"Dear Santa, I had an awesome year. I have excellant (sic) grades in school, and I obey my parents (sometimes). I hope you have me on your 'nice' list. Thanks for listening, Luciano."
"Awesome" is a relative term, I know, but this sweet letter, penned by my colleague's adorable six-year old son, pretty much sums up my year as well. If we judge our lives by the number of blessings in it, I have had more than my fair share, Santa, with miracles to spare (thank you).
"Deck the halls with boughs of holly, tis the season to be jolly ..."
Here in Piedmont, we've much to be grateful for as well. After more than four economically challenging years, it's incredibly encouraging to see our housing market on the mend. While job growth across the U.S. may still be fairly anemic, the Bay Area for the most part, is experiencing a rather robust real estate market once again (and aren't we lucky?). AND on a personal note, it's been my privilege to guide many of you through this much more optimistic frontier.
"Oh come all ye faithful . . ."
In fact, each successive sale seems to set a new precedent with respect to the margin by which a property sold over its "list price" and savvy Buyers have taken note. With escalating housing prices (not to mention skyrocketing rents) qualified Buyers who waited out the downturn, are now jumping into the marketplace to take advantage of historically low interest rates, which makes for the healthiest market we've seen in several years.
While some of you may feel that you have missed the bottom of the market, it's important to understand that you can still capitalize on cheap, cheap, CHEAP(!) dollars in the here and now. (Ho, ho ho!) Don't worry, you haven't arrived too late; there's still tremendous opportunity to be had in a rising marketplace.
Happily, whether on the Buy or Sell side of a transaction, I have had the great fortune to work with exceedingly smart, incredibly flexible, and often, very motivated Buyers and Sellers whom, for the most part, have let reason carry the day, who have carefully considered their options before taking action, and most importantly, were willing to work towards resolution. (Isn't it nice when we all get along?) They've not only had open minds, but open hearts as well. (That's true abundance.)
"And may joy come to you, and a merry Christmas too . . ."
As I look back over 2012 and ahead to 2013, I couldn't feel more blessed or more hopeful and that's in large part due to YOU; many who have become close friends along the way, and have in turn, referred me to your friends and family as well. Professionally speaking, is there a better gift? (I dont' think so.)
But when all is said and done, whether we've prevailed or not, like Luciano, I hope I've made it onto your "nice" list. ("Yes, Luciano, there is a Santa Claus.") Know that I've certainly done my best and that I feel grateful to be of service to you. Thank you for all your faith in me.
"Fa, la, la, la, la - la, la, la, la!"
Whatever holiday you celebrate, may it be filled with love and laughter. Here's to a joyous 2013.
"Joy to the World. . ."
"I asked my son what kind of cake he'd like for his birthday, and he answered, 'Mrs. Gardner's chocolate raspberry cake!'" came the email from my good friend, Mara Lee (aka: Andrew's mom). "Would you mind sharing the recipe or is it a family secret?"
Okay I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but it's a store bought mix of Devil's Food cake (any brand) and a jar of raspberry jam. (Joy to the world? How about jam to the world!)
Truly, it couldn't be any easier. The only part of the cake I make from scratch is the frosting, and to my utter horror, my husband actually prefers the canned product (sugared lard to my way of thinking) instead of my creamy, vanilla concoctions. Is he kidding? (No he's not.)
What can I say? I've spent years perfecting homemade chocolate macaroons, blonde brownies, and moist banana cake, but it's the chocolate raspberry cake from a mix that my family asks for the most. Go figure. In high school parlance; that cake is an "easy A.
With respect to Real Estate, there's rarely ever an "easy A," which is to say that even the transactions that look as if they came easily and then closed quickly, may, in reality, represent a tremendous amount of work - and usually do.
The property that quickly came to market and sold in a week or two, typically spent several months in preparation prior to the first Sunday Open. Preparations that usually include inspections, cleaning, organizing, overdue maintenance, painting, gardening, staging, etc., (just for starters). For many homes, this preparation may also require significant upgrades to the bathrooms and kitchen, sewer lateral replacement, or drainage, roof and foundation repairs as well. (Whew!) No matter how you slice it, bringing a home to market is A LOT of work.
Likewise, Buyers rarely ever prove successful on the first home on which they bid. As luck (and as life) would have it, there is an inherent learning curve for almost ALL Buyers as they refine their hunt, gain invaluable experience, and earn their hard earned stripes within a very competitive marketplace. Realistically, Buyers should expect to spend several weeks in search of their next home under the very best scenario, and shouldn't be surprised if it, in fact, takes several months or more. I've literally worked with some Buyers for two or three years while they wait for the "right" home to emerge that finally motivates them to get serious and move. (That's okay, I'm not going anywhere soon.)
In short, any conscience Realtor's work begins looong before a transaction is consummated, or more to the point, our commissions are earned over t i m e - not in one swift close, and certainly not in a week or two. Our "value proposition" is gnerated through a deep understanding of the marketplace, a commitment to our Buyers and Sellers to deliver their goals, and the patience to stand by these principles.
Still, I wouldn't exactly mind if an "easy A" happened to fall into my lap every once in a blue moon (feel free to refer me) although I've yet to come across any that proved entirely "easy." In truth, I'm not sure the "easy A's" really exist. Even the quick transactions have resulted from groundwork that's been laid over years and a network of clients that trust and respect me enough to send their friends my way (thank you).
Gotta run, I've got a cake to bake.
Happy Birthday, Andrew!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.