I have returned to salsa class after an almost two year absence due to some minor injuries (first with my rotator cuff and then with my Achilles tendon) that kept me off the dance floor longer than I had intended. Now that I'm back, I'm remembering what I loved about salsa class . . . and what I didn't miss so much.
The class I take on Tuesday evenings is Salsa Rueda. "Rueda" means "wheel" in Spanish and much like an American square dance, this social dance form requires the leaders (the men) and the followers (the women) to move in opposite directions while the teacher calls out the next dance steps.
The moves can be as simple as a quick underhanded passoff to the next partner or as complicated as a series of intricate spins, but the idea is that we should all be doing the same thing, to the same counts, AT THE SAME TIME . . . "Uh, five, six, seven, eight."
As you might imagine, the men in the group range from very good, to not so wonderful (I'm certain the women do as well, but I'm not forced to "partner" with them) and depending on their skill set, it can be a lot of fun . . . or not so much. The more confident the leader, the lighter his touch and the clearer his directions, as he easily maneuvers his partner in and out, back and forth, and round and round, while we ladies gracefully follow suit (that's the idea anyway).
Conversely, the uncertain leaders who are sweating it out (quite literally) have a tendency to forcefully yank your arm, grip your hands, and throw you about in an effort to catch up and compensate for their confusion. To add insult to injury, these Gene Kelly wannabes will often say something along the lines of "Don't worry you'll get it," or "Try not to lead, that's my job" (yes, it is!) as they seek to blame you for being out of step. Really dude?
In certain communities within the Bay Area, and certainly here in Piedmont we have returned to a very active "Sellers' Market" and much like my salsa class, I'm remembering what I liked about it - and what I didn't miss so much.
Having come at us with unexpected speed and force (the only difference between this year's Spring Market and last, seems to be consumer confidence ) it's an absolute windfall for Sellers and downright discouraging for Buyers as they scramble from one house to the next, competing against double digit offers in some cases, and placing bids well above the list price that would have easily won the house last year and now aren't even in contention. Wow, that doesn't feel so good.
As a listing agent, it's fantastic to deliver results well above expectations, but as a Buyer's agent, I hate delivering the news that my Buyers' well-crafted offer somehow fell short. And for both of us, the frantic hunt for a home represents a tremendous commitment of both time and energy, as we face odds that frankly, aren't in anyone's favor.
The truth is, like dance, so much of the results have to do with good timing and with the partners you choose. If we time the market correctly, the results may be great, and if we don't, you are likely to be moving on to another agent the next time you decide to buy or sell (ouch, that's not so nice). In both cases, the market has far more power than do I, although how I guide you through the steps is undoubtedly important.
New home owners who bought in the last few years capitalized on the bottom of the market, while those that waited on the sidelines are feeling pressure that's difficult to absorb as the market quickly climbs and for some unfortunate Buyers, becomes out-of-reach. Meanwhile home Sellers are experiencing results they didn't enjoy even a few short months ago. Regrettably, market realities are only revealed in hindsight.
For those of you, unable to compete, you may need to take a break from the action until next fall when things typically level off (markets tend to be cyclical). This mini-bubble may just be that - or it may not. But for those of you who can compete, compete to win and do it sooner, rather than later. Prices are still climbing and today's sales will be tomorrow's comps.
And as a Seller, if you have been waiting to recapture some of your lost equity, your patience may be well-rewarded at this time. Please note however, that not every house is experiencing the same heavy demand. Those that come to market, "turn-key" and freshly painted and staged, are attracting far more interest than those that still have several obstacles to overcome, or those perceived as overpriced!
In both instances, do partner up with the best agent you can find (just because you can do the dance, doesn't mean you can do it well) and get realistic about the competition you are facing. (The Grubb Co. closed 106 sales last month alone and boasts more sales per agent than any other local firm.)
Then put on your dance shoes and cha, cha, cha!"Uh, five, six , seven, eight . . ."
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.