It's February which means love is in the air. Did Cupid make a house call last week? I certainly hope so. We're each of us, entitled to a little TLC now and again and at no time is that point more evident than during the season of Saint Valentines. (See how I stretched that into a whole "season" and not just one day?)
This topic got me thinking about the rhythm of love and how it ebbs and flows over time (let's hope it flows more than it ebbs). My folks have been married for more than half a century and I can't imagine one without the other. Along the way, they have built an entire life full of shared memories, and given rise to six children, thirteen grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. For better or worse, that's a legacy worthy of respect. With more than two decades under our belt, I'm counting on Cliff and I going the distance as well (a feat that might be much easier if he would just hang up his clothes once in awhile! ).
On the other end of the spectrum, the sweetest set of newlyweds I helped last year were a couple in their 60s who had tangoed their way into each others hearts and were once again committing to love, to marriage, and to home ownership (which is where I came in). They landed in a wonderful home in Kensington where I picture them now dancing in their kitchen on a nightly basis. It's reaffirming to see that love knows no boundaries, nor is it limited by age. In fact, it seems to only grow stronger with time.
Not surprising, the home-selling process follows a rhythm too, as Buyers and Sellers fall in and out of love as they gingerly progress through the transaction. In truth, almost every deal involves a little "love, hate, love," tug-of-war, so don't be surprised if you find your emotions are entirely mixed. Selling a home - no matter the circumstances - is an incredibly emotional process at best. If you haven't the luxury of defining the next transition or haven't yet identified your new home , it's also a tremendous leap of faith.
In an ideal world, a prospective Buyer comes in, falls in love with the home, makes an emotional connection, and crafts a winning offer. The Seller, now smitten with the flirtatious Buyer, accepts the offer and seals the deal. Congratulations, it's a love match!
Uh, not so fast . . . inspections begin and unexpectedly, there are a few items that are brought to your attention for discussion, or worse yet, entirely untenable to this much more discerning Buyer. (Where'd this guy come from?) Suddenly, it doesn't feel so "nice" anymore. Suddenly it feels rather nit-picky and objectionable, as the Buyer comes back seeking a reduction in price, or some other expensive and inconvenient resolution to the issue. Suddenly, you're questioning whether you still want to sell your wonderful home at all and whether or not this Buyer fully appreciates it? Hey, where's the love?
This is the point in the transaction where I like to remind my Sellers that this emotional roller coaster is very typical. In fact, it's the very rare transaction that proceeds without some back and forth negotiations, some readjustment of expectations, and even some pang of regret. It's only natural. This has been your home and by extension, the place your memories were formed. In large part, our homes define who we are.
Happily, by the time you reach the close of escrow, most of those negative feelings have passed and with patience and good intentions, we have successfully moved past any bumps in the road - both physically and emotionally. But even if we haven't, to quote the fabulous Tina Turner, "What's love got to do with it?"
As I've often stated, it's best not to take these things too personally. Granted, that's a tough order when it's your home that's literally been picked apart. With the exception of romance, love OR hate, rarely ever serve the deal in a positive way so don't get too emotionally invested or attached.
Where love is concerned, you don't have to "love" the new Buyer, nor do you have to "love" the idea of leaving your home and moving on. You don't have to "love" negotiations, compromise or even resolution for that matter. You don't have to "love" any of it at all (and probably won't). But IF (despite all the drama) you can retain your "capacity for love," you will very likely experience a much more fulfilling experience and a more positive outcome to boot.
However, when it comes to Valentine's Day, love is not only a prerequisite - it's a requirement. So go find the love! You deserve it, especially if you've just come through a challenging escrow.
A belated Happy Valentine's Day to you all!
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.