I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in bed, having come down with a bad case of vertigo and distracted myself with marathon TV, waiting impatiently to regain my equilibrium (I'm now caught up on EVERY serial program ever made). Frankly, I think one should never walk into walls unless there are massive quantities of tequila involved, and I retired those days LONG ago (gratefully)!
As I fumbled through the channels in the wee hours of the morning, I came across Broadway Idiot; the documentary on Green Day's journey to "The Great White Way." This engaging and honest film charts the band's collaboration (specifically, Billie Joe Armstrong's collaboration) with director and playwright, Michael Mayer, and orchestrator, Tom Kitt, to adapt Green Day's highly acclaimed album, American Idiot, into a full-fledged rock opera for the Broadway stage.
Given the top-notch talent of everyone involved in the project from actors, to set designers, it isn't surprising that the successful adaptation received two Tony Awards in 2010 and a Grammy for Best Show Album in 2011; impressive accomplishments from one of our most gifted native sons, AND a fantastic result. That's not a bad day's work (or two or three . . .)
BUT what really resonated with me (since I'm not a rock star) was the willingness of Billie Joe to trust others to have a vision as equally valid as his own and to believe that this talented team would serve his objectives with respect to the songs. Even in my semi-conscious, spinning state, the lessons of collaboration came through loud and clear.
Now that's a lesson we can all use, no matter our trade or vocation.
Without comparing the sale of a home to an award-winning Broadway show (although it's not a stretch to say that most home sales involve a fair amount of drama) the need to trust others is often the case with Sellers as well, whenever they invite a REALTOR into their homes to offer up a marketing plan. No matter the number of years one has lived in their home, or one's level of willingness, collaboration is always going to be a large part of the process. For some, this means surrendering almost entirely, while for others, the process may take much longer before they develop enough faith to finally let go . . . (I get it.)
Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in my clients' shoes as I helped my aging parents (now both in their 80s) explore the very real possibility of selling their condominium in Sonoma next spring; a move brought on by their desire to pare down and simplify their lives (and say goodbye to stairs).
"The objective is to sell their home for as much money as they can get and as quickly as possible," I stated (duh) to their prospective Realtor, "How do you propose to do that and what is the timing you suggest?"
Not surprisingly, the accommodating Realtors my folks had identified, suggested many of the same steps I recommend to my clients as well: inspect, repair, paint, stage, prep, and when possible, move out, in order to make showings as easy as possible . . . They arrived with sales comps in hand, spoke clearly about the market realities in Sonoma, and followed up with a detailed marketing plan and calendar of events (thank you, much appreciated).
In black and white, this all sounds fairly straightforward, but it rarely ever is. The fact is, people tend to be emotionally connected to their homes and giving them over to others . . . is quite honestly, a difficult task indeed. How can a third-party opinion matter more than your own? (It doesn't; it simply serves as a reality check and a spring board.)
But here are the steps my parents are taking today, and what you should consider as well - IF a sale is in your future:
1. They are beginning the process NOW, in order to sell in the Spring of 2014. (Don't wait until after the New Year to connect with your Realtor. It's never too soon.)
2. They are preparing their house and garden, purging closets, and donating items they no longer use or need. They are planting for spring blooms (by "they", I mean my mom) to coordinate with the timing of the listing and repairing any red flags that come up during the course of inspections.
3. They are visiting nearby Sunday Opens to get a better sense of the existing competition and Buyer expectations. (How are other homes presented in the neighborhood?)
4. They are tracking the sales of "like-kind" properties to better align themselves with a realistic sale's outcome. (What was the final sales price and level of activity?)
5. The are hiring locally! (A move I wholeheartedly encouraged and applaud). Having visited several opens, they have a keen sense of who their "market specialists" are and who can deliver the best result.
Listen, we've all got a friend, a cousin, or a family member with a Real Estate license, but it doesn't necessarily follow that they will be your best choice come the time to sell (or buy) your home. Working locally, is the single, smartest choice you can make, which is why with respect to my parents, I am more than happy to consult from the sidelines and hand over the reigns to others I trust implicitly. In other words, collaboration is the key.
In short, surround yourself with those whose vision you can trust, AND then trust the process.
You're much more likely to end up with a fantastic result. (Hey, we can't all win Tony Awards or a Grammy, but the outcome should still be noteworthy, no matter the journey.) No need to walk into walls when there's so much well-intentioned help to be had.
How can I help you?
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.