One Step at a Time! I hesitate to use the word "fanatic," but I'm kind of a Fitbit fan and one of the things that has really become clear to me is how much that little piece of hardware has changed my "perspective" on life.
To set the stage, my job requires a fair amount of paperwork. Since I'm highly detailed, I'm not only producing contracts, disclosures, letters, offer synopses and the like, but I'm printing and copying them for my files on a daily basis. (Yours, I'm usually sending electronically.)
Since you can't see my little piece of carved-out real estate here at the The GRUBB Co., imagine a tiny cubicle in the center of the room upstairs, with a community printer and copy machine on opposite walls. In short, my in-house days are spent racing from my desktop to the printer to the copy machine and then back to my desk - over and over and over again - in something akin to an M-shaped pattern. (Think mouse in a maze and you've essentially got it right, except there's no cheese at the end.)
Here's the great part; what use to annoy me as being a highly inefficient design, now adds up to thousands of steps each day (no kidding). Ditto for the parking lot at Target, the last floor at the cineplex, the three blocks to Witter Field, or any other "walk" I'm forced to take in the name of legal parking. (Ain't life grand?)
Now, I need only receive a little buzz when I hit the 10,000 step mark and I feel as if I've conquered the world. That little black band not only makes me feel productive, it tells me so with a little grahic message and some exclamation marks: WAY TO GO!!! (Clearly, I'm easily motivated by outside stimuli.) Like Yurtle the Turtle I keep rising higher and higher with each passing day. To date, I've conquered the steps in the Empire State Building and well beyond (I'm obviously their target market) so you see, it's ALL about perspective. As you might imagine, "perspective" is vitally important come time to buy or sell a property. In a market that is all but defying explanation, it can be hard to maintain a healthy dose of sanity around the stories one hears . . .
"Can you believe how much that house went for?!?"
"Did you hear that there were more than 27 disclosure packets out?"
"Did you hear they got X number of offers . . ."
Or conversely . . .
"Did you hear they only got one offer?"
Leaving the dejected sellers to feel as if they were the last kid asked to dance at the seventh-grade Cotillion. (Okay, maybe I'm still just a little tender.)
For your own sake, let's put it all in "perspective." Just a few short years ago, the banks had nearly failed, stocks had tumbled, retirement plans had lost BILLIONS, and Real Estate, along with every other investment we held near and dear, had absolutely taken an unexpected hit, leaving many people "short" and forced to sell. In fact, in many parts of the country, real estate values still haven't returned to their pre-2008 values.
Thankfully, that's not true here in the Bay Area, where we've not only rebounded, but surpassed the high market values of 2005 - 2006. If you have successfully sold your home, consider the sale a win. Take note, pat yourself on the back, and give thanks. If you are in a position to buy or sell Real Estate anywhere in the Bay Area, you are truly one of the blessed. Yes, should you sell, you will undoubtedly compete with others on the buy side, but for many of you, your profits will more than make up for the heavy competition. In fact, you'll very likely be the ALL CASH Buyer wielding the HEAVY hammer come time to jump.
What's more, comparatively speaking, Oakland/Piedmont/ Berkeley are all still undervalued when compared to our like-kind neighbors up north, down south, or across the Bay Bridge. Based on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) the median price for a home in Alameda county factors out to $697,000 - well, WELL below homes in San Francisco ($1,154,000), OR Marin ($1,023,440), OR San Mateo ($1,200,000), OR Santa Clara ($915,000). (Don't you feel better already?) Which isn't to say that these numbers aren't daunting, especially for first-time home buyers, but the East Bay still represents smart value and Oakland, in particular, is only going to get better and better over the next decade. (Evidently, we're the new Brooklyn.) Yes, I know I'm partial when I extol the obvious benefits of East Bay living, but I know from where I speak. Having spent the first 18 years in The City and the last 12 in Piedmont, it's easy to talk the talk, but I've also walked the walk, and there are few communities as diverse and dynamic as ours. Or to quote Mr. Rogers, "Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor?" Hey "neighbor," I've not only worn out a few pairs of shoes getting to know my neighborhood, but I've done the necessary footwork to understand the ins and outs, and the ups and downs of the marketplace (Did I mention I have the Fitbit record to prove it?)and here's what I've learned along the way (clocking all those hard- earned miles) that will hopefully save you countless steps and a tremendous amount of time on your way to home ownership: it makes little difference in the long term, what you pay for your home in today's world. (It's true.) Yesterday was yesterday. Tomorrow will be tomorrow. Today's market IS the only one in which you can work, so make the best of it and try not to fret about the past or the future. It will all work out in the end. How can I help you? (I'll be taking next week off as so many of you will be on vacation. Happy Passover or Easter. Enjoy your down time.)
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.