Any agent who isn't willing to give you past clients to speak with is a non-starter. Best to move on . . .
5. What are the costs involved? For Sellers, they are significant as Sellers typically pay the commissions. This isn't the "elephant in the room," it's important information and Realtors are use to answering the tough questions so ask away. I have no problem justifying my commission and spelling out what specifically, I bring to the process, nor should anybody else. (Selling Real Estate only looks easy from the outside.) Moreover, today's presentations often require painting, staging, gardening, repairs, etc. that add additional costs. You need some context around these expenses!
Here are my own Top 5 to add . . .
"What is your Internet presence and how and where will my home be advertised? With nearly 95% of all Buyers beginning their search on the Internet, this is critical. If your home doesn't have a dedicated URL address, you are missing today's mobile-friendly Buyer and a world-wide-web of opportunity!
"What is the process and where do we begin?"
"Do you set a marketing plan and a calendar of events?"
"How do we track the progress and sale of our home?
"What do you need from me/us and what do you take care of personally?("Full service" is a relative term and varies greatly from agent to agent.)
So with cliff notes in hand, please give me a call. I promise to be discreet and to fully answer any and ALL questions you may have, whether a move is imminent or somewhere well down the line. (BTW - it's not unusual to work withSellers a few years out as you begin to look ahead.) The process of selling a home is emotionally charged, fast and furious, and incredibly intimate. Don't just pick any agent, choose the right agent. I guarantee you that I will come prepared and ready to rumble, especially now that my spring season is completely freed up from baseball games. (Sigh.)
"Root, root, root for the home team, if they don't win it's a shame . . ."
Go Piedmont; you'll be forever in my heart.
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.