It's the end of an era!" my client cheerfully exclaimed, as I delivered the news that she and her husband had successfully outbid eight other parties for the home of their dreams. After two years of searching and bidding, this darling couple had finally stepped up, outmaneuvered the other parties at the table, and crafted the winning offer. (Winner, winner, chicken dinner!)
Unfortunately, not every story has a happy ending. A new home hadn't come easily to this family. They'd underbid on several very good opportunities and missed the margin by very little on several others. In spite of a tireless search and good intentions, the learning curve had been lengthier and steeper than either one of us preferred. It hadn't just been an "era," it had literally been Homer's Odyssey! (Sometimes it takes several dry runs before Buyers are really ready.)
Still, when the pieces finally came together, the difficult journey seemed worth the extra effort and the patience. The historic Craftsman on a flat, double lot with an unbelievable view of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, was nearly perfect. With room to grow, and unlimited potential, it was also within walking distance of shops, the theater and restaurants. And as often happens when we stay open to the possibilities, this remarkable home took the sting out of the "near misses." Until . . . "Are you sitting down?" My client murmured . . . (Uh, oh, that's never a good start to a conversation.) "We're not going to go through with the purchase." What?!? (I was sitting now.)
"My husband is too uncertain," my client explained.
"Don't make a rash decision you'll regret later," I urged. "Homes such as this one come along very rarely. I think " (That was true.)
"It's just too quick for us . . ." (Huh?) Okay, now she'd lost me.
This wasn't the first home on which they'd been interested enough to place a bid. Nor were they inexperienced, uninitiated, unprepared, or under educated as to the demands of the market. In fact, on paper, they were practically perfect. It's just the 'real life demands' that seemed to have them frightened and unable to perform. In a go-go-go market full of froth and foam, second-guessing can occur and when it does, all bets are off.
Nor, unfortunately, were they the only couple to pull the plug that week, as fear replaced elation on more than one deal in-house. Regrettably, that's the down side of a go, Go, GO marketplace. It's very rushed and overheated, which can translate into unexpected stress for the most well-intentioned Buyers.
Aw shucks . . .
In the end, no manner of persuasion could put Humpty Dumpty back together again and this extraordinary home ultimately went to the back-up Buyers. (Their loss was another family's fortunate gain. DO take those back-up positions when offered.)
What really happened?
Perhaps it was the pressure of having to buy well beyond the list price in a run-away market that continues to climb. Perhaps it was an inability to comfortably believe in, and navigate, the concept of "value." Perhaps, it was just a general lack of unease overall . . .
Whatever the reason, buying a home in any marketplace requires a GIANT leap of faith, and especially today, when it seems nearly impossible to keep up. (Listen, it's never been easy to stretch for a house. Just ask your parents.) To which I can only say, "Take the leap!"
With historically low interest rates still in play, if not now, when? Interest rates can only go up from here. Years ago, friends insisted the market was experiencing a bubble and they would "wait." Turns out they were right, but in 2008 when the stock market tumbled, banks folded, and housing prices finally dropped; financing tightened up considerably and they no longer qualified for a loan that would allow them to buy into the American Dream.
Aw shucks . . .
The truth is, life is full of uncertainties, but it's also incredibly expansive - if we allow it to be. So BELIEVE and begin a New Era. It's up to you.
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.