Last week marked Valentine's Day - a Hallmark Holiday if there ever was one. In spite of that, I can't help but appreciate the concept of 'love' in all its many forms.
With respect to my own Valentine's Day (and my own long-suffering Valentine) my husband and I have enjoyed an 'inside joke' for the last several years that comes in the form of a extra large case of stone wheat crackers (yes, crackers) that Cliff proudly presents to me with a tidy bow come February 14 - an annual gift from a client of HIS each January.
Really? A re-gift? Honey, this might work better if your client owned the Shane Company or 1-800- FLOWERS. (I'm just saying . . .)
"Your special Valentine crackers have arrived," Cliff jokingly proclaims as he hands me a BIG box that he believes contains the key to my heart. (It doesn't, but it does make me laugh.) While love and laughter go hand-in-hand in our marriage, I think it's safe to assume that not everybody feels the same where matters of the heart are concerned. Some people actually have expectations.
Which is why I thought it important to set our son, Tristan, on a different course of action now that he's 16 and in a steady relationship for the first time (before he develops some very questionable habits, courtesy of his father).
"Tristan," I said, "Have you given any thought to what you might give Claire for Valentine's Day?"
"Don't worry mom, I've got a 'plan'," he quickly responded, brushing away my motherly inquiry while punching numbers on the remote control in search of a "Heroes" episode. (Not everything is so easily controlled.)
"Just so long as it doesn't involve CRACKERS!" I politely warned.
"Damn, there went that plan!" (Humor evidently lies on the Y chromosome in our family.)
What's that John Steinbeck said about "the best laid plans of mice and men?" (My plan was to marry a man who enjoyed giving diamonds!) No matter how well we coordinate, organize, and execute what we believe to be the "perfect plan," chances are we still won't be able to completely control the outcome - or how others respond to it. In short, life can be incredibly unpredictable (and that's both good and bad).
So too, can markets. As such, it's important to understand that everything might not go exactly according to plan. Certainly, there are stand-out properties we expect to secure many offers or garner higher-than-average returns, BUT the ones that surprise, are the properties that should attract good attention, but return less than desirable results, OR the listings that mysteriously get more attention than they legitimately deserve .
Welcome to the uneven, but exciting world of Real Estate. Which is why I'm often forced to raise my shoulders when prospective Sellers ask "How much is my house worth?" OR, "Should I sell it this year or wait until next? "
The answers: "Value is a moving target," and "Yes, you should sell it now" (demand has never been greater.) Still,when speaking to numbers and to "value," we can only ever guide you based on today's current marketplace (not tomorrow's) and even then, "market value" is an educated guess at best. Which isn't to say that as an industry, Realtors don't, "steer" the market, "drive" the market, and "shape" the market to the best of our abilities (we certainly do) BUT, that we don't control it in the end (although we sincerely wish we did!)
Still, I'm not above a little retraining and control with respect to my own sweet, fledgling offspring, which is why Tristan very smartly sprang for the Piedmont High School Troubadours to make a surprise visit to his girlfriend's classroom on Valentine's Day, rose in hand (nicely done, son).
Clearly the BRAINS of this operation reside on the X chromosome. (You're welcome Claire.)
Isn't it nice to know that someone benefited on Valentine's Day by way of my years of experience? (Anyone who doles out crackers on V-Day better at least cover them in chocolate!)
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.