I moved quickly to my desk, plopped my briefcase on the floor and immediately turned on the computer; a routine that is repeated with regularity, day in and day out.
"You walk with purpose," my colleague, Adrienne, said from the other side of the cubicle, as she continued her own work. "I always know it's you when you come in."
My sister, Jill states it less kindly; "You walk like an elephant. Once you're awake, I can never get back to sleep." (So get a hotel room already!)
My mother-in-law, Zee, thinks I walk too fast. (Is is my fault her legs are too short?)
My husband thinks I walk too loudly. (Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!)
The dog doesn't care how I walk, just as long as I walk with him in tow.
What do I think?
I like to think that I walk like a runway model; with long, elegant, graceful strides (sure I do).
We're each entitled to our own opinions so I'll concede that each person's perception is accurate to some extent. Depending on where I am headed and how quickly I need to arrive; I do walk with purpose, I walk loudly, and I walk quickly (with the exception of that runway model thing; that's probably just an illusion on my part).
With apologies to my entire family, my colleagues, and my friends, it's highly unlikely that my heavy gait is going to change perceptibly any time soon, or to quote Popeye, "I yam what I yam." But it does present a nice premise for this week's Perspective, which is:
Facts notwithstanding, "perception" is everything!
As you might guess, "perception" comes up quite a bit with respect to Real Estate, especially when it comes to negotiations. Once Buyers and Sellers find themselves in contract with due diligence now underway, the opinions of professional inspectors, engineers, electricians, plumbers and the like, begin to take center stage - often to very mixed reviews.
If you are on the side that has hired these expensive tradesmen to be your advocates, the suggestion that the house would benefit from additional sheer walling and more extensive bolting, holds quite a bit of weight. Additionally (and much to the Seller's dismay) it may also open the door for further negotiation. (Say it ain't so!)
On the other hand, if you are the property owner, who has lived in the home for years without seismic upgrades or a braced chimney in place, any negative comments or findings - whether it's your inspections or theirs - can seem ridiculous, if not downright insulting. ("We've lived with it like that since we moved in . . .")
Whether we believe the process is highly subjective or not (and it often is) is beside the point. Typically, these issues aren't about working the price back (although it can feel like it in the moment) as much as they are about concerns for health and safety measures, and in rarer cases, preservation of property boundaries. (Oh, that makes more sense.)
In short, it's about "perception."
So with that in mind, it's important to acknowledge that your level of comfort and risk, may not match that of the new homeowners, and certainly, there's no avoiding the reality that codes and expectations have changed dramatically over the past several years, adding higher standards to the mix for both home Sellers, as well as home Buyers.
In truth, both sides have valid viewpoints that in all likelihood, are going to require some delicate navigating in order to keep the parties moving forward and peacefully in contract. (Again, we are talking "perceptions," here, not necessarily "realities.") If everybody is reasonable, then earnest parties will work to find a meeting of the minds.
Finally, given today's highly schizophrenic marketplace (perhaps 'bi-polar' is more accurate), Buyers often have more room to negotiate once inspections have been completed than they did in the past, and they are taking full advantage of that change in status. (You'll do the same when it's your turn to buy.)
"But we are selling our home "AS IS!"
No argument there, but let me remind you that ALL homes are sold "AS IS," based on what we know to be true about the home with respect to upfront disclosure (disclose, disclose, DISCLOSE!) Once "new discovery" comes to light, Buyers have the option to "accept, reject, or renegotiate," and often do. Try not to take offense at this turn of events; it actually is standard practice. Remember, you also have the right to "accept, reject, or renegotiate," in turn.
EXCEPT my husband - he married me "AS IS," and make no mistake, there's been a WHOLE BUNCH of new discovery over the last twenty-two years. Like my family and friends, he'll just have to put up with ALL of my many obnoxious, yet endearing, shortcomings (as I do his). Like homes, it's best to focus our attention on what works!
For better or worse - it is, what it is . . . .
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.