On the list of the world's most important discoveries throughout history, the wheel has to place near the top. Fire, electricity, the printing press, the cotton gin, refrigeration, the Model-T, the airplane, penicillin and certainly, the INTERNET - have transformed our lives beyond imagination. But the single greatest discovery of ALL time (at least in my household anyway) may well be "the preliminary dessert," which was invented by my husband and our younger son Tristan, one Sunday evening a few years back.
As a weekend baker, it isn't uncommon for me to whip out a batch of warm peanut butter cookies, gooey lava brownies or a rich chocolate-fudge cake with homemade vanilla frosting. No fancy petit fours for us - just old-fashioned American desserts that beg for second helpings - with or without ice cream and a cold, tall glass of milk.
But how to get away with more - sans guilt? (That was the question plaguing my hungry crew until an epiphany one rainy afternoon.)
Ah ha! The "preliminary dessert" - according to my two scheming sweet-toothed gluttons - allows one to "sample" a trial dessert before actually consuming a much larger dessert portion later on.
What's that, you say? Follow along . . .
It's a helping that's too small to count in either calories or consumption; a mere test (taste) of the goods, if you will. In short, the preliminary dessert is a free pass for lovers of dessert the world over. With all due respect to Eli Whitney, Alexander Fleming and Bill Gates (who admittedly, contributed significantly to the progress of mankind) the preliminary dessert is pure genius!
Borrowing from my husband and son, I've adopted a practice I like to call the "preliminary purchase." While this concept isn't a technical real estate term, it's an exceedingly practical one. Let me explain - many Buyers, especially first-time Buyers, benefit greatly from the exercise of putting pen to paper. Unfamiliar with the nuances of the California Residential Purchase Agreement (and having never written a purchase contract before) a purchase contract can be extremely intimidating the first time around (not to mention the 100+ page disclosure package!). Thus, I often write up a practice contract when meeting new Buyers for the first time. (Think of it as a warm up or a dress rehearsal. ) The preliminary purchase offer allows one to gain experience with the technical aspects of a home purchase - absent heightened emotions. Ah ha!
Until Buyers understand the contract, the closing costs, transaction fees, point-of-sale ordinances, local taxes, the inspection process, their lending options and can accurately judge the value of competing listings in any given neighborhood, they remain prospective buyers at best. Until objections turn into opportunities - instead of exit strategies - a Buyers is less likely to step up and fully commit when the right home ultimately presents itself.
And that's perfectly okay.
In fact, it's often prudent to take your time while you gain experience. It is the very rare buyer who finds his or her home the first time out. Chances are, buyers are going to need to "try on" many homes before they successfully ratify a contract and it is very likely buyers will have written on a few properties they didn't get before committing to the one they do (the preliminary purchase)!
In truth, it's the near misses, that inform and educate us more quickly than anything else. Practical, real-life experience are the best teachers by far.
So if you weren't successful in this week's bid - no worries. You are much more likely to be successful in next week's offer as you master the learning curve. When that shift happens, you have just become a committed Buyer (or Seller for that matter) and you'll move forward to purchase the home you desire and quickly close the transaction (without needing additional helpings and all those extra calories)!
When you are well-versed, buying a home can be just like sampling cake
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.