I spent the early morning hours battling a couple of tree roses at my upcoming listing. (I take the term "full service" to a whole different level.) Let me state for the record, that I'm not a fan of these prissy plants; bushes that have been trained and pruned to grow like floral lollipops. Sure, they look elegant going in, but too often they stop performing after a few years and all you're left with are a few struggling buds and some rather unattractive rusted leaves on top of an ugly wooden stock. (BTW - the deer love snacking on these roses making them uglier still.)
"Do you mind if I bring my shovel over and pull these out?" I asked my amenable Seller. "I'll replace them with something healthier and more vibrant.." (I was just being polite. She didn't really get a vote.)
And so the assault began . . . Let me tell you, those sickly looking roses had a tap root that went way down and didn't want to yield to my incessant digging. (I imagine this must be what it feels like to be an oral surgeon pulling out a wisdom tooth.)
A woman, or should I say a "Realtor" on a mission, I wouldn't be deterred. I've yet to meet the stubborn rose bush that can beat me in a battle. Sure, they'll scratch the heck out you, but in the end, I'm going to end up the victor, come hell or high water.
I think that's often the way Buyers and Sellers feel as they move towards the purchase or the sale of a home and it's rarely ever (to quote Martha Stewart) "a good thing." What often starts out as a lovely transaction turns into a thorny mess as the battle progresses and tap roots are firmly established (aka: lines in the sand).
Until one side yields, nothing much good is going to come of it.
"You tell them I said . . .!", OR "We're absolutely NOT going to . . .!", OR
"Why should I, unless they . . . ?"
And so the war rages.
Let's pause for a moment and reevaluate the goal, which is to transfer ownership of the home. Remember, both the Buyer and the Seller want the same thing, but how to get there is often the part we have to navigate with some common sense and grace. We don't have to like each other, we just have to be respectful. (BTW - kindness and generosity never hurt either.) No matter the circumstances, the backdrop is always STRESS on both ends, so let's keep drama to a minimum, shall we? (This goes for the Realtors too.)
One Seller recently summed it all up: "This is the one time in my life when I have the opportunity to sell a rare commodity that is truly based on supply and demand and dammit, I want every dollar!" (I understand.)
Juxtapose that sentiment against: ""We can wait and we don't want to overpay." (No one does.)
Whatever your belief, it's sure to be EMPHATIC (!) especially in a highly-charged market such as today's, but if you lose the forest for the trees (or the roses for the thorns) you'll undoubtedly be left bloody and bruised and worse yet, without a house, and that's certainly not the outcome you were hoping for.
While there are those who, either by training or by nature, thrive on turning UP the volume, there's something to be said for giving up the struggle and yielding to the flow. Granted, this isn't easy. I'll be the first to say that there's a lot at stake and no one wants to be taken advantage of, or worse yet, miss an opportunity, but in the greater scheme of things, the buying or selling of a home are the problems most of the rest of the world aspires to.
Let's keep our mission in perspective, recognize or redefine the concept of "victory," and remember for all the worry, angst, and posturing, the outcome is rarely ever impacted enough to have made an ugly struggle worthwhile under any circumstances. In other words, be nice and play fair.
Which isn't to say that there won't be some battles along the way, but let's resolve them quickly and amicably.
"But what if . . .?"
So what? I mean it, "So what?" Second guessing is the quickest way to insanity in this, or any other market. Let me save you some time and trouble; we can only ever work with the inventory, buying pool, lending policies, and the circumstances available to us now. Sure, this may all change in a year or two (in a month or two) and then we will be forced to recalibrate and work with a new set of perimeters, but for today, we work with what we have in front of us . . .
I spent months second guessing my decision on our last home (coveting others, bemoaning our purchase, doubting the journey . . .) only to have our lovely house break records when we sold it this spring. When I finally let go of expectations, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) tumbled nicely into place. What a gift.
So pick your battles wisely (and wear long sleeves) or you may find yourself focused on the thorns instead of the blooms - and wouldn't that be a shame?
Save your fighting for the issues that really matter. Now where's my shovel? Those roses have got to go!
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.