In an attempt to squeeze in one more day of summer and put off the inevitable, my husband and I, our younger son Tristan and his buddy, headed over the Bay Bridge to Pier 39 last Saturday. Experiencing rare San Francisco sunshine, the four of us joined thousands of other excited tourists and headed over to Pier 39 to explore the shops and enjoy the street performers.
Within an hour, the boys and I had settled comfortably in front of the juggler's hilarious act and Cliff had wandered into a sports memorabilia store (which is as close to shopping - or to jugglers - as Cliff ever gets). Everyone was happy and in his element. (Yeah!)
Cut to: laughter, frivolity, applause and the tip hat . . . too late, I realized the meter was about to expire on our parking space! Hurriedly shoving some bills into the open bowler, I grabbed the boys and rushed into the store in search of Cliff, who had already left and was in all likelihood, scanning the crowd for us. Guessing he would meet us at the car thereby avoiding a ticket, the boys and I took off like Usain Bolt (humor me) and dropped several coins into the meter - just in the nick of time. (Yeah!)
No Cliff. (Drat!)
Thinking quickly (I can be inspired under pressure) I handed the boys a wad of crumpled bills and shoved them towards The Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. "Don't leave this place until I come back," I firmly instructed the boys. "I'll find Dad and return in a few minutes." That's what I said to the boys, but inside I wondered how in the world I was actually going to find my husband among the throngs of people.
Like a salmon swimming upstream, I bumped and jostled my way through the crowds, and wondered (not for the first time) why my husband never carries his cell phone??? Looking through the seemingly endless swarm of people, my radar on high, I started to panic and doubted whether I would actually find him before the boys had explored every freakish oddity Ripley's has to offer.
Then I saw it! Like a beacon, I saw my husband's bright red baseball cap. (Yeah!) Among thousands of heads, I spied his red hat!
In my experience, homes that sell quickly have two things in common. First, they are all priced correctly (yeah!) and second, they all have a "red hat" - that one thing that distinguishes them from every other home on the block.
Your "red hat" may be an architectural gazebo, a soaring cathedral ceiling, a stunning view, a gourmet kitchen, a reading nook, a bank of French Doors, a fragrant interior courtyard, or an enchanting garden where one envision's family celebrations. Because a home often represents dreams, people tend to buy their homes viscerally and emotionally. Play up the "red hat" and you are sure to attract qualified buyers in a hurry!
Don't have a "red hat?" Create one. Staging often provides the "red hat" a property may be lacking. (It also typically adds value to any home sale. )
So here are today's lessons:
1. Find or create the red hat in your home.
2. Carry a cell phone!
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.