Watching my son come up to bat last week, I was once again reminded how difficult baseball is - a game where even the best players in the world only get on base once out of every three attempts.
Statistically, baseball is a game of failure; a game where every miscalculated step or strike out is painfully on display for all to see. There's no hiding in the pack like with soccer, basketball, lacrosse or rugby (what exactly happens in a "scrum?"). Even water polo has plenty of activity to redirect the eye.
While baseball is theoretically, a team sport, you often stand alone.
So in spite of the atheist in me, like many an anxious parent, I always pray for a little help each time my son approaches the batter's box or whenever a hit sails deep into left field toward his outstretched glove. Fingers crossed, eyes looking toward heaven, I silently pray, "Please, please, please . . ." as I watch him react and race to the ball.
At the risk of offending those who pray for more than baseball, I know that it isn't prayer that makes the difference in my son's success or failure - it's practice. Because so much time is spent waiting between plays, the inescapable truth is that my son will only be ready to act in the moment, if he is adequately prepared before he sets foot on the field. Mastering critical skills should happen before - not during - a game, so that when action is required, the play is automatic!
Preparation is the key in real estate as well so that when the right opportunity comes along, you are set to execute the corresponding play. Preparation starts with clarifying your goals and then qualifying your actions, understanding your finances and then pre-approving your loan, outlining a timeline and then visiting Sunday Opens, selecting an experienced REALTOR and then effectively communicating your needs (and that's just your warm-up). Fine tuning your real estate skills should happen before, you find the right home - not after.
While today's INTERNET generation is more apt to research and explore the market on their own, yesterday's consumer had it right in one important strategic component: they relied much more on their agent's experience and often started with a well-timed phone call to their Realtor FIRST.
Even with today's unrestricted access, there's no doubt that aligning yourself with a local REALTOR from the onset, automatically improves your odds in the game. No one wants to bunt if they should be swinging for the fences (and my husband thinks I don't know baseball!).
As a neighborhood specialist, I am in the best position to know what is coming to the market, what has withdrawn, what is due for a price reduction and which sellers are open to an offer long before the most adept Googler. Like a well-honed athlete (or a boy scout) it is my job to be prepared; to know the players, to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to manage the game from beginning to end.
So while I am more than happy to help the Home Buyer or Seller who waits to contact me until the 7th-inning stretch, YOU are better served by capitalizing on my knowledge and experience from the very first swing. Like Baseball, Real Estate is essentially a team sport; however, unlike baseball - you never have to stand alone.
Just think of me as your personal batting, pitching, and base coach all rolled into one. I am your back up man, your "go to" girl, your supportive trainer and your strategic manager. I study the competition, know the landscape, and do my best to craft a winning game plan.
So whether it's a curve ball, an off-speed pitch or a fast ball crossing the plate (bear with me, I'm on a roll. You can think Tudor, Mid-Century Contemporary or quintessential Brown Shingle). you will be prepared to hit the pitch out of the ballpark, round the bases and arrive safely at home!
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.