My wonderful neighbors, Tim and Rhea Gerrity, own a busy enterprise that supplies auto parts to gas stations and dealers throughout the Bay Area - General Auto Parts - www.GeneralAuto.com. After a hard day's work, it isn't uncommon to see one of Tim's cars parked out in front of their handsome home up on Littlewood, a few doors down from me. They're not easily missed, given that each car wears a different hat - literally! I'm not kidding. Perhaps you've seen his smart fleet of white Toyota Prius around town that don everything from a Raider's Football helmet to an A's baseball cap? In addition, they have cars that sport a Shark's helmet, a policeman's cap, a fireman's hat and a host of others that are vendor specific sponsored. Now how smart is that? (Pretty darn smart.)
The GRUBB Co. doesn't have an official hat (although it's not a bad idea) but it got me wondering, if push came to shove, what hat would my car wear? As the author of The Piedmont Perspective, I might mount a typewriter on top for everyone to see, but as a busy Realtor, it might be more apropos to display an A-frame instead. The fact of the matter is, I wear so many hats on a day-to-day basis, that I'm hard pressed to limit the choice to one; the Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker!
Nor am I alone by any means - partner, mother, Realtor, community organizer, board member, tour guide, weekend warrior . . . and so the list goes. On any given day, any one of us might don a chef's hat as we whip up a batch of brownies, to be replaced by a chaffeur's cap as we drive the kids' carpool, to be replaced by a nurse's cap as we mend a bruise (or a broken heart). Such is the challenge of every busy adult as we just plain juggle . . . life!
Ideally, when I work with Buyers, I'm not juggling; I am instead, seeking to define what hat I'll be wearing with respect to my client's goals from the very start. "Let's determine whether you want this house at a bargain, or whether you want this house," I've been known to say, "because they are two entirely different intentions." (They are.) What's more, they employ two very different strategies. The first allows you to throw a "low ball" offer at a house and walk away unfazed if you don't get a response, while the second aims to at the very least keep the ball in your court, if not deliver you the property altogether. ("Congratulations, you got the house!")
With Sellers, the conversation goes more along the lines of, "Is your intention to 'test" the market or is it to actually sell the house in this more conservative marketplace? Will you be taking your house off the market should the house fail to sell at your asking price, renting it instead, or will we set a protocol for a price reduction within two weeks time, should the market indicate a different expectation?" In short, what hat would you like me to wear? These aren't always easy conversations to have when clients are hoping for a "Hail Mary" result after getting battered about by the economy, but at least, with clearer communications, we should know what to expect from one another as we progress through what can be a highly charged and often emotional process. (Don't worry, I'll be wearing my circus hat, in case you need a safety net below the high wire.)
Here's the reality, whether it's a hard hat, a gardener's cap, a decorator's chapeau or some other fancy head gear you'll need me to fashion, rest assured, it can be done. It's just that it's easier for everyone involved, if I am really clear as to your intentions going in. When each of us articulates and commits to the outcome we desire from the very start, the ride is typically more productive and much more dependable as well - a lot like those nifty Prius cars Tim and Rhea count on for marketing their very successful business. Pretty clever!
Hey Tim, what's the next hat on board? Can I nominate a GRUBB hat? I'm sure our marketing department can easily come up with one.
Readers: What hat do you wear most often? What hat should Tim mount on his next company car?
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.